House committee issues show-cause order vs Sereno lawyers

MANILA — The House of Representatives’ justice committee on Monday issued a show-cause order against two lawyers of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and a Commission on Human Rights (CHR) commissioner for airing out comments that cast aspersion on the impeachment proceedings against the chief magistrate.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, committee chair, said Sereno’s lawyers, Joshua Santiago and Aldwin Salumbides, branded the proceedings as a “dog and pony show” after the panel refused to allow the counsels of the Chief Justice to ask questions in her absence.

SAGIP Partylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said that apart from the lawyers of Sereno, CHR commissioner Roberto Cadiz also issued a “very demeaning” comment for likening the House rules to the “laws of the jungle”.

Umali said they have 72 hours to submit a written explanation why they should not be held in contempt for their statements that “cast aspersion to this committee, its members, and its proceedings.”

Umali, in his opening remarks, called on Sereno’s lawyers to show respect to the proceedings of the committee instead of resorting to name-calling. He further warned that the committee may use its “coercive powers” against them.

“If I may just enjoin the lawyers, please respect this impeachment committee lest we be forced to use the coercive powers of this committee or other powers vested in the House of Representatives, para lang po maging maayos ang proceedings (for the proceedings to go on smoothly),” Umali said.