House panel defers voting on Sereno articles of impeachment

The House committee on justice has deferred its voting on the draft articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

In an interview on Tuesday, March 13, committee chairman Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali said the vice chairpersons of the committee have yet to finalize the draft articles of impeachment and the draft committee report.

He said there had been disagreements on which of the allegations of complainant Lorenzo Gadon would be carried by the committee.

The draft reports were originally scheduled to be voted upon on Wednesday, March 14.

"Hindi namin natapos yung ano, articles of impeachment kasi hindi kami magkasundo kung ilan yung isasama and kung... Ang gusto ng iba comprehensive talaga to show that this is really a very strong case and I believe so too," Umali said.

(We did not finish the articles of impeachment because we could not agree on which allegations would be included. We want this to be comprehensive.)

Umali said the documents will probably be ready for votation by Monday or Tuesday, March 19 or 20.

According to Umali, among the strongest allegations against Sereno which will likely be included in the articles of impeachment are her supposed non-filing of Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth and the purchase of a luxury vehicle for her by the Supreme Court.

Prosecution panel

Umali confirmed that former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile had expressed his willingness to join the prosecution panel in the Senate trial against the chief magistrate.

Enrile had been part of the prosecution panel during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Two lawyers who were part of the defense panel during the Corona impeachment, Tranquil Salvador III and Dennis Manalo, also volunteered according to Umali.

The composition of the 11-man panel has yet to be deliberated upon by the committee on justice and will be submitted to the plenary for approval.

Last week, the same committee, voting 38-2 ruled that there is probable cause to oust Sereno. (SunStar Philippines)