MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday said she took a leave of absence to prepare for her possible impeachment trial before the Senate.
"I need to prepare to fight the accusations against me fairly and squarely, with honor, dignity and grace," Sereno said in a speech during the 25th national convention of the Regional Trial Court Clerks of Court Association of the Philippines (RCAP).
"It makes me proud to fight for you."
Sereno added that the "ship of state of the judiciary remains on course" despite her wellness leave, which begins Thursday.
"I want to give you the assurance that while I will be taking a leave of absence, the ship of state of the judiciary remains on course," she said.
This was the top magistrate's first appearance after announcing that she will take a leave of absence to prepare for her possible impeachment trial.
Her spokesperson Jojo Lacanilao said Sereno will take her leave on March 1 to 15 instead of March 12 to 23 as originally planned.
ABS-CBN News sources, meanwhile, said the Supreme Court en banc forced the top magistrate to go on indefinite leave starting Thursday, March 1.
This even as lawmakers at the House of Representatives have yet to decide whether or not the ouster complaint against Sereno has probable cause.