House panel finds ground to impeach chief justice Sereno

The House justice committee has found sufficient evidence to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for corruption, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution before a Senate impeachment court, The Manila Times Online reported on Friday (March 9).

The House panel, however, has yet to draft the articles of impeachment that will be sent to the Senate.

House justice panel chairman Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro said on Thursday the vote would be on each charge contained in the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, but this did not happen.

The committee is expected to send the article of impeachment to a plenary vote within 10 days.  The House has 60 days to decide whether or not to impeach Sereno.

At least 98 members of the House of Representatives are needed to impeach or charge the chief justice – the second to be ousted from the office if convicted by the Senate after the late Renato Corona in 2012.

The House panel proceedings revealed that Sereno did not submit her statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALNs) from 1986 to 2006 during her tenure as a UP College of Law professor to the Judicial and Bar Council – the panel that screens judiciary applicants.

The non-submission of SALNs is a violation of the JBC rules.

Sereno was also found to have hired information technology consultant Helen Macasaet for P250,000 per month and failed to declare two properties in Davao City and Batan as well as income as government counsel in the case against NAIA Terminal 3 builder Philippine International Air Terminals Company.