The impeachment complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was dismissed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday after finding out that it was insufficient in form.
Iloilo Representative Arthur Defensor’s motion to determine sufficiency in form for the complaint was approved by only five members of the House of Justice Committee, while there were 28 members who were against it.
According to Majority Leader Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, the impeachment rap which was filed by Dante Jimenez of the VACC and Eligio Mallari of the (VPCI) against Sereno was not properly notarized. Fariñas stressed that Jimenez and Mallari should follow the proper verification form.
On the other hand, Attorney Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon’s complaint was found sufficient in form and substance as there were thirty panel members voted for COOP-NATCO party-list Representative Anthony Bravo and Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque’s motion to determine the sufficiency in form and in substance.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao, Quezon City Representative Kit Belmonte, and Siquijor Representative Ramon Rocamora were the four members of the panel who voted against the motions.
In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of betrayal of public trust, corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, and other high crimes. The complaint was backed by 25 congressmen on August 30.
Meanwhile, both Jimenez and Mallari accused Sereno of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution when she made a new Judiciary Decentralized Office and reopened the Regional Court Administration Office in Western Visayas without the permission from the whole court. The complaint was endorsed by sixteen lawmakers on September 4.
The justice committee shall submit a resolution within 60 days after hearing and by a majority vote of all its members. Sereno, on the other hand, will be given 10 days to respond Gadon’s complaint upon receipt. After which, the resolution will then be scheduled for consideration by the House within 10 session days.
Sereno’s camp was happy on the House’s decision to scrap the separate complaint filed by VACC and VPCI, however, they are disturbed that Gadon’s complaint has been considered sufficient.
The Chief Justice’s spokesperson Carlo Cruz said their camp is hoping that the Congress will decide based on the merits of the case, and assert their commitment to democracy. Cruz added that for the meantime, Sereno continues to discharge her duties with fairness, integrity and humility.