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
Sereno to lead 'people's movement' to hold Duterte accountable
Audrey Morallo ( - June 19, 2018 - 4:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — Hours after the Supreme Court rejected with finality her motion for reconsideration on its decision to oust her as chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno said that she was ready to lead a "people's movement" that would hold the government accountable.

In a scathing speech before supporters at a forum at the University of the Philippines, Sereno slammed President Rodrigo Duterte as a "blasphemous, self-styled dictator" who weakened the country's democractic institutions.

Sereno said that despite losing her position as the country's top magistrate, she would continue to defend laws and institutions and uphold the dignity of Filipinos.

"On the birth anniversary of Gat Jose Rizal, the unity we have forged these last months will be the foundation of genuine people's movement that will hold government accountable for its actions and help enlighten Filipinos regarding important national issues the first of which is charter change," Sereno said to the applause of her supporters.

If her removal affected, this did not show on Sereno's face as she delivered a speech typically heard in campaign rallies and flavored with strong political undertones, which could further fuel speculations that she will seek an elective post in 2019.

Sereno was pointed in terms of her attacks on the president and accused him of unleashing viciousness on many groups such as the poor, women, the religious and indigenous people.

"We're in no mood of jokes, for flipflopping, for lies, for propaganda, for improvisational governance," she said.

"We are fighting the viciousness the president has unleashed against the poor, the women, the religious, the Lumads, the workers whom he has directly or indirectly branded as his enemies."

Before her speech, the Supreme Court, voting 8-6, upheld its earlier decision to grant the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida that questioned her legal hold on her office.

Aside from stripping Sereno of her chief justice post, the decision also starts the 90-day process to look for her replacement.

"We will continue to live the law and fight for our democracy," she said hours after the decision. "We are rising. We the people."

Sereno said that the weakening of the country's democractic institutions started with Duterte as he attacked different offices and their heads.

"The responsibility for the weaknening of rule of law is his (Duterte's)," she said.

Sereno warned Duterte that he would have his own day of reckoning as the truth would eventually come out.

She also stressed that she would continue opposing some of Duterte's anti-people's policies such as his position on the South China Sea, his war on drugs that have killed thousands o fmostly urban poor Filipinos and attempts to change the Constitution.

Duterte in April declared himself to be an enemy of Sereno's following months of denial that he was behind moves to remove her through impeachment and through the quo warranto petition.

Sereno initially earned the ire of Duterte after she became critical of the lack of due process in the president's flagship domestic program, the crackdown on illegal drugs.

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