Duterte government asks Supreme Court to expel chief justice

SunStar File

SunStar File

A report to the Judicial Bar Council mistakenly reported Sereno has complete requirements, and that misled the council into including her in the final list of candidates for chief justice, the petition said.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said the impeachment process might be moving at the House of Representatives, but the intention was not to bring the case to a Senate impeachment trial, but to force Sereno to resign.

The House is controlled by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose policies Sereno has publicly opposed. "This is not the end of it all and the burden of proving their case is on the House, to actually prove that the Chief Justice should be removed from the office". I think there are two petitions now pending in court.

"I must fight to have my day at the Senate impeachment court".

Meanwhile, the House is preparing for the impeachment trial in the Senate.

"Sila ang nagsimula, bakit ayaw nilang tapusin (They started it, why don't they want to finish it)?"

"This fight is a fight for judicial independence, for the right of every member of the Court to confront her accuser face to face in a trial type proceeding, where all allegations can be challenged, and all lies can be unmasked", Sereno said.

Sereno would then become only the second chief justice to be impeached, after Renato Corona in 2012, who was removed on similar charges of corruption.

Some 38 congressmen agreed that there is probable cause to have Sereno subjected to an impeachment trial, even as Quezon City Representative Kit Belmonte and Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao voted against the existence of probable cause.

Duterte's critics believe the impeachment move is motivated by the administration being uncomfortable with the fact she is due to hold the Supreme Court's top post until 2030, when she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Sereno had questioned the president's drug war, which has left over 4,000 dead so far, after he brandished an unverified list that supposedly contained names of government officials, mayors, soldiers, policemen and judges allegedly involved in the drug trade.

Global rights groups and local critics have accused Duterte of drifting toward authoritarianism after declaring martial law in the south.

The complaint will be submitted to the plenary later this month for voting before congress goes on recess on March 22.

"The power is now in our hands", committee chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali said shortly before the televised voting.

Sereno could only look at her nemesis.

Maria Lourdes Sereno, the first woman to head the 15-member Supreme Court, stands accused of concealing her wealth by not filing statements of her assets, liabilities and net worth for several years before she was appointed.

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