Rights group calls for judicial independence amid Sereno ouster

Rights group calls for judicial independence amid Sereno ouster

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.

Philippines Supreme Court justices, in a historic decision Friday, removed their own chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno, a known critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The House Justice committee opened the impeachment proceedings against Sereno and determined the impeachment complaint filed by Gadon "sufficient in form and substance" while dismissing the one filed by Jimenez.

After the SC's official announcement of the ruling, Sereno immediately stepped out of the SC building and spoke to her supporters.

The House panel, voting 33-1, approved articles of impeachment vs. Sereno.

"The reputation and esteem of this present Supreme Court will now rise or fall on the basis of the soundness or unsoundness of this controversial decision upholding a very unusual remedy to oust a sitting Chief Justice", he said.

"It primarily affects the entire nation as the Supreme Court literally sprawled the red carpet for dictatorial rule".

TRT World spoke Ana Santos in Manila.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma said that it's a "sad day for the separation of power and democratic system".

Once an independent judicial leader like Sereno, who acts as checks and balances to the executive branch of government, is ousted, "there will be no more balance of power".

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The ruling appears to bring the Philippines closer to what the opposition and human rights groups claim is quickly becoming a dictatorship as Duterte continuing to crack down on opposition lawmakers, judges, and media.

And so, I say today, our one and only Supreme Court promulgated its decision on the quo warranto petition just in time to spare us from further torment.

Ozamis Archbishop Martin Jumoad said: "We urge our people to stay calm and more prayers for the Holy Spirit to enlighten all of us".

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said that the decision granting the quo warranto petition does not affect the Chief Justice alone. She says she was ready to defend herself if the impeachment case reached the Senate for trial.

Duterte has sought the removal of Sereno and a top anti-graft prosecutor, Conchita Carpio-Morales, accusing them of allowing themselves to be used to discredit his administration. In the Supreme Court archives, there is a landmark decision naming the senators who took the bribe and detailing the payoffs. "I am putting you on notice that I am now your enemy", he said. "After having a lapdog Congress and a seriously wounded Senate, we now have a puppet Supreme Court". Renato Corona was impeached in 2011 for betraying the public trust and committing culpable violation of the Constitution.

Nonetheless, Sereno showed a courageous face and told her supporters: "The fight doesn't end here, as it has just begun".

Sereno has denied any wrongdoing.

Worldwide rights groups and local critics have accused the 73-year-old Duterte of drifting toward authoritarianism after declaring martial law in the south amid a major attack by pro-Islamic State group militants last year.

Later, she voted against his decision to declare martial law in the southern part of the country, where Islamist militants had taken control of the city of Marawi.

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