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Lagman: Threat to arrest Sereno ‘empty and useless’

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Albay first-district Rep. Edcel Lagman branded as “empty and useless” the threat of the House of Representatives committee on justice chairman Rey Umali to arrest Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno if she fails to appear at the impeachment hearing if or when issued a subpoena.

“Verily, the projected issuance of a warrant of arrest against the Chief Justice has no legal anchorage. It is an empty and useless threat bordering on coercion and arbitrariness,” the Magnificent 7 lawmaker said.

Lagman said Sereno, as respondent in the impeachment proceeding, enjoys the following inherent and constitutional rights:

1. To appear through counsel and have her lawyers cross-examine on her behalf the complainant and adverse witnesses (This was unwarrantedly denied by the Committee on Justice); and

2. Not to personally appear at all. It is for the complainant Gadon to prove the allegations in his complaint, and not for the respondent Chief Justice to disprove the same considering that Gadon has not even proved anything and his chargers are utterly unfounded and based on hearsay.

“Moreover, the accusations have been sufficiently traversed in the Chief Justice’s answer and other pleadings. Consequently, her personal appearance will not serve any legal purpose,” Lagman said.