TEN associate justices are expected to appear before the impeachment hearings at the House of Representatives to testify against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, according to a Manila Times report.
Citing a “well-placed sources inside the high court,” Manila Times said six magistrates are expected to be invited as resource persons on the allegations against Sereno, apart from the three incumbent magistrates and one retired justice who previously testified against her before the House Committee on Justice.
Last December, Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Noel Tijam and Francis Jardeleza, as well as retired justice Arturo Brion appeared before the House committee and testified about the falsification, anomalies and other irregularities allegedly committed by Sereno.
The six magistrates expected to testify before the House of Representatives were Antonio Carpio, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Andres Reyes and Samuel Martires.
According to the report, Carpio and Bersamin will testify on the raffle of the case of the Maute group.
In can be recalled that Tijam previously testified that Sereno allegedly “stole” the case from him, further calling the chief justice’s apparent delaying of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s request to transfer the trial of Maute cases from Mindanao to Taguig City as “arrogation” upon herself of the power of the court en banc.
Meanwhile, Peralta, who was the acting chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when Sereno applied for the chief justice post in 2012, is expected to make clear the issue of psychiatric exam that Sereno supposedly flunked.
The Manila Times also said that Del Castillo will testify on Sereno’s procurement of a “luxurious” P5.1 million-worth Toyota Land Cruiser, while Martines will testify on the reported late release of benefits of the spouses of the justices who had passed away.
Reyes, on the other hand, is expected to testify on the case of the so-called “Ilocos 6” provincial government employees, who were detained at the House of Representatives in connection with the government’s alleged irregular purchase of P66.45 million-worth vehicles.
Sereno was accused of meddling in the case by going to the Court of Appeals herself.
In a statement, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the hearings on the impeachment complaint against Sereno would be likely be finished in two months and one week.
He added that the committee on justice will be able to submit its report in time allowing the House to vote on it before Congress starts its seven-week Holy Week recess on March 24.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who file the impeachment complaint against the chief justice, accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, high crime, and betrayal of public trust.