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House panel to vote on probable cause on Sereno impeach complaint next week

The House committee on justice will vote next week to determine probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, as it wraps up on Tuesday its deliberations on the matter.

"Today marks the end of the hearings for the determination of probable cause whether the Chief Magistrate of the land have in fact committed or omitted actions tantamount to an impeachable offense," House panel chair Reynaldo Umali said.

"The voting for the probable cause hearing we intend to hold next week to give us sufficient time to discern on our votes since the results will all depend on the individual appreciation of this Committee," he added.

The culmination of the deliberations came after 15 hearings to determine probable cause on the impeachment complaint lodged by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.

Gadon has 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.

Umali pointed out that it was the first time that the impeachment proceedings has reached such stage.

"The termination of these clarificatory hearings have proven that constitutional processes and mechanisms are in place and can function without causing conflict between the branches of government," he said.

"The hearings we have conducted since November of last year have proven that there are alarming issues within the High Court that necessitates evaluation of the fitness of the Chief magistrate to continue holding the high office of the head of the third branch of the government which is the Judiciary," he added.

Umali noted that since Sereno never attended any of the panel's deliberations, they are constrained to decide on the matter basing only on the complaint and testimonies given by the resource persons.

"Though it is regretful to see that the Chief Justice has taken her case to the media rather than present her defense to this platform, the Committee must still continue to perform its constitutional mandate to be the sole prosecutors of the impeachment case," he said.

Following the decision of the panel, a committee report and a resolution will be submitted to the plenary, to be approved by at one-third of all members of the House of Representatives.

The Articles of Impeachment will then be submitted to the Senate, acting as impeachment court. —KG, GMA News