MANILA—A group of former government officials on Wednesday said the impeachment complaints filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno were due to her criticisms of the current administration's war on drugs.
In a statement, the Former Senior Government Officials and International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance said the impeachment complaints aim to weaken the Supreme Court, which holds the administration accountable for its actions.
“Because the Chief Justice was a conscientious dissenter in the acquittal of former President Arroyo's plunder case and the burial of former President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani; because she consistently advocates and upholds the rule of law, due process and human rights, she is now targeted as an obstruction to the administration’s ‘war on drugs’,” the statement read.
“We see this as part of a bigger strategy to compromise the Commission on Human Rights, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Elections all constitutional bodies designed to serve as checks and balances of governance,” it added.
The House Committee on Justice on Wednesday said it found the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon “sufficient in substance.”
The complaint accused Sereno of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.
Sereno asserted that the impeachment complaint lacked evidence and seemed aimed at maximizing "the political spectacle."
Lawyer Carlo Cruz, Sereno's spokesperson, disagreed with the House panel's move and said "many of the allegations in the Gadon complaint are unsupported by evidence or rely mainly on hearsay consisting of newspaper clippings."
The House committee, meanwhile, junked the impeachment complaint filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
Friction between President Rodrigo Duterte and Sereno started last year after the chief justice made a statement against warrantless arrests at the height of the president's intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
The President called the Chief Justice's remarks "dangerous" and having the potential to "promote anarchy," and went on to enumerate the legal bases for warrantless arrests.
In August, Duterte also slammed Sereno for "interfering" in his campaign against illegal drugs and threatened to declare martial law. ---With reports from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News