Sunday , June 24, 2018

Sereno wants to cross-examine witnesses in impeachment rap

THE camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday filed a letter before the House of Representatives seeking her right to cross-examine the witnesses in the impeachment case against her.
In her letter, Sereno, through her lawyers, sought the immediate dismissal of the impeachment complaint against her "even without hearing" citing reasons stated in her verified answer.   
However, if the committee decides to conduct a hearing, Sereno requested to be allowed to confront the witnesses and present evidence in support of her defense during the hearing of the justice committee.  
Sereno insisted that all persons testifying as witnesses against her were not mere "resources persons" but witnesses who may be cross-examined by her counsels in the House proceedings.
Sereno camp sought confirmation of her right through counsel to object to improper questions during direct examination of witnesses of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who filed the impeachment complaint.
"In sum, we humbly submit that under the House Rules, persons who would testify during the hearing would not be considered mere 'resource persons' who would be questioned solely by committee members. Those persons would be full-fledged witnesses, who would be examined by a proponent, and cross-examined by an opponent," the letter read. 
Sereno cited Section 6 of the House Rules, which states that during "submission of evidence," the House panel has the power to issue compulsory processes for the attendance of the witnesses and the production of the documents and other related evidence.
The letter noted September 13 statement of House justice committee chair Reynaldo Umali that Sereno "has constitutional right to confront the witnesses" in the hearing before the committee. 
"We respectfully ask the Hon. Chairman to confirm these reports. If he did make these statements, then he must agree that because the Chief Justice has the right to confront the witnesses in the hearings before the Committee on Justice, then she should be allowed to cross-examine those witnesses through her counsel," the letter added.
"It would not be acceptable for committee members to conduct the cross-examination themselves, because, at this stage of the process, they are judges or quasi-judges whose duty, like the investigating officer in preliminary investigations is to determine probable cause. Preliminary investigations are essentially judicial proceedings," it added.  
Lawyer Anzen Dy, Sereno's counsel, said they hoped that the House justice committee will apply the provisions of the House that will accord Sereno the right to due process.
"If and when the House committee decides not to allow us to cross-examine the complainants' witnesses, then we will take that up with the Chief Justice and decide on our course of action. As of this point, we have to trust the committee that it will, in fact, apply all the provisions of the House rules," Dy said.
Sereno's spokesperson, lawyer Carlo Cruz, said they trust the House panel to uphold the Chief Justice' right cross-examine the witnesses. (SunStar Philippines)