Protesters outside the Supreme Court building in Baguio City urge five justices deemed to have a conflict of interest to recuse themselves in the quo warranto case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Philstar.com/Kristine Joy Patag, File
Group calls for resignation of 'Biased 5' justices
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - April 17, 2018 - 1:01pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court’s full court session on Tuesday was met with protests asking for five of its members to step down over their refusal to inhibit from the ouster petition against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The Coalition for Justice staged protests at the SC compound in Manila and Baguio to call for the resignation of Associate Justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam.

“If the Biased 5 will not inhibit, we adamantly insist that they resign,” the CFJ said.

The justices are currently in Baguio for its summer session. Last week, in the summer capital, the 14-member high tribunal conducted an oral debate on the petition for quo warranto against Sereno.

READ: Sereno supporters flock to SC ahead of oral arguments on ouster petition

Shortly before the six-hour oral argument started, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio announced that the five justices would not recuse themselves from the case. Sereno’s motion for inhibition was junked due to lack of merit.

The justices’ reasons for refusing to inhibit would be released with the SC ruling on the quo warranto case.

During the oral debates, Sereno locked horns with some of the justices, including De Castro with whom she has traded barbs in the past.

READ: Sereno, De Castro clash at ouster hearing

Supporters of the embattled chief justice held a picket outside the SC Baguio compound during the oral arguments. They were later visited by an unfazed Sereno who vowed that she would continue her fight.

The group Movement Against Tyranny, for its part, also released a statement asking the SC to not take part in President Rodrigo Duterte’s “insidious plot” to oust the chief justice.

They added: “Duterte is hoping to pit the justices against each other, using their personal animosities and ambitions, to get what he wants: absolute control of the judiciary.”

They insisted that allowing a quo warranto case “circumvents the Constitution and undermines the system of checks and balances by making impeachable officials likes Sereno vulnerable to harassment and intimidation by a powerful executive.”

Sereno has openly claimed that the firebrand leader has had a hand in the ouster cases against her. She is facing an impeachment case at the Congress filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon who has ties with Duterte’s allies.

The quo warranto case, that challenges the legality of Sereno's hold over her position, was filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida. The petition also has the same prayer to oust Sereno from the position.

Duterte has denied that he was involved in the ouster petitions against Sereno, but he said that the chief justice's letter to him in August 2016 has angered him. Sereno then said that the judiciary would conduct its own probe into Duterte's claim that some judges were part of the illegal drug trade. The letter was part of Gadon's impeachment complaint.

Both Sereno and Calida were ordered by the high court to file their respective memorandum on the case on April 20. After their submission, the case would be deemed submitted for resolution.

RELATED: Highlights: Oral arguments on Sereno ouster

MARIA LOURDES SERENO QUO WARRANTO PETITION SUPREME COURT TERESITA DE CASTRO
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