Philippine congressional panel finds probable cause to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice

10 March 2018, 01:22 | Robert Harris

Quo warranto or impeachment?

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The chairman of the House Committee on Justice on Wednesday expressed confidence that there is probable cause to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said the impeachment process might be moving at the House of Representatives, but the intention was not to bring the case to a Senate impeachment trial, but to force Sereno to resign. This is provided in Article XI, "Accountability of Public Officers", of the Constitution. Or would they adhere to the established jurisprudence that Sereno may be removed only via impeachment?

"I ask that we dispel all thoughts and impulses of malice and ill will for they serve no good objective and bring nothing but shame". The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the organization of the nation's lawyers, has said conviction after an impeachment trial is the only constitutionally recognized mode to remove a sitting chief justice.

Duterte's critics believe the impeachment move is motivated by the administration being uncomfortable with the fact she is due to hold the Supreme Court's top post until 2030, when she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

"All kinds of lies, threats, harassment and bullying have been thrown my way but I will not yield", Sereno said at an International Women's Day event in Manila today (Thursday, March 8).

The president has said this week that he had no hand in the impeachment. Would they vote to oust Chief Justice Sereno in a quo warrano case?

While Duterte has distanced himself from the impeachment proceedings, he had earlier blasted Sereno for going against him publicly.

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At least three mayors whose names were on the list were later gunned down in what police claimed were legitimate anti-drug operations.

The Philippines' most senior judge has become the latest woman to face ruin after defying President Duterte.

Sereno had also gone against Duterte when he pushed, in 2016, for a transfer to the Heroes' Cemetery in Manila of the remains of dictator Ferdinand Marcos; and when he pushed for martial law in the south to defeat Islamic State militants.

Also, Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez of the First District of Davao del Norte said the House may opt to await the SC ruling before the plenary decides whether to send the case to the Senate for trial.

The complaint also alleged 27 acts constituting the offences charged against Sereno, such as falsification of manipulated judicial nominations and proceedings and failed to file a Statement of Assets, Liability and Net Worth from when she was a professor at the University of the Philippines.

Calida's petition was "grossly flawed" because it subverts the impeachment power that is grossly granted to Congress, Lagman said.

"The Chief Justice is innocent and she can prove her innocence at the Senate", he stressed.

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