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Opposition slams SC’s final decision to oust Sereno

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Opposition slams SCâs final decision to oust Sereno
Former Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno practices reading her speech before an event in metropolitan Manila, Phillipines on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. The Philippine Supreme Court has upheld the expulsion of its chief justice, the authoritarian president's highest-ranking critic, in a final ruling that critics warned is unconstitutional and threatens judicial independence and the country's fragile democracy.
AP / Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the opposition denounced the final ruling of the Supreme Court affirming its decision to remove Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice Tuesday.

In a statement, Vice President Leni Robredo called the high court’s decision “unjust” both in the substance and the manner in which it was reached.  

“Many will say that justice is well and truly dead, with the Constitution nonchalantly cast aside by those who should have been its foremost guardians. And that rage, and that grief, are warranted, for this is indeed a dark moment for our republic and all of us who aspire for the rule of law,” Robredo said.

In a full court session, the SC rejected Sereno’s motion for reconsideration to reverse its ruling on Solicitor General Jose Calida’s petition for quo warranto for lack of merit with the original 8-6 vote.

Sereno’s appointment as the country’s top judge was nullified by her colleagues last May 11.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, for his part, said that President Rodrigo Duterte once again “succeeded in destroying another bulwark of our fragile democracy, the Supreme Court.”

“Now, only half of the Senate stands in his way from completely installing his ruthless and corrupt authoritarian regime,” the opposition senator said.

Akbayan spokesperson Gio Tingson also slammed the decision, saying the SC “missed the chance to correct historical wrong.”

“The majority of the justices inflicted damage to the Supreme Court as a democratic institution when it wrongfully removed the Chief Justice favoring the petition of the Executive,” Tingson said.

Tingson said Sereno’s ouster” left a festering wound” on the SC’s credibility, and that they missed the chance to remedy it by dismissing her appeal.

“With the high court held by the neck, President Rodrigo Duterte, along with the Marcoses and China, could have the final say in all of these. We lose our democracy. We lose our sovereignty. We lose our country. We cannot allow this to happen," Tingson said.

READIt's final: SC says Sereno no longer chief justice

Impeachment, not ouster

The appropriate process to remove Sereno from office was through an impeachment, not through a quo warranto, Sen. Joel Villanueva maintained.

“From the very beginning, I have stressed my position that the appropriate process to discuss the removal of CJ Sereno is through an impeachment process. Clearly, according to the Constitution, the Senate has the sole responsibility in exacting accountability to judicial appointees or impeachable officers,” he said.

Section 2, Article XI of the Constitution states that “the President, the Vice President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment.”

READAffirmation of Sereno’s ouster shows pettiness of Supreme Court — opposition group

‘Respect SC’s decision’

Malacañang urged the public to respect the ruling of the high tribunal.

“Like it or hate it, we have to succumb to the decision of the Supreme Court. That's now final and executory decision. Tapos na ang pagiging chief justice ni Meilou Sereno,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez echoed the sentiments of the Palace, citing the Constitution mandates the SC to be the final arbiter of legal and constitutional questions.

“Rather than interfere with the affairs of the judiciary, we are duty-bound to respect its decision,” Sen. JV Ejercito also said.

He added: “While I strongly maintain my view that Congress has the exclusive constitutional duty to impeach and try impeachable officials, I also believe in the rule of law.” — Ali Ian Marcelino Biong

MARIA LOURDES SERENO

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