SUPREME Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will not attend the House committee on justice hearing on the impeachment complaint against her on Wednesday, November 22.
But her lawyers - Alexander Poblador, Dino Vivencio Tamayo, Anzen Dy, Justin Christopher Mendoza, Carla Pingul, Sandra Mae Magalang, Jayson Aguilar, Oswald Imbat, Enrico Esmundo Castello III, Charles Richard Avila and Patricia Geralde - will attend on her behalf.
This was stated in the Special Power of Attorney that Sereno filed through her lawyers before the justice committee chaired by Reynaldo Umali on Tuesday, November 21.
The SPA authorizes Sereno's lawyers to speak on her behalf during the impeachment proceedings, a move earlier criticized by both Umali and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who insisted that Sereno attend the hearing and personally answer the allegations against her.
"She will be represented by her counsel. She has executed a special power of attorney in their favor," lawyer Carlo Cruz, one of Sereno's spokespersons, said in a text message to Sunstar Philippines when asked to confirm if Sereno will not attend the hearing.
At a press conference, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the House committee on justice should resolve first the motions filed by some of the members of the minority, aimed at allowing Sereno's lawyers to represent the Chief Justice and cross-examine the witnesses against her on her behalf.
Lagman was among the congressmen who filed a position paper before the committee explaining Sereno's right to counsel and to cross-examine through her lawyers.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, who attended the same press conference, said he has also submitted his position paper before the committee which states his stand on his right to participate.
During the second hearing on Sereno's impeachement, there was a ruling by Umali stating that non-members of the committee on justice could not participate in the impeachment proceedings.
The move of the committee on justice, which Villarin called "oppressive" and "non-democratic", was against the tradition of the House of Representatives, the lawmakers said.
Lagman believes the committee should tackle first their motions, including the motions earlier filed by the camp of Sereno, before proceeding with the impeachement hearing.
Asked if they will file a complaint against members of the committee if they will not be allowed to participate, Lagman answered "we'll cross the bridge when we get there."
The committee will determine in Wednesday's hearing if there is probable cause to proceed with Sereno's impeachment trial.
It earlier found the complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon accusing the Chief Justice of corruption, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the constitution to be sufficient in form and substance. (SunStar Philippines)