CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has gone on leave amid the impeachment proceedings against her.
Her spokesperson, lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, said Sereno has gone on a wellness leave.
But House committee on justice chairman Reynaldo Umali cited unconfirmed reports saying the Supreme Court en banc had compelled Sereno to go on indefinite leave.
"Kasinungalingan yung sinasabing wellness leave. It is indefinite leave and, I hate to say it, this was because the en banc forced her into it. So in other words, majority, if not at all, of the en banc forced her to go on leave," Umali said at the resumption of the impeachment hearing against Sereno Tuesday, February 27.
Lacanilao declined to confirm this, saying he did not know because he was not at the en banc session.
"Hindi ko alam kasi wala ako sa en banc," Lacanilao said at the sidelines of the impeachment hearing against Sereno at the House of Representatives Tuesday, February 27.
He said the Chief Justice was scheduled to take a wellness leave in March, but he did not know when it will take effect.
Neither did Lacanilao know when Sereno is expected to be back.
"Meron siyang scheduled na wellness leave sa March talagang nakaschedule na 'yun matagal na, in-advance lang niya para makapag-prepare din siya sa Senate trial," Lacanilao said.
"...Wellness leave para sumigabo ulit siguro yung kanyang katawan," he added.
Umali was not convinced. He said the committee was fed up with the lies.
"Again, hindi ko maintindihan bakit ganito. Again, let me address this later sa mga psychiatrists natin and psychologists. Bakit ganito? Parang panlilinlang e. Nililinlang natin ang tao, hindi naman pala ito, pero iba yung lumalabas sa bibig niya o bibig ng kanyang mga spokesperson," he said.
"Pati yata yung kanyang mga spokesperson, nahawa na sa kasinungalingan. And this is what we went through as an impeachment committee," he added.
Lacanilao, in an interview with reporters, said the Chief Justice took a wellness leave probably to regain her strength.
He denied that Sereno is stressed out due to the ongoing impeachment hearings against her.
Lacanilao also emphasized that Sereno will not resign.
"Please keep that away from your mind. She's not going to resign," he told the media.
"Whatever is the call, wala pong balak magresign si Chief Justice Sereno and she's preparing to face this sa Senado," Lacanilao said.
Sereno has repearedly snubbed the invitations of the House justice panel for her to attend the hearings on her impeachment -- now on its 15th day.
She earlier asked the House committee on justice to allow her legal counsel speak on her behalf but to no avail.
The House justice committee has yet to release its findings on whether there is probable cause to impeach Sereno based on lawyer Lorenzo Gadon's complaint.
Lacanilao said Sereno will only speak when the complaint is endorsed to the Senate for trial.
"Dun po maririnig nyo na ang istorya ni Chief Justice Sereno (You would hear Chief Justice Sereno's side at the Senate)," he said. (SunStar Philippines)