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House panel denies Sereno lawyers chance to cross-examine witnesses

The House Committee on Justice on Wednesday denied the legal counsel of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno the chance to cross-examine the witnesses to be presented in proceedings of the impeachment complaint against her at the House of Representatives.

With a vote of 30 in the affirmative and four in the negative, the House panel approved the motion of AKO BICOL party-list Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr. to deny the motion of Sereno's lawyers to allow them to conduct the cross-examination on her behalf.

Sereno's lawyers earlier submitted two letters, and subsequently a formal motion, to the House justice committee to assert the high magistrate's right to cross-examine the witnesses against her through her counsel.

House panel chair Reynaldo Umali said that the panel will allow cross-examination only if Sereno will do so herself.

After the decision, Umali explained that the panel is not depriving Sereno her right to counsel.

Sereno's legal counsel may ask questions through the members of the panel or through the chairman himself, Umali said.

After the denial,  Sereno's lawyers asked the panel to excuse themselves from the proceeding.

Sereno's camp later issued a statement lamenting the decision of the House of Representatives justice committee to deny her request for her lawyers to grill witnesses to be presented in the impeachment proceedings.

This Wednesday, the House justice panel is conducting a hearing to determine probable cause on the impeachment case against Sereno. —LBG, GMA News