Robredo: Public disagreements among SC justices 'wounded' its integrity
Tension arose between Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Teresita de Castro during the 30th anniversary of the Philippine Women Judges Association.
Photo from Supreme Court PIO
Robredo: Public disagreements among SC justices 'wounded' its integrity
Audrey Morallo ( - March 9, 2018 - 4:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — The public disagreements among justices of the Supreme Court “wounded” the tribunal’s integrity, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Friday, as she stressed that any attempt to remove the country’s embattled chief justice outside impeachment would “circumvent” the law.

The Philippine vice president said that she was “saddened” by the events in the Supreme Court which had affected its integrity and “shaken” the public’s trust in it.

Robredo, who belongs to the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party, stressed that strong institutions insulated from political interference were important in a democracy, alluding to accusations by impeachment critics that the case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was politically motivated.

Sereno earned the ire of Philippine President Rorigo Duterte last year after she issued a critical statement following the chief executive’s allegation that some judges were involved in the trade of illegal drugs.

An impeachment case, filed by Lorenzo Gadon who has close ties to the president’s allies, wants the chief justice removed based on 27 acts that the lawyer said were sufficient to have her impeached.

Aside from an impeachment complaint, Sereno is also facing a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor Jose Calida before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of her appointment.

The vice president said that the public spat among members of the 15-member court were also affecting the public’s faith in the judiciary, stressing that an immediate resolution of the issues would come a long way in restoring public trust in the court.

“What we want is for it (institution) to get back on its feet and the issues it faces to be resolved,” Robredo said in Filipino in an interview at the University of the Philippines campus in Iloilo City.

This disagreement spilled into the public once more Thursday after Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro censured Sereno after she discussed her impeachment case in her speech before women judges.

Just more than a week ago, Sereno went on an indefinite leave following a testy meeting with 13 of her colleagues, some of whom testified against her in the House panel impeachment hearing.

Robredo also stressed the need for everyone to allow the impeachment process to unfold, saying that the rule of law and strong institutions are part of the essence of democracy.

Robredo, a lawyer, said that the chief justice, and all other impeachable officers in government, could only be removed through an impeachment.

She said that all attempts to remove impeachable officers, including Calida’s quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court, were meant to “circumvent” impeachment proceedings.

“There are attempts to circumvent the proceedings. The solicitor general himself filed a quo warranto case to hasten the removal of the chief justice,” she said, adding that the High Court itself had declared this illegal.

She also called on the public to trust the Senate which she hoped would give the chief justice an opportunity to defend herself and prove her innocence.

“Let’s not politicize (the impeachment) because if we politicize it, this will be detrimental to the institution,” she said.

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