December 12, 2017, 8:59 am
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Grilling by lawmakers

WHEN an official like Supreme Court clerk of court Felipa Anama or even a private person such as newspaper reporter Jomar Canlas attends the impeachment hearing at the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, he or she should be prepared to be insulted or humiliated.

The Committee which is headed by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali is conducting marathon hearings to determine if they will recommend to the plenary the soon-to-be-finalized articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno which would be passed and then transmitted to the Senate for formal trial.

Because these public hearings are televised and covered by radio stations nationwide, even preempting the early evening news, they become a platform for unknown and unheard-of solons to reach the media and thus, the masses.

Many of these congressmen resort to browbeating and grandstanding at the expense of their resource persons.

When Anama said she attended the hearing to submit certified copies of documents the committee had requested, she was bluntly told that she had to also answer questions relevant to the allegations.

When the clerk of court argued that her name was not mentioned in the high court’s Nov. 28 resolution that allowed justices and officials to testify in the impeachment proceedings, Ms. Anama was cut short by Umali who said, “Wag tayong maging pilosopo dito (Let’s not be argumentative here).

The exchange occurred because one of the complaints by Atty. Lorenzo Gadon against Sereno was that the Chief Justice unduly delayed the transfer of cases involving the Maute band of terrorists from courts in Marawi to courts in Metro Manila.

Umali and the congressmen have complained that Anama was evasive and uncooperative, and that they are doing their constitutional duty to process the impeachment complaint.

Might we ask, at this point, why officials who were impeached by the House before--President Joseph Estrada and Chief Justice Renato Corona--were not invited to appear before the Committee on Justice. The House of Representatives then just voted to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, following a determination by the committee that these were compliant in form and substance.

Now the Umali committee had established that the Gadon complaint was okay in form and substance, yet they continue to hold the public hearings. Why so? To go on a fishing expedition for more evidence, and to relish the media attention given to them
thru these hearings?

If they have to go to trial in the Senate, so be it, let the Chief Justice have her day in court. But please no more of the media hype and grandstanding to shore up the lawmakers’ political careers.
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