Philippine Supreme Court removes Duterte 'enemy' judge

Supreme Court

"Even if the chief justice has failed our expectations, quo warranto, as a process, to oust an impeachable officer and sitting member of the Supreme Court is a legal abomination", Leonen pointed out.

She said she wants to talk to common people, including the youth, about injustice and the urgency of fighting for what is right.

But should an outsider is nominated to the SC's top post and he or she is appointed by the President, there would be no need to nominate and appoint a 15th associate justice of the SC since the membership would be complete with the appointment of a new Chief Justice.

It gave Sereno a deadline of ten days after receiving a copy of its decision to explain why she should not be sanctioned for a number of alleged violations, such as "casting aspersions and ill-motive to the members of the Supreme Court".

The Associate Justice, in her concurring opinion, said Sereno continuously demonstrated her "proclivity to lie, mislead, bend the rules, and exploit the exemptions" during her stint since her application as Supreme Court Associate Justice, over her failure to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) from 2002 to 2006. Crowds of supporters and opponents of Sereno had gathered outside the building before the ruling. In Jardaleza's case, Sereno accused him of calling her a traitor; describing her actions during her nomination as CJ as "not those of a normal person"; and his lingering negative characterization of her four years after she blocked his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Friday's decision came before Congress, controlled by Duterte's allies, returns from its Easter break next week to vote on an impeachment complaint against Sereno. Another senator, JV Ejercito, warned of a possible constitutional crisis if the House of Representatives proceeds to impeach Sereno despite her removal. She says she was ready to defend herself if the impeachment case reached the Senate for trial.

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"Sereno is found disqualified from and hereby adjudged guilty of unlawfully holding and exercising the office of the chief justice", court spokesman Theodore Te told reporters.

The ousted top judge of the Philippines will appeal against the decision to sack her, after she battled with President Rodrigo Duterte over his deadly drug war, her spokesperson said on Saturday.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro denied there was bad blood involved in voting to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Hundreds of protesters denouncing Sereno's ouster rallied outside the court.

Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that the President Duterte had no hand for what happened to former Chief Justice Sereno.

Duterte and Sereno first clashed in 2016 when she criticised his order urging judges whom he linked to the illegal drugs trade to turn themselves in as part of his crackdown.

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