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Walang ginawang mali: House panel junks impeachment raps vs. justices in Sereno ouster

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

MANILA – The House Justice Committee on Tuesday (September 11) dismissed the consolidated impeachment raps against the seven Supreme Court magistrates who favored the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Voting 1-23, the justice panel chaired by Mindoro Oriental Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon junked the motion of Siquijor Rep. Ramon Rocamora who moved to declare the charges against the 7 magistrates “sufficient in substance.”

The 23 solons agreed that the combined impeachment charges filed against newly appointed Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and six other associate justices of the high court is “insufficient in substance.”

Last September 4, the justice committee declared the consolidated impeachment charges sufficient in form.

Aside from de Castro, also included the separate charges were Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo.

Deputy Minority Floor Leader Alfredo Garbin (Ako Bicol Partylist) told members of the justice panel that the accusations made by the complainants against the respondents did cannot be basis to impeach the seven SC justices.

Members of the Magnificent 7 bloc led by Albay Rep. Edcel Laman last month filed the cases that accused de Castro and the six justices of committing culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for refusing to inhibit themselves from the quo warranto case filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

The said quo warranto case questioned the qualifications and eligibility of Sereno when she was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III as the country’s chief magistrate.

“There is nothing culpable in the actions of the Justices in exercising their Constitutionally mandated responsibility to exercise original jurisdiction over petition for quo warranto as stated in Section 5, Article 8 of the 1987 Constitution,” said Garbin.

For his part, Deputy Minority Floor Leader Anthony Bravo (COOP-NATCO Partylist) stressed that “the acts constituting the impeachable offense must be deliberate and motivated by bad faith” and the seven justices are only doing their constitutional mandate when they acted to the quo warranto petition.

Kabayan Partylist Rep. Ron Salo stressed that fefusing to inhibit from the proceedings “does not necessarily equate to betrayal of public trust.”

Salo said the participation in the deliberation and in deciding the quo warranto proceedings of the seven magistrates “is in fact consistent with their sworn duty to perform their functions without fear or favor to anyone, other than promoting the interest of our people.”