Spokesperson: Chief Justice open to attending impeachment hearings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 28) — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is open to appearing at impeachment hearings, her spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"[She] had properly always leaned toward the position of preserving the dignity of the Office of the Chief Justice," Sereno's spokesperson Carlo Cruz told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"She would continue in these proceedings purely and basely on the advice of counsel, such that if ultimately the very competent group of lawyers... would advise her, 'Maybe it is time for you to appear,' why not?" he added.

Sereno has not attended House Justice Committee hearings scrutinizing an impeachment complaint against her. The panel previously barred her lawyers from cross-examining witnesses on her behalf.

The committee also invited Supreme Court justices to testify, but they have yet to make an appearance.

Related: Supreme Court justices and officials skip Sereno impeachment hearing

Cruz believed that if justices are to appear, they would "consider the dignity of the court."

"If they do make statements, hopefully there will be occasion or opportunity for the Chief Justice through any of her representatives – or... through any of the congressmen – to propound questions by way of clarification," he said.

The spokesperson also denied the rumored rivalry between Sereno and Associate Justice Teresita De Castro, who had been invited to the House. De Castro denied supplying information to a Manila Times reporter, whose article was cited as a source in the impeachment complaint.

When asked if the two justices had tension, Cruz said, "I'll say this much – not from the Chief Justice's side... [She] continues to consider Justice De Castro as a brethren, as a sister in the court."

Cruz added they believe impeachment complainant Larry Gadon's allegations will fall flat, particularly after De Castro and the reporter Jomar Canlas denied exchanging information as he alleged.

Related: Reporter denies SC justice as source in story vs. Sereno

Cruz said their camp is hopeful, despite previous impressions the House was only fishing for evidence. The camp previously called on the Lower House to just take the complaint to the Senate.

"We are not yet there [in Senate]. We make do with what we are facing today and now," said Cruz. "Now, I repeat, we cannot but remain hopeful and we are encouraged by how proceedings are continuing."