Alvarez to Sereno: Face impeachment committee, not media

MANILA — Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday said the impeachment hearing is the proper forum for Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to defend herself against accusations hurled at her.

In a radio interview, Alvarez said Sereno should appear before the House justice committee and face the impeachment proceedings against her instead of using the media to her defense.

“Ang sinasabi ko, dahil nga hindi siya nag-a-appear doon sa hearing, talagang paano niya didepensahan yung sarili niya hindi ba? Tapos maglalabas na lang siya ng mga statement sa media hindi naman valid yun,” said Alvarez.

“Kaya kailangan talaga siyang pumunta doon para i-disprove yung mga allegations at yung mga ebidensya na inilahad laban sa kanya. Alam naman niya yan dahil abugado rin iyan, nagpa-practice,” he added.

Alvarez said if Sereno resigns, the impeachment proceedings against her would be halted.

“Kung magreresign nga siya, so talagang titigil kasi wala na tayong ini-impeach. Ngunit kung hindi siya magre-resign ay patuloy pa rin yung pag-gather natin ng ebidensya ukol doon sa mga alegasyon na nasa complaint ni Atty. Gadon,” Alvarez said.

After attending a Mass at the Parish of Holy Sacrifice in Quezon City on Thursday, Sereno vowed to resist calls for resignation, saying those who stand with the truth should not be oppressed as she expressed confidence that God’s plan would prevail.

“I’m sure, as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, that God’s plan will prevail. Indeed, I have seen with my own eyes how the Lord superintends everything so that the lies are uncovered, the truth is revealed, people are taking more courage and there is unity among brethren at last,” Sereno said.

Associate Justice Teresita De Castro has testified before the impeachment committee, confirming that Sereno not only altered a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the party list proclamation in 2013, but also created the Judicial Decentralized Office in Region 7 contrary to resolutions the high court had approved.

De Castro also testified on the merits of the decision she penned that declared unconstitutional the clustering of shortlisted nominees made by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) last year in connection with the vacancies in the Sandiganbayan.

Impeachment complainant lawyer Larry Gadon said De Castro’s statements backed by documentary proofs were “incontrovertible evidence”.

“The testimony of Justice Teresita de Castro is more than enough and sufficient to impeach Sereno. Her testimony, aside from being supported with documentary evidence, is tremendously strong since the issues under question are matters precisely within her knowledge as she herself was a direct participant in those matters of administrative orders and TRO (temporary restraining order) resolutions — a firsthand knowledge by direct participation,” Gadon said. Filane Cervantes/PNA