House panel declassifies results of Sereno's psychological test, discussion in executive session

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — The House Committee on Justice on Thursday ruled to declassify the results of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's psychological test and all that was discussed in its close-door session on February 27.

Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc moved to make public the information prior to the panel's voting on probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Sereno.

Two committee members initially objected to the motion, but later withdrew.

"The motion is carried and the information is now declassified," House Justice Committee Chairman Reynaldo Umali declared.

He was referring to documents and testimonies related to Sereno's psychiatric test, the same set of results psychiatrists from the Judicial Bar and Council shared with lawmakers in the executive session.

Umali said these can now be used as evidence in an impeachment trial at the Senate.

The panel voted 38-2 on Thursday finding probable cause to impeach the Chief Justice.  The committee will meet again on March 14 to approve its report to the plenary.

If at least one-third of the members of the House of Representatives vote to impeach Sereno, the complaint would go to trial at the Senate.

Umali earlier said Sereno should be impeached for betraying the public's trust in failing to disclose information on her mental condition.

READ: Umali: We want to make CJ Sereno's psych test public  

In his impeachment complaint,  lawyer Larry Gadon claimed Sereno "failed in a psychiatric exam" prior to her appointment by scoring a 4, with 5 as the lowest.

Sereno: We can 'easily debunk' psych test results in Senate

In an exclusive interview with CNN Philippines, Sereno however, brushed off the panel's vote to declassify the test.

"If that is their vote, I have to look at the merits of the idea that they have," she said. "In any case, when we get to the Senate, that can easily be debunked."

She cited a Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) statement that chided the House Committee on Justice for its "misuse" of the Chief Justice's test results.

PAP said a psychological assessment should only be used for the specific purpose for which it was conducted. It added Sereno could not have flunked "as no one 'passes' or 'fails' a psychological assessment."

READ: Psychologists dispute House justice panel assessment on Sereno's mental health

"They issued a strong statement already explaining the utter lack of basis for the testimonies that were given in the House supposedly trying to analyze me made by someone who's never met me. That throws the whole question of expertise open," said Sereno.

Sereno added her lawyers are still deciding if they will oppose the declassification of the test.

"This seems to tie together to point to a desired outcome, regardless of the evidence, regardless of the basis. The outcome seems to be predetermined," she said.

 

Sereno's camp has said the score does not mean failure in the test, especially if no troubling psychological conditions were found. They also argued that the performance on such an exam was not an impeachable offense.

"This is nothing but a mere publicity stunt with the intention to humiliate, insult, malign, ridicule and discredit the Chief Justice before the public," Josa Deinla, one of Sereno's spokespersons said in an earlier statement.

READ: Sereno camp to exclude psychological test as evidence in Senate trial