Ousted CJ dares Rody to re­sign

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JANVIC MA­TEO and ROM­INA CABR­ERA

It’s time for Pres­i­dent Duterte to re­sign, ousted chief jus­tice Maria Lour­des Sereno said yes­ter­day as she chal­lenged him to keep his prom­ise to step down if it would be proven that he was be­hind her ouster.

“Gal­ing sa kanyang bibig ang pag-amin na siya ang pasim­ula at mag­pupur­sige sa pag­tang­gal sa

akin. P’wes, Gi­noong Pan­gulo, mag-re­sign ka na (The ad­mis­sion came di­rectly from him – that he started and pushed for my re­moval. Now then, Mr. Pres­i­dent, re­sign now),” Sereno said at a fo­rum or­ga­nized by the In­te­grated Bar of the Philip­pines in Pasig City.

“Alam na­man natin ang sasabi­hin ng Pan­gulo. Baka joke only. Hindi na pana­hon na mag­biro tayo (We know what the Pres­i­dent will say. Maybe, joke only. This is not the time for jokes),” she added.

Mala­cañang re­fused to com­ment on Sereno’s chal­lenge for Duterte to re­sign.

“I do not want to com­ment on that. I think the Pres­i­dent does not want to com­ment on that also,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque told ra­dio DZMM yes­ter­day. “Let us just let her be and al­low her to live a quiet life as a pri­vate cit­i­zen.”

Sereno re­called the state­ment made by Duterte last month when he de­clared her as his en­emy and vowed to sup­port efforts to have her re­moved from the Supreme Court.

“Cal­ida will not file a ma­jor case be­fore the Supreme Court until he has your ap­proval. You started this mess,” she said in Filipino, re­fer­ring to Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Jose Cal­ida who filed the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion that re­sulted in her re­moval.

“You said you will tell the Congress to re­move me. You said you will help Cal­ida. What does that mean?” she added.

Sereno said Duterte’s prob­lem with her ap­par­ently started when she called on the Pres­i­dent to be care­ful in re­leas­ing names of judges al­legedly in­volved in il­le­gal drugs.

“He did not re­spect that. He was an­gry. Are we go­ing to be ruled by the anger of one per­son? If he does not like you, you will be re­moved. If you op­pose him, crit­i­cize him, he will at­tack you,” she noted.

Pre­vi­ously cau­tious in mak­ing her opin­ions pub­lic due to her po­si­tion at the SC, the for­mer chief jus­tice was in fight­ing form yes­ter­day as she crit­i­cized the poli­cies of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion.

She called out Duterte’s boast­ing about Chinese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s as­sur­ance to pro­tect him from ouster moves. She said his deal­ings with China could be grounds for his im­peach­ment.

She also chal­lenged the ad­min­is­tra­tion to clearly state its eco­nomic pol­icy or where it wants to lead the coun­try.

“We are com­pro­mised. There is a lack of moral con­vic­tion among those who are in the high places of gov­ern­ment,” Sereno said.

The for­mer chief mag­is­trate also slammed Duterte’s pro­nounce­ment that he prefers to have a male for the next chief jus­tice.

“He should not bring his per­sonal prob­lems in the of­fice be­cause there is a Con­sti­tu­tion stat­ing that he has to re­spect the equal­ity in rights and sta­tus of both women and men,” she said.

Mar­tial law

In her speech, Sereno said there is no need for an of­fi­cial dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law as the re­al­ity on the ground clearly shows dic­ta­tor­ship is tak­ing root in the coun­try.

“If he does not like dis­sent, let’s give him dis­sent. If he does not like to hear the voice of the peo­ple, let us make him hear the voice of the peo­ple,” she said.

“Those whom peo­ple call strong­men, bully – the only way to fight a bully is to re­sist,” she added.

At the Ate­neo where protest ac­tions against her ouster were held, Sereno de­nounced the “evils” of the ad­min­is­tra­tion and called on the na­tion to stamp them out.

“We de­nounce treach­ery to the na­tion, cow­ardice in the face of foreign on­slaught and in­va­sion, we de­nounce cor­rup­tion, hypocrisy, dou­ble­s­peak, the vul­gar­ity and ha­rass­ment, whether it is for the jeep­ney driv­ers told na ma­matay kayo sa gutom (you die of hunger), women who are at­tacked for be­ing women, threat of rape… we de­nounce them. We move for­ward as a coun­try be­cause we can­not tol­er­ate this evil any­more,” she said.

