Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Top Philippines court ousts its own chief justice

Top Philippines court ousts its own chief justice

Nine justices - Carpio, Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes, and Alexander Gesmundo - agreed Sereno violated the Constitution for her failure to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) for ten years before she applied for the chief justice post in 2012. Sereno complied with the demand, but abruptly cut her leave short on Wednesday.

The Philippine Supreme Court has voted to remove its top judge, who had clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte over human rights and his deadly war on drugs.

Police say about 1,800 protesters gathered by midmorning to support Sereno outside the court in Manila where anti-riot policemen blocked an access road with trucks and iron railings to maintain order.

The House of Representatives is yet to approve the articles of impeachment which is needed so that the Senate can convene as an impeachment court.

The Constitution provides that there are special class of government officials that can only be removed through impeachment.

Under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, the government or an individual can lodge a quo warranto petition against "a person who usurps, intrudes into, or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise".

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TRT World spoke Ana Santos in Manila.

"It is a sad day for democracy in the Philippines and it is a very sad day for the Supreme Court", the bishop said in an interview with Radio Veritas.

The Philippines has on paper an independent judiciary which is meant to be a check and balance on executive power.

"Accordingly ... Sereno is ousted and excluded therefrom".

Critics said the court's action set a risky precedent and would give the Duterte administration a legal weapon to curb and muzzle dissent.

Pangilinan, who heads the opposition Liberal Party, says "what the majority in the Supreme Court did was a mockery of the constitution". The people must be given time to review this decision.

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The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said that the decision granting the quo warranto petition does not affect the Chief Justice alone.

'The decision is immediately executory without further need of action from the court, ' Te said, adding the vote was 8-6 against Sereno.

April 4, 2018 Sereno asks some of her collegues to inhibit from the case, accusing them of bias for having testified against her in the House impeachment proceedings.

"You can not issue a quo warranto to remove an impeachable official and the system that judges you should not be the one who accuses you". "If it calls for your forced removal, I will do it".

"The Supreme Court is supreme in a lot of things but not in everything".

The historic ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday created a major divide in the Supreme Court that even the spokesman publicly expressed his dissent. "I am putting you on notice that I am now your enemy", he said. "In impeachment matters, the Supreme Court is not supreme, because the Senate is the one and only impeachment court", Pimentel said in a statement he sent to reporters this afternoon.

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