Sereno impeachment: We’ll get there, getting endorsers not a problem says House Speaker

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MANILA – A number of congressmen are willing to back the impeachment complaint to be filed against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Wednesday.

Sa totoo, marami na [In truth, there are many willing parties],” he said when asked if congressmen have sounded off support for the complaint. “Kaya lang, sabi ko, time (out) muna, tingnan natin iyong ebidensya kasi ayaw ko naman iyong magmumukha tayong katawa-tawa doon sa impeachment [But I cautioned them, let’s go slow on this first, let’s check out the evidence well. I won’t want us to look ridiculous in this impeachment].”

Ang inaantay lang namin ay iyong mga [We are just waiting for the] certified true copies [of the cited] allegations. Sa tingin ko, walang problema sa mag-e-endorso [In my view, there’s no problem with looking for endorsers],” he added

Since two weeks ago, an impeachment complaint was being poised by lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno, for culpable violation of the Constitution. The complaint, however, has yet to get an endorser from a member of the House in order to be considered filed.

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When filed, the complaint against Sereno will go through hearings at the committee on justice, Alvarez said. Another route is going directly to the Senate if the complaint gathers signatures equivalent to one-thirds of the House membership, or 98 of the 293 members.

Dadaan yan sa committee on justice para handa kami na humarap sa impeachment court. Kasi mahirap naman pagka halimbawa pinasa kaagad natin yan dun sa Senado—doon sa impeachment court—at kulang-kulang naman yung dokumento namin di syempre magmumukha naman kaming kengkoy doon [That has to go through the committee on justice before being brought to the impeachment court. If, for example, we hurried in bringing it to the Senate – the impeachment court – and the documents are not complete, we will look silly there],” he said.

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Gadon was at the House last week, but failed to file the complaint because it has no endorser yet. He was expected to return on Wednesday, August 30.

Alvarez surmised that many lawmakers would support Sereno’s impeachment because they see the problems in the judiciary have remained unsolved.

He said cases have piled up at the regional trial courts and municipal trial courts, with an average resolution time of at least five years. Decisions of the lower courts can still be appealed before the Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court, which even prolongs the process.

The House leader said the number of RTCs and MTCs should be increased and more specialized courts should be created. He also wants the Court of Appeals abolished; appeals for certain cases could be directed to the Supreme Court, he said.

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Alvarez had floated he abolish-the-CA option after a division of the appellate court issued the House leaders an order for them to explain why they refused to release six Ilocos Norte provincial government employees detained by the House for contempt. Lawyers for the six had sought remedy with the CA. An angry Alvarez had said the court has no business meddling with how Congress does its work, especially in compelling witnesses to behave properly.

Sereno was appointed on August 16, 2010 as the 169th Justice and on August 24, 2012 as the 24th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Born on July 2, 1960, she is the youngest to be so appointed to the SC in this century. She may also be one of the longest-serving ever, as she is to mandatorily retire in 2030 after serving a 20-year term.

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