The for­mer chief jus­tice said Filipinos are now liv­ing in fear, just like dur­ing the mar­tial law era.

“Maar­ing wala tay­ong mga mil­i­tary na nakap­westo sa at­ing kanto at walang mil­i­tary trucks gu­ma­gala sa kalsada, ngu­nit sino ang gu­ma­gala sa kalsada ngayon, mga ma­ma­matay tao na nakamo­tor­siklo. Dati takot na tayo ay madampot, na ngayon ay takot na baka sila ay ma­matay (There may be no more sol­diers at ev­ery cor­ner, no more mil­i­tary trucks in the streets, but who are now roam­ing around? Killers on mo­tor­bikes. Be­fore, we feared be­ing ar­rested but now peo­ple fear get­ting killed),” she said.

She also con­demned the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sub­servience to China, specif­i­cally its lame stand on the Asian power’s mil­i­ta­riza­tion of the West Philip­pine Sea and its seizure of land fea­tures within Philip­pine ter­ri­tory.

Sereno said what the ad­min­is­tra­tion has clearly demon­strated is its readi­ness to dis­re­gard the rule of law to pun­ish or si­lence its crit­ics.

“We shall fight. We shall con­tinue pray­ing for an end to evils pre­vail­ing in our so­ci­ety. To­gether, let’s de­clare enough is enough, we can no longer tol­er­ate evil,” she said in Filipino.

Fo­rum pan­elist for­mer Bayan Muna con­gress­man Neri Col­menares said the ju­di­ciary and the leg­is­la­ture could not be trusted any­more to pro­tect the peo­ple from au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism.

“We think that protest­ing in the streets is now the most im­por­tant arena. It’s dif­fi­cult to win in the courts. It’s dif­fi­cult in Congress, be­cause of the su­per ma­jor­ity. The arena where peo­ple have a sub­stan­tial voice is the streets – it’s where we can ex­press our op­po­si­tion to the au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism of Pres­i­dent Duterte,” Col­menares told The STAR.

Im­peach­able of­fense

Also at the Ate­neo fo­rum, for­mer chief jus­tice Hi­lario Da­vide Jr. said the eight Supreme Court jus­tices who voted to oust Sereno have com­mit­ted an im­peach­able of­fense.

In a speech, Da­vide said the de­ci­sion to grant the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion is a cul­pa­ble vi­o­la­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, one of the grounds for im­peach­ment of top of­fi­cials in the coun­try.

“The de­ci­sion vi­o­lated the con­sti­tu­tional man­date that the chief jus­tice and the as­so­ciate jus­tices can be re­moved only by im­peach­ment,” he said.

“The vi­o­la­tion is cul­pa­ble be­cause they know that im­peach­ment is the only process au­tho­rized by the Con­sti­tu­tion to re­move a chief jus­tice. Quo war­ranto is not,” he added.

Da­vide said the process of quo war­ranto, which ques­tions the el­i­gi­bil­ity of an of­fi­cial to hold a gov­ern­ment po­si­tion, is sim­ply a rem­edy pro­vided in the rules of court crafted by the Supreme Court. “Nei­ther an or­di­nary law nor the rules of court can pro­vide an ad­di­tional ground or process to re­move the chief jus­tice as well as all other im­peach­able of­fi­cials enu­mer­ated in the Con­sti­tu­tion,” said Da­vide.

The Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides that the pres­i­dent, vice pres­i­dent, SC jus­tices and heads of the in­de­pen­dent con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sions may only be re­moved through im­peach­ment.

Da­vide said the re­cent de­ci­sion could re­sult in a del­uge of quo war­ranto pe­ti­tions, ef­fec­tively de­stroy­ing the ju­di­ciary.

“May 11 was the sad­dest day of the Philip­pine ju­di­ciary, es­pe­cially at the Supreme Court and ul­ti­mately, the en­tire na­tion and all Filipinos,” he said, re­fer­ring to the day when the jus­tices voted to oust Sereno.

“The chief jus­tice was de­nied due process. The eight de­stroyed the Court,” he added.

Da­vide said six of the eight who voted in fa­vor of oust­ing Sereno should have in­hib­ited as they had al­ready shown bias by tak­ing part in the com­mit­tee hear­ings at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

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