February 18, 2018, 5:45 am
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Carpio declines invitation to testify against Sereno

SENIOR Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has declined to participate in the hearing on lawyer Larry Gadon’s impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on the ground that he has no personal knowledge of the allegations.

“I have written the committee declining to testify because I have no personal knowledge of the matters the committee mentioned in its reply to me. These are the matters the committee wants to question me,” Carpio said in a statement.

“We got a letter from him (Carpio) informing us about his decision not to testify,” said Rep. Reynaldo Umali (PDP-Laban, Oriental Mindoro), chair the committee House committee on justice.

Umali, however, said he would still raise the matter to the committee at the proper time so it can be discussed.

“As far as I am concerned, my questions to Justice Carpio were already addressed (in the previous hearings attended by other resource persons) but I will still ask my colleagues if they still have questions to him,” he said.

Carpio was invited by the panel to testify on various allegations against Sereno, including the accusation that she delayed the resolution of the urgent request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the transfer of cases involving Maute terrorists to courts outside Mindanao.

Carpio was also invited to shed light on the allegation that Sereno’s alleged unilaterally creation of the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) in the Seventh Judicial Region under Administrative Order No. 175-2012 in 2012.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro earlier accused Sereno of making it appear that the office was just a revival of the Regional Court Administration Office in Region 7 (RCAO 7) which was created by the court en banc, when in fact, she was creating a new office.

“He (Carpio) has no personal knowledge so like what I’ve said, the committee will have to study the matter and decide if there are still questions for him,” Umali said.

Aside from Carpio, the committee has also invited Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta to testify before the justice panel which will resume hearing next week.

So far, three incumbent SC justices have testified against Sereno in the hearing – Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam.

The three testified on accusations that Sereno has a penchant for unilaterally acting on matters involving the Court en banc.

The other justices who are expected to attend the hearings are Mariano del Castillo, Samuel Martires and Andres Reyes Jr.

Umali said Del Castillo may testify on Sereno’s alleged purchase of a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser amounting to P5.1 million.

Retired associate justice Arturo Brion testified on how Sereno made it difficult for then Solicitor General and now SC Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza to be included in the shortlist for SC nominees. – With Ashzel Hachero
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