Sereno: House Justice Committee has been 'blatantly unfair'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — Embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the impeachment proceedings in the House Justice Committee have been "blatantly unfair."

"Considering the (House Justice Committee) has denied me my right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses and resource persons arrayed against me is nothing but blatantly unfair," Sereno said Thursday.

The Chief Justice delivered an inspirational message before members of the Philippine Women Judges Association, which is holding a three-day convention. Among her audience was Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita de Castro, who testified against her in the House proceedings.

While Sereno was speaking in the forum, the House Justice panel also voted to determine if there is probable cause to impeach the Chief Justice.

Voting 38-2, the lawmakers said the Chief Justice should be removed from office.

Sereno did not attend any of the hearings in the House panel, which ran for more than four months.

During the first probable cause hearing, the committee prohibited the Chief Justice's lawyers to cross-examine witnesses and resource persons.

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

The Chief Justice also faces a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court, filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Although she did not mention the quo warranto petition, Sereno said all means to try her other than impeachment is nothing but an admission that her detractors "failed to come up with any evidence with which (she) can be convicted in the Senate."

"Napakaaga naman yata para umamin sila na wala silang napala kundi matinding kabiguan. Kaya kung anu-ano na lamang ang gimik na ginagawa nila masunod lamang ang kanilang nais," Sereno said.

(Translation: It seems early to admit they did not find anything substantial. That's why they are trying anything to achieve what they want.)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave Sereno 10 days to respond to the quo warranto case filed by Solicitor General Calida.

READ: SC gives Sereno 10 days to respond to petition to oust her

A quo warranto is a legal proceeding where an individual's right to hold office is challenged.

Sereno reiterated that she is waiting for the impeachment hearing to advance to the Senate.

"This fight is a fight for judicial independence, for the right of every member of the Court to confront her accuser face to face in a trial type proceeding, where all allegations can be challenged, and all lies can be unmasked," Sereno said.