Justice Carpio refuses to testify in Sereno impeachment hearing

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Updated with details from Carpio's letter to the House Committee on Justice

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 11) — Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio declined an invitation to testify in the impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice.

"I have no personal knowledge of the matters the committee wants to question me," Carpio said Thursday in a text message to CNN Philippines.

He was referring to the House Committee on Justice which is examining probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. The committee will resume its hearing on January 15.

CNN Philippines obtained a copy of Carpio's letter to the committee, informing them of his decision to decline taking the witness stand.

He said he did not have personal knowledge of the allegations that Sereno falsified the high court's temporary restraining orders, manipulated the selection process of the Judicial and Bar Council, hired an IT consultant without proper bidding, and other administrative matters.

Carpio is chairman of the high court's raffling committee which was mentioned in one of the grounds for Sereno's impeachment.

Supreme Court Clerk of Court Atty. Felipa Anama said the Justice Department's request to transfer the handling of terror cases outside of Mindanao was assigned to the Chief Justice. This is contrary to usual court procedure, which requires cases to be raffled off to justices.

"I wish to state that I was on wellness leave on 19 June 2017, the day the Maute cases were raffled. I was out of the country from 19 June 2017 to 3 July 2017," Carpio said in his letter to the justice committee.

 

In the case filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, the alleged delay in the Supreme Court's decision was credited to Sereno as "manipulation" and thus, culpable violation of the Constitution.

Three Supreme Court justices earlier testified against Sereno, saying there seemed to be no urgency on her part to transfer the trial of Maute cases outside of Mindanao. They are associate justices Noel Tijam, Teresita de Castro, and Francis Jardeleza.

The Chief Justice is accused of violating the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes - grounds for officials to be impeached under the 1987 Constitution.

Sereno denied the allegations, and asked for the complaint to be junked.

READ: Chief Justice cannot be impeached for 'delay' in decision on Aguirre's request, Sereno camp says

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.