Marcoleta questions SC clerk of court's 'loyalty' in impeachment hearing

MANILA, Philippines – SAGIP Representative Rodante Marcoleta on Wednesday, December 6, questioned a Supreme Court (SC) employee's supposed "loyalty" to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as it tackled an impeachment complaint against the chief magistrate. 

Marcoleta was referring to SC Clerk of Court Felipa Anama, who was summoned to stand as witness to one of the issues being raised against Sereno in lawyer Larry Gadon's complaint. 

During his turn to ask questions, Marcoleta said Anama appeared to be protecting Sereno  out of "loyalty" because the Chief Justice had extended Anama's term as Clerk of Court. Anama was appointed Clerk of Court of the SC en banc on July 15, 2015.  

"Nagtatrabaho lang tayo. I beg to disagree. Nagtatrabaho lang tayo nang maayos (I'm just doing my job. I beg to disagree. I'm just going my job properly)," Anama said.

When Marcoleta insisted that she was loyal to Sereno because the extension granted to her, the SC employee said: "I’m loyal to the institution, your honor. I’ve been working for the government for 44 years."

To this, the lawmaker retorted, "If you’re saying that you’re loyal to the institution, show it."

Marcoleta also observed that Anama seemed "so evasive" in responding to the panel member's queries.

"We are about to think that you are so evasive in answering questions," quipped Marcoleta. 

Earlier in the hearing, lawmakers expressed frustration after Anama refused to answer their questions directly, citing the SC's rules.

She eventually relented after an hour-long suspension, naming Sereno as the member-in-charge when Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III requested to move the cases against the Maute Group from Iligan City to Taguig City. This was after Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, panel chair, noted that Sereno mentioned this in her verified answer submitted to the panel.

The committee is meeting to determine if there is probable cause in the Gadon complaint. It aims to finish deliberations by January 2018, during which the committee will vote on whether it will reject the complaint or recommend Sereno's impeachment. 

The House plenary will then vote on this committee decision. If impeached by the House, the complaint will be brought to the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court. – Rappler.com