Sereno out of Supreme Court even as associate justice

Ismael LynchMay 12, 2018

One opposition party said the ousting of Sereno removed a shield against abuse of power in government and left behind a "puppet Supreme Court". The move comes after President Rodrigo Duterte called her an "enemy" for confronting his administration.

She has been accused of failing to pay about two million pesos (£29,500) in taxes as well as falsifying and tampering with court resolutions. "Let us respect its decision granting the quo warranto petition as the proper remedy and the quo warranto petition ruling against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno".

Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno speaks before a crowd supporting her on May 11, 2018.

Sereno faced probing colleagues in a historic first for the Philippine judiciary that a Chief Justice stands at a hearing by her fellow justices.

Eight justices voted to oust Sereno, while six others voted to reject the quo warranto petition seeking her removal. Sereno denies the allegation and refused to participate in the vote.

"Wherefore, the petition for quo warranto is granted". Anti-Sereno protesters also gathered outside the building.

Legal experts pointed out that under the Constitution, all impeachable officials like the president, vice president and chief justice as well as heads of constitutional offices like the Commission on Elections, Office of the Ombudsman and Commission on Audit are to be dismissed only after undergoing an impeachment trial with the Senate sitting as the impeachment court.

In the case of Sereno, this was when her appointment was made and/or the time she assumed office as Supreme Court Chief Justice, said Sombiro.

"Respondent Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno is ordered to show cause within ten days from receipt hereof why she should not be sanctioned for violating the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Judicial Conduct for transgressing the sub judice rule and for casting aspersions and ill motives to the members of the Supreme Court", the SC added.

TRT World spoke Ana Santos in Manila. "The Supreme Court, which is supposed to be the cradle of our fragile Constitution, is the same body that killed it", Trillanes said in a statement.

The Philippines has on paper an independent judiciary which is meant to be a check and balance on executive power.

The vote "ushers in another era of another dictatorship as the Court. puts an end to the last gasps of a dying constitutional democracy", Senator Leila de Lima, a jailed Duterte critic, wrote in a statement. "This decision is immediately executory without need of further action from the Court".

On the SALNs issue, 9 justices said Sereno violated the Constitution with her incomplete submissions: Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, associate justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr, and Alexander Gesmundo.

Sereno, the country's first female chief justice, is one of several high-profile critics who have found themselves targeted after speaking out against the president.

"The Supreme Court is the highest interpreter of the Constitution and the laws".

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