Lawyer and impeachment complainant Lorenzo “Larry” Gardon may face a perjury charge after Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro denied feeding information to a veteran journalist whose report Gadon used as source of his allegations against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, said Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Umali, the House justice committee chair, told reporters on November 22 in a chance interview that Gadon swore under oath that he used a report by Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas, who got his information from de Castro.
However, de Castro clarified in the afternoon on November 22 that she did not provide Canlas with any information related to the court.
“I have never released to Jomar Canlas any information, report or document regarding the work of the court,” de Castro said in a statement.
Since Gadon made his statement under oath, he is liable for his actions, Umali explained after de Castro released her statement.
“Attorney Gadon may be liable for perjury. If declaration niya ito and this is under oath, so he will have to answer for his actions,” Umali said.
He added that his committee would subpoena Canlas to help explain the contradicting statements of Gadon and de Castro.
“Let’s see his side regarding what really happened. Perhaps, he got boastful in telling Attorney Gadon, so his name is now being quoted. So again, we will look deep into these contradictory statements from de Castro, Gadon and, hopefully, Canlas can clarify this,” Umali said.
But Umali said a perjury complaint against Gadon may not destroy the impeachment complaint against Sereno.
“I do not know up to what extent this will be damaging to that particular allegation, so we’ll see how things roll out in the coming days,” he said.
Gadon released his own statement arguing that he did not commit perjury because “the documents are existing already.”
“‘Yung mga allegations, hindi pwedeng matawag na perjurious yun because even if no justice will testify on those documents, nandun na yung presence ng document e, the documents are existing already,” Gadon said.
“I, uhm, uh … I, uh … I have yet to talk to Jomar Canlas about it. Probably, he doesn’t want to give more information about this,” he added.
In the panel hearing, Gadon claimed that the information he got from Canlas showed that Sereno allegedly tampered with a temporary restraining order related to a case involving the Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens in the Philippines. He added that de Castro confirmed to the veteran journalist that she contested Sereno’s issued TRO in May 2013 and accused Sereno of removing her recommendation to stop having the Senior Citizens party-list disqualified instead of the party-list proclamation.
Sereno’s spokeperson Josa Deinla said that Gadon’s allegations against Sereno is based on double hearsay.
“The admission of Atty. Gadon that he based his information as relayed by a ‘friend’ whom he identified as a certain Jomar Canlas, is clearly a violation of the hearsay rule,” Deinla said.
“Hearsay is evidence of a statement that was made other than by a witness while testifying at the hearing in question and that is being offered to prove the truth of the matter stated,” she added.
On de Castro as the source of court information, Deinla said that it would be a violation of the Court’s internal rules about maintaining confidentiality of its documents and sessions.
“The Supreme Court sessions are executive in character, with only the Members of the Supreme Court present. The Supreme Court deliberations are confidential and shall not be disclosed to outside parties, except if authorized by the Supreme Court,” Deinla explained.
The chief justice’s spokesperson further said that it is up to Gadon to prove his allegations.
“Burden of proof can define the duty placed upon a party to prove or disprove a disputed fact, or it can define which party bears this burden,” Deinla said.
Twitter user @raffymagno tweeted a summary of Sereno’s responses to the allegations thrown at her and urged other Twitter users to retweet it to #StandWithCJ.
Recap to Chief Justice Sereno’s answers to the allegations in the impeachment complaint files against her.
Please RT so that the truth can spread farther than the lies#StandWithCJ. pic.twitter.com/1an0Z9B7cc
— raffy magno (@raffymagno) November 23, 2017
On the allegations about falsified resolutions/TROs and “exorbitant” legal fees. #StandwithCJ pic.twitter.com/tt0FSFyWfS
— raffy magno (@raffymagno) November 23, 2017
Sources: ( gmanetwork.com , inquirer.net , philstar.com )