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House panel finds Gadon impeachment complaint vs. Sereno sufficient in form, substance

The House Committee on Justice on Wednesday found lawyer Lorenzo "Larry" Gadon's impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno sufficient in form and substance.

Thirty members of the justice committee voted for the motion of COOP-NATCO party-list Representative Anthony Bravo's motion to determine the sufficiency in form of the Gadon's complaint and Kabayan party-list Representative Harry Roque's motion to determine its sufficiency in substance.

Only four members of the panel -- Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, Quezon City Representative Kit Belmonte, Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao and Siquijor Representative Ramon Rocamora -- voted against the motions.

In his complaint, Gadon accused Sereno of committing acts which serve as ground for her impeachment, such as culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.

Twenty-five congressmen endorsed his complaint.

In opposing Bravo's motion, Zarate argued that Gadon only attached newspaper clippings to support his allegations against the Chief Justice, which does not show his personal knowledge in his complaint.

"I don't think that is personal knowledge. I don't think Gadon was present when these things happened or took place. There are other allegations here that i think are pure hearsay," Zarate said.

Bag-ao supported Zarate's opinion.

"Secondary sources will not constitute personal knowledge and are considered hearsay," she said.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, however, enumerated 20 authentic documents released by the Supreme Court which support the allegations of Gadon.

AKO-BICOL party-list Alfredo Garbin Jr. supported Farinas' statement.

"Clearly, authentic documents are in," Garbin said.

Zarate also opposed the finding of sufficiency in substance.

"Hindi natupad ang requirement ng sufficiency in substance. Hindi lang simpleng ground ito na kahit ano na lang isaksak sa complaint para matanggal ang isang impeachable official," he said.

Bag-ao, on the other hand, said that Gadon's allegation of Sereno culpably violating the Constitution, for instance, does not reference a constitutional provision.

The House panel, meanwhile, dismissed the separate impeachment complaint filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chairman Dante Jimenez and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. president Atty. Eligio Mallari.

Only five panel members voted for the motion of Iloilo Representative Arthur Defensor to determine sufficiency in form for the complaint.

Twenty-eight members, meanwhile, voted against the motion. —ALG, GMA News