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Get to know the 3 Gloria-Duterte appointed justices set to testify in Sereno’s impeachment

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By Xave Gregorio

Three more Supreme Court (SC) justices have been invited to testify before the House Committee on Justice when it resumes its hearing to determine if there is probable cause to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

But who are they?

SC Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin are both appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, while SC Associate Justice Samuel Martires is President Rodrigo Duterte’s first appointee to the judiciary.

All three Arroyo-Duterte appointees have voted consistently in favor on issues backed by President Duterte.

Similarly, Arroyo-appointed SC Associate Justice Teresita De Castro, who has previously appeared in impeachment hearings, also voted in favor of acquitting Arroyo, declaring martial law in the whole of Mindanao, burying former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the arrest and detention of Senator Leila de Lima.

Among the three SC justices invited to appear at the impeachment hearing on Monday (January 13) is Peralta, who was appointed to the High Court by Arroyo on January 2009 and sat as the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) chair when Sereno and De Castro both vied for the Chief Justice post.

Among the charges against Sereno include her alleged manipulation of the JBC to block the appointment of SC Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, who had also testified against Sereno in the impeachment hearings.

Bersamin is another Arroyo-appointed justice who may testify against Sereno at the impeachment hearing.

In 2011, he voted in favor of granting bail to former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile for humanitarian reasons, which was dissented by SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. Sereno concurred with Leonen’s dissent, where it is alleged that the SC’s majority decision is not the version they deliberated upon.

SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, an Arroyo appointee, also concurred with Leonen’s opinion. Carpio was also invited by the House Committee on Justice but declined, saying he has no personal knowledge on any of the charges the committee wants him to testify on.

Another SC justice who has been invited to appear is Martires, Duterte’s first appointee to the judiciary.

Much like other SC justices who appeared to testify in impeachment hearings against Sereno, Martires has signalled his desire to attend the hearings in a letter to House Committee on Justice chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali.

This is a stark contrast to previous attempts to impeach former Chief Justices.

Jardeleza himself admitted that former Chief Justices Hilario Davide and Renato Corona enjoyed the support of their colleagues and SC staff.

He also admitted that Sereno is not enjoying the same kind of support Davide and Corona had due to her alleged lack of respect.

The House Committee on Justice is set to resume its hearing on the impeachment case filed by abogado Lorenzo Gadon against Sereno and are still determining whether there is probable cause to impeach the Chief Justice.

Gadon, in a news conference in Quezon City on Thursday (January 11), said he is happy that more High Court magistrates have come forward to testify against Sereno.

The abogado said he expects the justices to be “naughty as against Justice Sereno and nice as towards Atty. Larry Gadon.”