A complainant who has no personal knowledge of his complaint.
This is the crux of the latest piece by lawyer and former Dean of the Ateneo School of Government Tony La Viña where he slammed Atty. Larry Gadon, the complainant in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, for committing perjury.
On November 22, 2017, the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives conducted its first hearing on the said impeachment complaint. As it went on, the hearing revealed that Gadon has no actual and personal knowledge of the supposed acts that he attributed to the Chief Justice.
“This was repeatedly pointed out by some members of the committee when it was disclosed by Gadon himself that he acquired his information from other people. This is hearsay evidence and therefore inadmissible,” La Viña said in his Article featured by Rappler titled “Gadon crumbles, will the House fall with him.”
As correctly pointed out by the former dean, this is an act of perjury on the part of Gadon, a criminal offense under the Revised Penal Code.
As a requirement in filing a complaint, Gadon attested under oath that the contents and allegations thereat are based on his personal knowledge. This is a basic and legal requirement in all complaints and other initiatory pleadings filed in court and quasi-judicial bodies. Gadon, a lawyer by profession, should know this rule.
However, in admitting that he has no actual and personal knowledge to most, if not all, of the allegations in his impeachment complaint, he contradicted his own verification and, in the process, committed the crime of perjury.
“This, despite Gadon’s statement in the verification, that he has personal knowledge of the acts complained of. But then again how could Atty Gadon substantiate his allegations if he has no personal knowledge of the supposed illegal and impeachable acts by the respondent,” La Viña wrote.
During the hearing, Dinagat Islands Represenative Kaka Bag-ao sarcastically suggested that Gadon should not be the complainant in the case but some other personalities whom the lawyer kept on mentioning as the ones who can substantiate his averments.
“Nalilito ako kung sino talaga ang complainant dito, kasi hindi mo naman napapaliwanag dahil turo ka nang turo ng ibang tao. At si Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro pa ang tinuturo mo, medyo nakakalito lang,” Bag-ao berated Gadon.
Both La Viña and Bag-ao cited the Gadon’s allegation that Sereno falsified resolutions and temporary restraining orders (TROs) by the Supreme Court. When Gadon was asked if he can substantiate this claim against the Chief Justice, Gadon admitted that he cannot do so and began mentioning the names of Associate Justice Teresita de Castro or journalist Jomar Canlas who supposedly got his information from De Castro.
Unfortunately for Gadon, his ill-advised move immediately exploded in his face as De Castro immediately issued a press release emphatically denying that she passed information to Canlas or anyone regarding the internal proceedings of the high court.
According to La Viña, with the undeniable lack of basis of the charges against Sereno, it will be an abuse of power on the part of the House of Representatives to bring the case to the Senate for hearing.
“The chief complainant has showed his contempt for the House of Representatives and the country by filing a perjurious complaint. There is time still for our representatives to do the right thing. Otherwise, as Gadon crumbles, the House falls,” La Viña concluded.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), in a strongly-worded editorial, likened Gadon to US president Donald Trump.
“Whoever wrote the script or ordered the impeachment drama attacking Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno must be wishing for a different lead actor, because lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon is the Donald Trump of impeachment complainants: excruciatingly stupid, and unaware of it,” PDI said.
Related Article: The Tale Of Two Impeachment Complaints: Duterte Versus Sereno