Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who has been accused of corruption and violation of the Constitution, has hinted of President Rodrigo Duterte's involvement in the plot to impeach her. File

Duterte distances self from Sereno impeach rap
Alexis Romero ( - November 22, 2017 - 2:26pm
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has distanced himself from the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, saying he never spoke to anyone about efforts to unseat her.
“She (Sereno) can ask anybody. I guarantee you I’ll make a guarantee. She can ask if I approached anyone to impeach her except the public when I reacted because of the so many complaints from the justices themselves… but that was it,” the president said in a press conference in Taguig City.
“Ma’am Sereno, I'm sorry to tell you. You can investigate the whole town, commission all journalists who are good at investigative journalism and find out if I talked to anyone about your impeachment,” he added.
Sereno, who has been accused of corruption and violation of the Constitution, has tagged Duterte in the plot to impeach her and warned that such efforts pose a threat to democracy.
Sereno, who became the country’s first female chief justice in 2012, dismissed the accusations against her as “pure fabrication.”
While Duterte denied involvement in the impeachment complaint against Sereno, his spokesman Harry Roque has asked the chief justice to resign to spare the Supreme Court from “further damage.”
Duterte said he does not want to meddle with the complaint but could not help bringing up the allegation that Sereno enjoyed lavish trips using state funds.
He said he does not allow his Cabinet members to travel first class and to avail of luxury rooms.
“Not everyone can become president. If you want, let’s just swap places…You point out if any of my Cabinet members traveled first class. If they do, they’ll find themselves jobless tomorrow,” Duterte said.
“If you travel first class that is flaunting. Who would believe you are using your own money? If you travel like that, will you be able to convince other Filipinos who are in the same plane that you used your own money?” he added.
Sereno has been accused of failing to declare the P37 million professional fee she received as a private lawyer who represented the government in its case against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co, using taxpayers’ money to stay in luxurious hotels and to buy a Land Cruiser for personal use, and delaying action on the petition for the retirement benefits of justices, judges and surviving spouses.

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