Sereno camp: Baring psychiatric records 'sets bad precedent'

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Highlights

  • Lacanilao: Psychological exam results not grounds for impeachment
  • Lacanilao: Testimony from psychiatrists a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality
  • Lacanilao: Some justices may have 'personal grudges' vs. Sereno

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — Using the psychiatric records of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as a basis of impeachment sets a bad precedent for other officials, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Sereno's spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao told CNN Philippines' The Source, baring such records opens a can of worms for other justices and all other appointees.

"Unless there is a verifiable, diagnosed medical psychiatric condition, then every kind of psychological exam — you're walking on thin ice when you use these things to get people out of office," said Lacanilao.

 

The House Justice Committee on Monday subpoenaed two psychiatrists, Dr. Dulce Liza Sahagun Reyes and Dr. Genuina Ranoy, who supposedly administered Sereno's exam.

Complainant Larry Gadon questioned Sereno's mental condition, claiming she "failed" in a psychiatric exam prior to her appointment by scoring 4 out of 5.

Lacanilao, however, argued that the performance on such an exam is not an impeachable offense.

"There's nothing in the Constitution that says if you receive a grade of 4... you're going to be impeached by Congress," he added.

Lacanilao further disputed that the score meant an official failed in the test, especially if no troubling psychological conditions were found.

He also said the lawmakers should respect doctor-patient confidentiality, a right the patient is entitled to as stated under the Philippine Medical Association's Code of Ethics.

The Department of Health guidelines also state doctors are barred from sharing information about their patients without their consent. Records will be revealed only if a court orders it, if the patient waives the confidentiality, or if baring such information will be in the interest of public health and safety.

"I hope even the supermajority will have a good sense [not] to ask somebody about a personal matter of a patient... We're not appealing to anybody. I'm appealing to the humanity of everybody here," Lacanilao said.

Sereno's camp has slammed the impeachment hearings as a "vilification campaign" and has denied all allegations against the Chief Justice.

Personal grudges?

Six Supreme Court justices have testified on Sereno at the House hearings that resumed Monday, namely Associate Justices Samuel Martires, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Noel Tijam, Teresita de Castro, and Francis Jardeleza.

Without dropping names, Lacanilao said some of the justices "testified on very personal grudges."

"When you hear the testimonies, many are differences of opinion, management style, leadership style, relationship-wise," said Lacanilao.

He said none of the justices have given a concrete testimony and evidence that the Chief Justice has violated the Constitution in any way.

Related: Justices' claims only opinions, not grounds for CJ's impeachment - Sereno lawyer