No backing down in impeachment fight for Sereno

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
No backing down in impeachment fight for Sereno
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno prays during a press conference in Manila on March 12, 2018. The Supreme Court chief justice vowed to fight "bullying" and save judicial independence as President Rodrigo Duterte's congressional allies launched an impeachment process March 8 to remove her from office.
Noel Celis / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Amid fresh calls for her to resign, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno insisted that she would fight the impeachment case against her to the end, saying that she is doing so to assert the supremacy of the Constitution over personalities in the Philippines. 

"Allow me to explain the implications of a resignation. If I resign, it means I am not standing up for  Rule of Law—that anyone accused has a right to air his or her own side and defend one's self," the chief justice said in a mix of Filipino and English at a media briefing on Monday at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Sereno added that if she gives in to calls for her resignation, then what is happening to her might happen to other officials.
On Monday, Supreme Court Employees Association President Erwin Ocson delivered a statement during the flag-raising ceremony urging the chief magistrate to vacate her position—adding to the mounting calls for her to resign.
Sereno addressed employees and justices of the judiciary calling for her resignation saying that it is saddening that they have "succumbed to pressures to enter the political fray." However, the chief justice highlighted that some were able to resist the pressure.
"[It] is most encouraging that the two other major judges’ organizations and several major employees’ organizations have resisted the pressure to join the call for my resignation. It is also a source of hope that many individual judges, more than the number who supported the PJA statement, have refused to be used as pawns and have instead issued calls to maintain the dignity and independence of the Judiciary."
The chief magistrate repeated her request to critics to let her have her day in the Senate, where she expressed hopes of a fair trial as opposed to the House of Representatives.
"It is only at the Senate, and not with resignation, that there will be a chance to be heard," Sereno said.

Sereno said she had asked the House to allow her to defend herself against the accusations of Lorenzo Gadon through her lawyers, but instead, she lamented that her character and name was attacked.

When the House junked Sereno's motion to allow her lawyers to represent her during the probable cause hearings, she said that she would not appear before a "biased panel." 
Her camp insisted that Sereno would personally face the accusations against her if and when the charges against her are elevated to the Senate.
Last week, the House justice panel wrapped up its hearings on the determination of the probable cause in Gadon's complaint.
Voting 38-2, the panel headed by Rep. Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro) said that there is probable cause to impeach Sereno. On March 14, a committee will draft its report on the impeachment that will be forwarded to the plenary for voting.
There was no deliberations on the 27 "impeachable acts" cited by Gadon and where among the grounds of impeachment they fall into before the voting was made.
The chief justice has been on leave since March 1. She said that she opted to step aside while she prepares for the looming Senate trial. 
Thirteen justices of the SC, however, said that they reached a "consensus" that Sereno should take an indefinite leave.

Related video:

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with