“Mr. President, if you say that you have no hand in this, please explain why Solicitor General Calida, who reports to you, filed the quo warranto,” she said in Filipino before members and supporters of the Movement Against Tyranny in its Araw ng Kagitingan commemoration yesterday.
Edd Gumban/File
Sereno: Duterte behind bid to oust me
(The Philippine Star) - April 10, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — For embattled Chief Justice-on-leave Maria Lourdes Sereno, the “unseen hand” in efforts to have her ousted is none other than President Duterte  – and she is demanding an explanation.

“Mr. President, if you say that you have no hand in this, please explain why Solicitor General Calida, who reports to you, filed the quo warranto,” she said in Filipino before members and supporters of the Movement Against Tyranny in its Araw ng Kagitingan commemoration yesterday.

“Filipinos are smart. They understand. You do not need to spell out the truth for them,” she pointed out, adding it “can’t be denied that there is an unseen hand behind this.”

The chief magistrate is facing impeachment before the administration-dominated House of Representatives. In a petition filed last month, Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the Supreme Court to nullify Sereno’s appointment over her ineligibility for the top judicial post, saying her appointment was void from the start.

“Is that the way it is, President Duterte? That I should be removed either by quo warranto or impeachment?”

Sereno had rejected calls for her to resign, as she vowed to fight her impeachment in a Senate trial.

Sereno said it is very clear the impeachment proceedings in Congress and the filing of the quo warranto petition have the imprimatur of Duterte.

“The budget for this must be in the hundreds of millions. It could even run up to a billion,” she said.

The SC chief also slammed Calida for initiating the “absurd” petition that reeks of “hypocrisy” of the government’s chief lawyer.

“Surely you must explain this unconstitutional act,” she said, addressing Calida.

“Napakademonyo ng ginagawa nila (what they have done is so evil),” she said. “This is the height of absurdity.”

Sereno expressed confidence she would be able to overcome the quo warranto case and expose the government’s top lawyer to embarrassment.

“It’s funny and shameful for the Solgen to dig into what I declared when I was 30 years old. I’m now 57 going 58. Why not check my high school records too? It’s a shame, he is supposed to be one of the top lawyers in the country,” she said, referring to Calida.

The chief magistrate also questioned the links between lawyer Lorenzo Gadon and Duterte. It was Gadon who filed the impeachment complaint against Sereno before the House committee on justice.

“Think about it. I haven’t seen the complainant, not even his shadow, I don’t know how he looks. But what is clear is President Duterte has already seen him several times,” she said.

Sereno believes Duterte initiated her ouster in August 2016 after she called for due process for members of the judiciary he linked to the illegal drug trade.

The Chief Justice had also spoken against human rights violations in the conduct of the administration’s war on illegal drugs.

She reiterated that the quo warranto case is a desperate attempt to oust her, as her critics know very well that she has strong chances of surviving a Senate impeachment trial.

“We are not destined to slavery but to freedom. What is evil, we denounce; what is good, we affirm,” she declared.

Sereno also called out her five co-magistrates – specifically Associate Justice Teresita de Castro – to work in the best interest of the judiciary and to bear in mind their “constitutional duty to work despite the conditions.”

Sereno recalled De Castro asking her not to accept the Chief Justice nomination in 2012 and later on telling her, “I will never forgive you for accepting the CJ-ship.” The chief magistrate wants De Castro, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam to inhibit from hearing the quo warranto case. – Edu Punay, Helen Flores

MARIA LOURDES SERENO RODRIGO DUTERTE
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