Alvarez to Sereno: Attend impeach hearing, face allegations

MANILA -- Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday said Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should personally appear at the impeachment hearing set Wednesday to answer the allegations against her and confront the witnesses in the proceedings instead of resorting to diversionary tactics.

In a phone interview with House reporters, Alvarez said Sereno should stop diverting attention from the impeachment case against her by bringing up past issues to sidetrack the real arguments.

Alvarez said this in reaction to Sereno's television interview that the impeachment case against her was possibly motivated by personal agenda, noting that she has testified on the terms of contract of the Philippine International Air Terminals, Co. (PIATCO), which involved Alvarez.

"Alam niyo hirap naman sa kanya kung saan-saan niya dinadala yung usapan eh tapos na yung issue sa akin eh. Nanalo na ko sa lahat ng korte, (The problem with her is that she's diverting the issue when in fact the issue with me (regarding PIATCO) is already done. I already won in all courts.)" Alvarez said.

"Harapin niya yung reklamo sa kanya ngayon. (She must face the allegations against her now.) And please, argue on the basis of merits. Hindi yung kung anu-anong mga issues, side issues na wala naming kinalaman dito sa impeachment complaint niya, (It is not about other issues, side issues that have nothing to do with the impeachment complaint against her.) he added.

Alvarez was implicated in alleged wrongdoing for awarding the NAIA 3 build-operate-transfer contract to PIATCO when he was senior assistant general manager of Manila International Airport Administration (MIAA).

A plunder case was filed against Alvarez and other officials by the MIAA-NAIA Association of Service Contractors in 2001 after he was alleged to have gained something from the contract.

In 2002, however, Alvarez, together with other officials, was already cleared by the Ombudsman from the charge of allegedly giving unwarranted benefits to a contractor of NAIA 3 which Sereno continues to raise.

Speaker Alvarez had a lot to do with the result of that bidding... While the testimony I gave in the Sandiganbayan assails that contract, the overall participation that I had touched also on the participation of Speaker Alvarez," Sereno said.

Asked if her testifying against Alvarez could be one of the reasons why he was pushing for her impeachment, Sereno replied: This is a matter that my lawyers are still considering.

Whether it should be raised, and at which point it should be raised, I will have to listen to the lawyers whether that will be brought up.

Alvarez said if Sereno chooses to ignore the summons to appear in the impeachment hearing, he would bar her lawyers from being there.

"I will not allow her lawyers to appear at the committee hearing. They have no business being there. They're not the ones being impeached. If Sereno were there, then they can accompany her. If the principal is not there, what's their business attending the committee hearing if they were not invited," he said.

Source: Philippine News Agency