'Rebuttal by email': Chief Justice's lawyers lament house panel decision to bar them from participating in impeachment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) —The House justice committee's decision Wednesday to prohibit the lawyers of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from attending the impeachment hearing is a denial of her right to counsel and fair trial, her lawyers said.

"The Committee decision to prohibit the lawyers of the Chief Justice from attending the hearing is tantamount to barring CJ (Chief Justice) Sereno herself, and belies their claim of an open and democratic process that honors the right to a fair trial," her lawyers said in an email message.

Voting 30-4, the house panel disallowed lawyers of Sereno to cross-examine witnesses on her behalf in the impeachment proceedings. 

READ: House panel prohibits Chief Justice's lawyers from participating in impeachment proceeding

"In view of this, we will be sending real-time commentaries on the proceedings as it transpires," her spokespersons said.

"It is deplorable that we should have to resort to rebuttal by email just to ensure that our side is heard," they added.

They reiterated that the Chief Justice maintains her innocence against the charges.

Lawyers for Sereno earlier said that if the lawyers were refused participation in the hearings, they may question the alleged denial of Sereno's right to counsel before the high court.

The House of Representatives and Sereno's camp have been engaged in an argument over the Chief Justice's right for her lawyers to represent her and question witnesses in the impeachment proceedings against her.

The lower house believes this contravenes the rules of procedure of the House of Representatives for impeachment, while the lawyers assert she has the right to be represented by counsel.

Lawyer Larry Gadon is accusing the Chief Justice of violating the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.