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Lagman: No need for Sereno to appear at House impeach hearing

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Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno “need not accede” to the invitation of House of Representatives committee on justice chairman Rey Umali to appear at next week’s impeachment hearing.

That is the position Albay first-district Rep. Edcel Lagman, who believes Umali is wrong to insist that Sereno should do the cross-examination herself instead of her lawyers.

“The Chief Justice can effectively and legally appear through her counsel on record who could also cross-examine the complainant and his witnesses on her behalf,” Lagman said.

The Magnificent 7 leader said, “Both the Constitution and the House Rules on Impeachment, strengthened by entrenched jurisprudence, accord a respondent in an impeachment case, which is akin to a criminal prosecution, the right to retain a counsel of her choice and the corollary right to have her counsel conduct the cross-examination.”

“The opinion of Umali that the Chief Justice herself must make the cross-examination is an utter derogation of the respondent’s right to counsel, who is not a useless appendage in the proceedings,” he added.