THE camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno yesterday described the decision of the House committee on justice denying her right to cross-examine witnesses and to counsel, a “sad day for justice.”
In a statement, Sereno disclosed that all she wants right now is to go to trial in the Senate.
The committee voted 30-4 to deny Sereno’s motion seeking recognition of her fundamental right to counsel and cross-examination.
“This is a sad day for justice in this country that the Chief Justice, who has fought steadfastly to uphold the Constitution and the right of the citizens, has now been denied her own constitutional rights,” said Atty. Josa Deinla, one of the spokespersons of Sereno.
Despite the setback from the House, Deinla said the Chief Justice remained optimistic that she will have her day in court.
“The Chief Justice is eager to defend herself consistent with her rights and looks forward to her trial before the Senate, where she is hopeful her rights will be fully respected,” she said.
Deinla said the majority of the committee disregarded her fundamental rights as a respondent in an impeachment proceeding.
“While it is the House which under the Constitution, has the ‘exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment’ it can conduct the impeachment process only in accordance with the standards imposed in other provisions in the Constitution including the fundamental rights of the respondent,” according to Sereno’s spokesperson.
Deinla said the committee erred in denying the Chief Justice of her right to be represented by counsel by invoking Section 13(2) of the House Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation.