By Ben R. Rosario
In a near unanimous voting yesterday, the House Committee on Justice approved the committee report and articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno for culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.
With only one of the 34 members present voting against the report, the panel agreed to recommend Sereno’s impeachment and submit the report finding probable cause on the four grounds for her removal for plenary voting.
Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, committee chairman, predicted that the one-third vote required to impeach Sereno and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate will be achieved.
However, plenary voting is not expected until Congress resumes regular session in May. The House has two session days remaining.
Umali said the House will pursue Sereno’s ouster as chief magistrate through impeachment even as the SC is deliberating on the petition for quo warranto that assailed her appointment as void ab initio.
He admitted that there might be a chance that the High Court will be able to resolve the quo warranto case ahead of the impeachment proceedings. In case this happens and Sereno’s appointment is voided, the impeachment will be terminated.
In the 45-page committee report, the panel said that after a vote of 38 in favor and two against, it has come to the conclusion that “probable cause exists” in the impeachment case filed by lawyer Larry Gadon.
This conclusion came after the panel conducted 15 hearings in the past four months. Sereno never attended any of the hearings while her lawyers were not allowed to participate by cross-examining witnesses.