House prepares for SC justices' testimony in Sereno impeachment hearing

MANILA, Philippines – No repeat of questions and don't beat around the bush.

Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali on Tuesday, November 28, reminded the members of the powerful justice committee to "accord [Supreme Court associate justices] due respect" when they face the committee as resource persons in its hearing on an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Umali made the statement at the end of Tuesday's hearing, the 3rd the committee has held as it determines probable cause in the complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno.

The SC en banc on Tuesday voted to allow justices and employees invited by the committee to testify in its hearings "if they so wish." They may only testify on "administrative matters."

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, whom Gadon had repeatedly said would be in the best position to elaborate on the details of occurrences which he claims are impeachable offenses, was allowed to speak on "adjudicative matters," meaning "matters that go into the decision of cases which would include deliberation of cases," said SC spokesman Theodore Te. (READ: Manila Times reporter denies info came from Justice De Castro)

The en banc set the following limitations for De Castro's testimony:

Umali, speaking to reporters after the suspension of the hearing, said his staff has been assured that "at the very least," De Castro would be ready to testify on Wednesday, November 29. (READ: Inside SC: Justice De Castro vs CJ Sereno?)

Gadon has listed the following individuals from the judiciary as resource persons in his allegations against Sereno:

De Castro and Tijam's expected appearance before the committee would mean a few adjustments for the lawmakers, if only to make sure the associate justices' time would not be wasted. Umali said that in De Castro's case, they might ask her to speak even on charges they have yet to flesh out, if her testimony is necessary.

Gadon has been criticized by committee members and occasionally, by Umali himself, for seemingly failing to prepare the list of documents and resource persons needed in his complaint. (READ: [OPINION] Gadon crumbles, will House fall with him?–