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Sereno planning to seek help from High Court peers to stop impeachment

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Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is looking at the possibility of seeking relief from her colleagues at the Supreme Court (SC) regarding the impeachment proceedings against her before the Congress, her lead spokesman bared on Monday.

Sereno is facing impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon.

Sereno’s spokesman Carlo Cruz said filing a plea before the high court to stop the House of Representatives from proceeding with the impeachment was one of their options.

But Cruz said their camp would wait for final decision of the House committee on justice on Sereno’s plea for her lawyers to cross examine witnesses against her before pursuing such an option.

“It’s an option, of course. There’s no plan yet to pursue it at this point. The Chief Justice and her lawyers shall make their assessment when the House committee on justice re-convenes on November 20,” Cruz noted.

The House committee on justice has already found Gadon’s complaint sufficient in form and substance.

Aside from asking that her lawyers be allowed to cross examine witnesses, Sereno’s camp recently filed a motion asking the committee to recognize her constitutionally guaranteed rights to be represented by a legal counsel and be allowed to object to questions during the direct examination of the witnesses and be furnished with documentary and testimonial evidence.

Sereno earlier decried the violation of her constitutional rights when the House committee rejected the plea of her lawyers to cross examine witnesses.

In his impeachment complaint, Gadon cited 27 acts where Sereno allegedly betrayed public trust, committed corruption, and other high crimes, particularly the untruthful declaration of her wealth in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) – the same ground that allies of former president Benigno Aquino III used to oust then Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.

Gadon also accused Sereno of extravagant spending of judicial funds by purchasing a P5-million Toyota Land Cruiser and traveling on first-class flights among the grounds.

He also cited as basis Sereno’s order in 2012 to reopen a regional constitutional administrative office in Cebu without the collegial approval of the Court, which was later on revoked by the SC.

Gadon’s complaint cited the chief justice’s alleged inactions on the applications for survivorship benefits of spouses of justices and judges and also on filling of vacancies in key posts in the judiciary allegedly to wait for members of her staff to qualify. (PNA)