House panel defers vote on articles of impeachment vs. Sereno

MANILA The House of Representatives' justice committee has postponed until next week its vote on the articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, its chairman said on Tuesday.

In a chance interview, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said the delay was due to disagreements over what should be included in the articles of impeachment.

The committee originally scheduled the voting on the report along with the impeachment articles on Wednesday.

"Hindi namin natapos yung articles of impeachment kasi hindi kami magkasundo kung ilan yung isasama and, ang gusto ng iba, comprehensive talaga to show this is really a very strong case (We were not able to finalize the articles of impeachment because we could not agree on how many allegations should be included, and some members want it to be really comprehensive to show that this is really a very strong case)," Umali said.

"The whole idea is to present it as comprehensive as we could, then we'll just cross the bridge when we get there. Probably remove some allegations that may not be that strong," he added.

Umali said the voting could be held on Monday or Tuesday next week.

"When we schedule that hearing either on Monday or Tuesday, we're ready to present the articles of impeachment," he said.

The House justice panel chair said among the allegations that would likely be included in the impeachment articles are Sereno's failure to completely disclose her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth; tax evasion for failing to pay about PHP2 million in taxable income from the legal fees she received as government counsel in the PIATCO case; and acts of grandiosity, such as the purchase of a luxury vehicle, as well as staying in opulent hotels.

"When you look at it at its totality, doon lumalabas yung persona niya eh. Doon lumalabas yung psychiatric or psychological disorder, nandun eh (that's where her persona is revealed. It reveals that there is psychiatric or psychological disorder, it's there)," Umali said.

The impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon contains four grounds corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes. The complaint also alleged 27 acts constituting the offenses charged against the Chief Justice.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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