‘Evasive’ clerk of court draws ire of lawmakers

MANILA -- Supreme Court (SC) Clerk of Court Felipa Anama on Wednesday drew the ire of lawmakers for being evasive in answering the details on the member-in-charge for the transfer of Maute cases outside Mindanao.

During the continuation of the impeachment hearing against SC Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, several lawmakers prodded Anama to disclose the justice that served as the member-in-charge for Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III's request to move the Maute cases from Iligan City to Taguig City.

Anama, however, refused to reveal the member-in-charge, citing the SC rules on confidentiality.

House justice committee chairman Reynaldo Umali, as well as other members of the panel, argued that since the case had already been resolved there is no need for confidentiality.

What is there to keep confidential if it has already been resolved? he said.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso echoed Umali's sentiment, saying the matter is already "academic."

"Matagal na po nating iniwan 'yung raffle. Dapat pong malaman na ng mamamayan kung anong nangyari sa kasong iyan, Veloso said.

When Umali told her that Sereno herself mentioned that she was the member-in-charge in her verified answer, Anama eventually gave in.

Kung inamin na po ni Chief Justice, opo. Wala na kong magagawa, Anama said.

Umali reprimanded the clerk of court for being uncooperative in the impeachment proceedings.

"You're showing that you are not being cooperative with this committee. Hinihingi ko po sa inyo na tulungan niyo po kami para bumilis po tayo," Umali said.

Anama, for her part, said she "respects the committee."

Sereno's camp, in a statement, said the chief justice did not act upon Justice Secretary Aguirre's request unilaterally.

Since the letter was personally addressed to Sereno, she discussed the matter with the Supreme Court en banc even prior to the matter being raffled.

"Since the Supreme Court En Banc acted on the request, the raffle committee assigned the administrative matter to the Chief Justice consistent with the standard practice of the Clerk of Court," Sereno's lawyers said.

"The administrative matter was part of the raffle proceedings and although it was assigned to the Chief Justice, the assignment was confirmed by the members of the raffle committee composed of three justices of the Supreme Court," they added.

Source: Philippine News Agency