Philippine Supreme Court justices oust chief justice

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno goes back to work two months after taking an indefinite leave at the request of her fellow magistrates

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno goes back to work two months after taking an indefinite leave at the request of her fellow magistrates

The Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warrant petition [text, PDF], a legal proceeding challenging a person's right to office, in March.

August 24, 2012 President Benigno Aquino 3rd appoints Maria Lourdes Sereno Chief Justice, becoming the first woman to hold the position and the youngest at 52 years old. Appointed at age 52, she was supposed to stay in the Supreme Court as chief magistrate for 18 years but lasted less than 6 years.

Under the Constitution, impeachable officials are the president, vice president, SC justices, members of the constitutional commissions (Commission on Elections, Civil Service Commission and Commission on Audit), and the Ombudsman. Sereno was however given 10 days to appeal the high court's decision.

"On this day, let us unite and let our voices be heard". "For the longest time, we have not had a national conversation", she said.

Pangilinan, who heads the opposition Liberal Party, says "what the majority in the Supreme Court did was a mockery of the constitution".

Opposition politicians denounced the ruling. "If we don't wake up now, it will really be the death of democracy and sometimes history is cruel", Roman Catholic priest and protest leader Robert Reyes said outside the court. "The court ruling is likewise an assertion of the supremacy of the fundamental law of the land", he added. "President Duterte has now his partnership", De Lima said. The House still had to vote in the plenary, but made a decision to wait out the results of the Supreme Court vote. Although she did not mention President Rodrigo Duterte by name, she alluded to many issues under his leadership, including extrajudicial killings, which have been raised by rights activists and critics.

Sereno had snubbed the House hearings, and instead dared her critics to impeach her so she could defend herself at the Senate, where she said she believed she stood a better chance at getting cleared.

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On Thursday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar summoned the chief executive officers of all airlines of the country to the apex court's Karachi Registry on Saturday in relation to a suo motu case on fake degrees of airline employees.

"The Supreme Court's decision to grant the quo warranto petition against the Chief Justice destroyed the constitutional process of impeachment and system of checks and balances", said Akbayan spokesperson Gio Tingson. "That is how democracy works", Panelo said. But there are still some lawmakers calling for the impeachment to proceed independently from the Supreme Court.

Duterte in April publicly called Sereno an "enemy" and ordered his allies in Congress to speed up her removal. "And I personally respect that", said Martin. "I am very sorry for what happened", the bishop added.

Shortly after he was elected, Duterte said that when it comes to drug dealers, his "order is shoot to kill you".

Sereno's supporters argued that the submission of an applicant's SALNs is not absolute requirement since it is not mentioned in the 1987 Constitution as qualification for a member of the Supreme Court.

In both instances, she was outvoted by her colleagues.

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