MANILA (Updated) -- The first impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon against Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was deemed sufficient in form and substance by the committee on justice of the House of Representatives.
Separate voting on sufficiency in form and substance yielded the same results, 30-4 votes.
The four lawmakers who voted for the rejection of the complaint are Kaka Bag-ao (Dinagat Island), Kit Belmonte (Quezon City), Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list), and Rav Rocamora (Siquijor).
Gadon’s complaint, verified and endorsed by 25 lawmakers last August 30, alleged that the Chief Justice violated the Constitution, betrayed public trust, committed corruption, and other high crimes.
The first complaint focuses on Sereno's supposed violation in her Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth (SALN) and alleged questionable expenditures as Chief Justice.
During the panel members' interpellation, Zarate cautioned that the complaint may be deemed as a "fishing expedition" against the country's top magistrate, as most of the documents were sourced from news clippings.
"All allegations in the Gadon complaint are based on newspaper clippings. I don't think that will qualify as personal knowledge,” Zarate said.
But House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo defended the complaint and said that at least 20 documents attached in the complaint came from the SC and are deemed authentic.
Representative Reynaldo Umali, chairman of House justice committee, agreed, saying the complaint was backed by authentic documents.
'We respectfully disagree'
Immediately after the approval of the complaint, the camp of Sereno through her spokesperson lawyer Carlo Cruz said they "respectfully disagree" with the House panel's finding.
"We maintain that, contrary to the findings of the House Committee on Justice, none of the allegations in the complaint is true…None of the allegations rise to an impeachable offense," Cruz said.
He added that Sereno has always led "a modest, god-fearing lifestyle," refuting one of the allegations of Gadon that the Chief Justice lives in luxury, demonstrated by her purchase of “luxury vehicle” worth P5 million.
"She has been among the foremost proponents of establishing a culture of modesty and respect for public funds in the Supreme Court," Carlos said.
The panel will now transmit the complaint to Sereno and will await her answer before proceeding to the next step of impeachment. (SunStar Philippines)