ORIENTAL Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, House committee on justice chairman, said Sunday it was likely Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo would come forward to testify in the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in January next year.
“There is another justice who [has] conveyed his desire to testify in the impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice,” he said.
“I have no personal knowledge about his intention to testify, but his willingness to face us was relayed to my committee secretariat,” he added.
In a related development, Umali said the impeachment proceedings could be cut short to accommodate the ratification of the P3.767-trillion General Appropriations Bill for 2018, Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion and extension of martial law in Mindanao after the emergency ends by yearend.
He said the committee was considering ending the impachment hearings today and resume in 2018.
Del Castillo may testify in the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon involving Sereno’s supposed betrayal of public trust for the purchase of a brand-new and latest model of a Toyota Land Cruiser worth P5.1 million.
Gadon accused Sereno of the procurement of an overpriced luxury vehicle at P5.1 million against its original cost of P4.5 million and its P4-million bullet-proofing.
Should Del Castillo surface, the committee can only accommodate him in January 2018, Umali said.
The committee on justice is set to hear the testimonies of three other associate justices–Noel Tijam, Francis Jardeleza and Teresita Leonardo-de Castro–and retired associate justice Arturo Brion are set to testify today.
“Barring unforeseen circumstances, we look forward hearing their testimonies. We hope that necessary clearances are given to them by the Supreme Court to face and testify before my panel,” Umali said.
Another Supreme Court associate justice–Samuel Martires–would not be spared to shed light into the accusations against Sereno.
According to Umali, the committee is set to discuss today the allegations that Sereno issued a resolution inconsistent with the decision of the court en banc by altering a temporary restraining order and manipulating judicial appointments.