Does private complainant Larry Gadon have personal knowledge-a requirement in the endorsement for impeachment complaint-on his allegations against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno?
"She (Sereno) will be made to submit a written answer at the proper time... For this reason, we respectfully submit that the complaints can not be considered sufficient in both form and substance", according to a statement released by her spokesman, lawyer Carlo Cruz.
Gadon said Sereno violated the Constitution when she falsified orders and resolutions of the high court, misdeclared her wealth in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN), and manipulated the Judicial Bar Council, among others.
On the eve of the hearing, an 18-member group who call themselves leaders and members of former senior government officials and International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance, issued a statement supporti8ng Sereno.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said that upon reading the complaint, he found that Gadon lacks personal knowledge on his accusations against the chief justice.
"Let us support Chief Justice Sereno, who continues to uphold the values of justice and due process, the rights of people to live with dignity and in peace".
The 1987 Constitution states the House of Representatives "shall have the exclusive power" to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, members of Constitutional Commissions such as the Commission on Elections or the Commission on Human Rights, and the Ombudsman.
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But Speaker Alvarez denied such a move, adding that the complaints need to be scrutinized first in the House.
A total of 30 lawmakers voted that the Gadon complaint was sufficient in form, while only four lawmakers voted against it.
Umali said Gadon's complaint was backed by authentic documents, and the committee is ready to furnish copies to the public and opposing lawmakers.
"The democracy won. And so the complaint is deemed insufficient in form and therefore dismissed for the same reason", Umali said.
He stressed Sereno's presence at the Lower House was mandatory when the House justice panel reached the stage of "filing of answer [of the complaint]".
Sereno faces two impeachment complaints for alleged culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and corruption for purportedly bypassing the Supreme Court en banc in creating new offices, her "whimsical" and "excessive" purchase of the P5.1 million Toyota Land Cruiser, and her alleged failure to declare "exorbitant lawyer's fees" allegedly amounting to $745,000, or P37 million.
The complaint was endorsed by at least three lawmakers.
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