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Umali slams Sereno’s lawyers for branding impeach case as ‘dog and pony show’

House Committee on Justice chair Reynaldo Umali on Monday slammed the lawyers of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for branding the impeachment proceedings as a "dog and pony show."

Umali said lawyers Joshua Santiago and Aldwin Salumbides, who are also the spokespersons of the Chief Justice, should respect the proceedings of the panel.

"Lawyers should understand being officers of the court that they should respect the proceedings of the House and not resort to saying adverse statements," he said.

"If I may just enjoin the lawyers, please respect this impeachment committee lest we will be forced to again use the coercive powers of the court, of this impeachment committee, and/or other powers that are vested in the House of Representatives para lang maging maayos po ang ating proceeding," Umali added.

"We are trying our darnest best to be fair. If you feel that this committee has not been fair to your client, keep it to yourself, i-discuss niyo among yourself, but don't resort to name calling or putting or casting aspersion in this impeachment committee because may hangganan din po ang pasensiya namin and I hope we will not come to that," Umali said.

Santiago and Salumbides in a forum over the weekend said that the panel should already vote instead of turning the impeachment proceedings into a "dog and pony show."

They also called the complaint of lawyer Lorenzo "Larry" Gadon as "weak" despite being deemed sufficient in form, substance and also with sufficient grounds.

Both lawyers said they are also hoping that the top magistrate will be given a fair impeachment trial at the Senate.


Meanwhile, another spokesperson and lawyer of Sereno, Jojo Lacanilao, apologized and said they did not intend to disrespect the panel.

"We apologize kung na-offend sila and we don't disrespect the committee. We recognize ang soberenya ng House at ng committee at kami ay nagtitiwala na magkakaroon ng hustisya at the end ng proseso kung umabot man ito sa Senado," Lacanilao told reporters in an ambush interview.

Lacanilao explained that Santiago and Salumbides were just carried away by their emotions.

"'Yung sidhi ng emotion din siguro at nabanggit nila 'yung kung anu-anong salita, pero ang ibig sabihin naman no'n hindi 'yung komite eh. Ang ibig sabihin po nu'n 'yung mga ebidensiya or mga allegations na inilabas ng complainant na hindi naman po mapatunayan, 'yun po 'yung mga criticize nila," he said.

The House panel had barred the Chief Justice's lawyers from cross-examining witnesses even after their constant assertion of the supposed right to counsel and to cross-examine. —KG, GMA News