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Gadon's personal knowledge of SC, Sereno matters debated
The House Committee on Justice deemed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Sereno sufficient in form. The STAR / MIGUEL DE GUZMAN, File
MANILA, Philippines — Does private complainant Larry Gadon have personal knowledge—a requirement in the endorsement for impeachment complaint—on his allegations against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno?
During the debate on whether Gadon’s complaint was sufficient in form, members of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice asked whether Gadon has personal knowledge on his complaints against Sereno, some of which include issues raised in internal memoranda of the Supreme Court.
Gadon, a defeated senatorial candidate for the Marcos-era Kilusang Bagong Lipunan and a Duterte Youth lawyer, alleged that Sereno committed culpable violation of the constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.
A total of 25 House members endorsed of Gadon’s complaint.
Zarate: Gadon lacks personal knowledge
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said that upon reading the complaint, he found that Gadon lacks personal knowledge on his accusations against the chief justice.
“I don’t think complainant Gadon was present when these things happened or took place,” Zarate pointed out.
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Gadon alleged that the chief justice has, on several times, manipulated the shortlist of the Judicial and Bar Council, where she sits as chairperson. The JBC is a constitutional body tasked to screen applicants to the judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman.
“There is already defect. Clearly, kung babasahin mo nga, probably binasa niya yung newspaper clippings,” Zarate said.
Gadon, in his complaint, cited news reports of an internal memorandum signed by Associate Justice Teresita De Castro flagging several administrative orders signed by Sereno that allegedly were passed for approval without the consent of the SC in full court.
Some of the memorandum questioned the appointment of a Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja) official and provision of travel allowances of Sereno's staff. Gadon also claimed that Sereno "falsified" several resolutions of the SC, temporary restraining orders (TROs), and even "failed to truthfully disclose her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALN."
The chief justice, Gadon claimed, also committed corruption when "she used public funds to finance her extravagant and lavish lifestyle by ordering the purchase of a brand-new luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser 2017" as her personal vehicle.
Zarate argued: “If we base on news reports, these are clearly hearsay. This proceeding should not be used as fishing expedition proceeding.”
Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao echoed Zarate’s sentiment: “Karamihan ng sinabi niya, wala siyang personal knowledge.”
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also scrutinized Gadon’s allegations cited in the memorandum of Justice De Castro. “All matters pending deliberation and determination by the Supreme Court itself.”
Lagman said the SC in its August 15 resolutio denied Gadon’s request to be furnished with De Castro’s memorandum. “Since these are pending in the Supreme Court, then they cannot be used in the complaint.” Lagman said.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali,committee chairman, said that Gadon's allegations are not hearsay despite being sourced from news reports.
"Let me emphasize that the verification does not limit it to personal knowledge. It also covers facts based on authentic documents and what else could be more authentic than a resolution issued by the Supreme Court," he said.
The panel voted 30-4 to declare the Gadon complaint sufficient in form.