Sereno slams majority for taking 'shortcuts,' shunning due process

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 07 2018 12:24 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2018 12:27 PM

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MANILA - Embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday hit the ruling majority for taking "shortcuts" instead of adhering to due process.

Speaking in a forum at St. Scholastica's College in Manila, Sereno, currently facing ouster moves at the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, called for respect for the Constitution but did not make reference to ongoing proceedings aimed at removing her from office. 

"The current state of the nation is one where perceived enemies of the dominant order are considered fair game for harassment, intimidation and persecution, where shortcuts are preferred over adherence to constitutional guarantees and human rights, including the denial to due process," Sereno said. 

She slammed "impromptu, extemporized, unprepared and unthoughtout plans of action" that violate the Constitution and its mechanism for accountability. 

"Hindi po maaring padalos-dalos ang galaw. Hindi po puwedeng ang mga aksiyon ay panay bira lamang. Pagkat ang Constitution ay nagsasabi sa atin na palakasin ang mga institusyon ng demokrasya, institusyon ng transparency at accountability. Huwag pahinain ito," Sereno said. 

"May struktura at paraan paano ang pamamalakad ng transparency at accountability. Gawin ito ng tama," said the chief magistrate, who had earlier drawn the President's ire for criticizing some of his policies. 

Sereno is facing an impeachment complaint at the House for allegedly failing to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) before her appointment to the post in 2012 and other alleged administrative irregularities. 

She has said there was high probability the case would proceed to trial at the Senate. 

Last week, petitions to nullify her appointment were also filed before the Supreme Court. 

The charges were filed after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the high court may oust the chief magistrate should the validity of her appointment be questioned before the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the high court asked Sereno's camp to file her answer to the quo warranto case filed by the Solicitor General as it junked a petition filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano. 

Sereno's spokesperson, in an interview on ANC's Top Story Tuesday, labelled the move as unconstitutional and asserted that the chief justice may only be ousted through impeachment proceedings.

The chief magistrate, meanwhile, appealed to constitutional commissions and other branches of government to do their best to remain independent from ruling powers.

"We must not be passive spectators to what is happening, thinking that it is a game of thrones among political forces," she said.

Sereno was appointed to the high court in 2012 by former president Benigno Aquino III following the ouster of the late chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was removed for undeclared wealth.

The country's first female chief justice was expected to stay in her post until reaching the mandatory retirement age in 2030, supposedly outlasting several presidents.