MANILA -- Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Teresita De Castro on Wednesday said she has never let her emotions affect her work in her 20 years of serving in the Philippine judiciary.
This was De Castro's response when a lawmaker hinted that she could be biased in testifying against the chief magistrate before the House justice committee's hearing on Sereno's impeachment.
Siquijor Rep. Ramon Rocamora asked De Castro what she felt about the appointment of Sereno as Chief Justice when they were both vying for the post.
The question drew the ire of several congressmen as Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas stepped in and called for respect toward De Castro, who was making an "unprecedented appearance" before the House panel as a member of the Supreme Court.
"We have here an unprecedented appearance of Justice of the Supreme Court. I enjoin and appeal to everybody to give her the respect owing to the office," FariAas said, noting that Rocamora's question was irrelevant.
De Castro, however, opted to answer the question, saying that she was never overtaken by her feelings while working as a justice. She further said that she could not do anything with Sereno's appointment.
"Matagal na po akong justice, 20 taon na po. Wala pong karapatan ang isang tao na maging justice kung affected ng emotions. Yan ho ang isang bagay na hindi ko pinaiiral sa akin kasi ho kung ganyan ako puro emosyon at puro feelings, dapat ho umalis ako sa husgado," she said.
"Kaya ho itong pag-appoint kay Chief Justice Sereno, ano pong magagawa ko? The President (Benigno Aquino III) appointed her. She was nominated by the JBC. What can I do?" she added.
De Castro said lawmakers should instead focus on her testimony and documentary evidence rather than dwelling on their supposed rivalry.
"Kaya nga ho, ready ako. Nandito lahat ng mga dokyumento para ipakita at ipaliwanag (kung) bakit ko ginawa ang mga ginawa ko (That's why I'm ready. I have the documents with me to show and explain why I did those things)," she added.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, justice panel chair, reminded lawmakers to avoid asking questions that divert the real issue in the impeachment proceeding against Sereno.
"The real issue in this impeachment proceeding is the fitness of the chief justice to continue holding public office. If we can just focus on the issue and not divert the issue anywhere ay may mas ma-accomplish pa tayo," Umali said.
De Castro testified on the allegation that Sereno purportedly falsified an SC document on the reopening of a Cebu-based Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) without the en banc's approval.
Source: Philippine News Agency