“Truth has a way of coming out eventually. And he is making a mistake if he thinks the Filipino is so easily fooled,” Sereno said.
Sereno: ‘Duterte weakening rule of law'
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — By sowing division and fomenting intrigue as he had reportedly admitted doing, President Duterte is weakening the rule of law, ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said yesterday as she vowed to continue to fight the administration’s “viciousness.”

“The responsibility for the weakening of the rule of law is his. He has admitted that sowing intrigue and planting evidence have been part of his practice,” Sereno said in a speech at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

“Truth has a way of coming out eventually. And he is making a mistake if he thinks the Filipino is so easily fooled,” Sereno said.

She accused the President of instigating her removal from office and of unceasingly attacking other officials and institutions critical of his policies.

“To deflect attention from his guilt, he constantly proclaims that he will resign if proof is shown of his participation in each new debacle for the rule of law. And yet, when reminded of his public pronouncements and the conformable acts of his supporters, he and his people retort: is that proof?” Sereno added.

She stressed she does not have to be the chief justice to fight the administration’s abuses and anti-Filipino initiatives.

She said the President should be made accountable for his acquiescence to China over the West Philippine Sea issue, thousands of extrajudicial killings in his so-called war on drugs and his effort to have the Constitution changed.

“We are fighting against 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,” she said.

Sereno also said she is wondering if Duterte is really sincere in his anti-corruption campaign in government, considering his reappointment to new positions of some of the officials he had fired, reportedly for anomalies.

“Mr. President, true justice requires accountability. Do you even intend to file charges against those officials? From what we are seeing, they are just recycled to other posts,” she said.

She also assailed Duterte’s supporters for condoning the way he has been running the country.

“It is blind idolatry to a President when people would have us overlook acts of injustice, unrighteousness and viciousness. It would have us forget that all officials, even the President himself, are subject to the Constitution, so that no human idol can enslave them,” she pointed out.

Furthermore, Sereno accused Duterte’s allies at the House of Representatives of holding hostage the budget of the judiciary to ensure judiciary workers’ cooperation in her removal.

Sereno said Supreme Court (SC) spokesman Theodore Te had told her about Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas’ revealing to Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta the House’s suspension of deliberations on the budget of the judiciary. The condition for the lifting of the suspension, she said, was reportedly the release of relevant documents to Lorenzo Gadon, the lawyer who filed the impeachment complaint against Sereno.

“The message was clear – the House leadership was going to hold hostage the judiciary’s budget unless the Supreme Court cooperated fully with its plan to remove me,” she said.

Her lawyer Jojo Lacanilao said they were “not surprised” by the SC’s upholding its earlier decision to oust her through quo warranto.

“We were not surprised by the final result of the SC decision but we remain convinced that the decision is unjust and will be questioned by the people for a long time to come,” Lacanilao said in a text message.

‘Dark moment’

Vice President Leni Robredo described the SC’s ouster of Sereno a “dark moment” in the country’s history.

“Today, eight members of the highest court in the land cemented into jurisprudence a ruling widely decried – within and outside the legal profession – as unjust, both in its substance as well as the manner in which it was reached,” Robredo said in a statement.

“Many of us will, without doubt, feel rage or grief – or perhaps a mixture of both – at the finality of this thrust into the heart of our Constitutional system. 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,” she said.

“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,” the Vice President said.

Robredo called on Filipinos to remain vigilant against other “impending assaults” on the Constitution.

“But in our rage and grief, we cannot give in to despair, for this is but one of the many battles that we must fight for our democracy and for the people it is intended to serve,” she said.

“Our vigilance must now extend to other impending assaults on our Constitution and laws, as well as the freedoms they were enacted to protect. Whether these involve uncontested encroachments against our sovereignty, the unchecked plunder of public coffers, the calculated stifling of the voice of the sovereign people or the brazen taking of lives and livelihood, we must draw the line and do our utmost to defend it,” she said. 

Rep. Tom Villarin of party-list Akbayan vowed to file impeachment complaints against the eight SC justices who voted to remove Sereno.

“We will now proceed to filing the impeachment complaints and hopefully we’ll have it filed as soon as we finish compiling pertinent facts relevant to the individual charges against each of the eight justices,” he said.

“It was a done deal sealed by Malacañang which now exercises omnipotent powers over the Supreme Court through the omnipresent quo warranto petition it can file against any SC justice and other impeachable officials,” Villarin said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said he was “not surprised” by the ruling. – With Delon Porcalla, Helen Flores

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