Duterte demands ouster of embattled chief justice


"I'm putting you on notice that I'm your enemy and have to be out of the Supreme Court", a seething Duterte told Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in a press conference he held at the worldwide airport in his hometown of Davao City in Mindanao before flying to China to attend an global conference.

From the House, the complaint will be forwarded to the Senate which will constitute itself into an impeachment court to try Sereno who replaced as chief justice the late Renato Corona who was ousted in May 2017 for culpable violation of the Constitution and for amassing unexplained wealth.

Tomasito Villarin, an opposition politician, said Duterte's call on parliamentarians to sack Sereno "clearly manifests his totalitarian nature and abhorrence to democratic values", according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Sereno doubted Duterte's statement that he had no hand in the filing of the petition filed by Calida before the SC.

Dozens of her supporters, holding streamers and denouncing some of the judges, held a protest outside the court.

However, she said that if the en banc does not act and decide on her plea, Sereno's camp would not believe that the requirement of impartiality is served.

Throughout her interpellation, de Castro brought up several issues on Sereno's SALNs, which caused more arguments between the two.

Sereno has until now refrained from blaming Duterte but directly questioned his intentions in a speech on Monday.

Sereno's legal counsel, lawyer Alex Poblador, made this point during the oral arguments held before the SC Tuesday (April 10) as he appealed the dismissal of the quo warranto petition filed against her by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Within a few hours a furious Duterte lashed out at Sereno and indicated he was ready to use his influence over the legislature to get rid of her.

"I'm putting you (Sereno) on notice that I am now your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court", Duterte told reporters before flying to China for an economic forum. I will see to it.

Otherwise, the lawyer pointed out "what was designed as a procedure to remove impeachable officers that would be used sparingly only by Congress, because it is so hard and cumbersome to undertake, can now be undertaken before this Court, the Court of Appeals or even the Regional Trial Court, by the Solicitor General at any time".

"An impeachable officer like the Chief Justice can not be removed except by impeachment, which means that she can not be removed by any other method", he stressed.

If passed, an impeachment trial will be conducted in the upper house, with the 22 sitting Senators as judges.

Sereno, who is now on indefinite leave, earlier said she is ready to face the impeachment proceedings in the Senate anytime soon.