MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday was seen in public with the lawyer who filed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Lawyer Larry Gadon was seen among the guests during the unveiling of the project marker of the Lisap Bridge during its inauguration in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro. In one photo released by the Palace, Gadon is seen mingling with Duterte and Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, although it was not immediately clear whether the lawyer and the President had a conversation.
The meeting comes despite Duterte and the Palace’s insistence that the administration was not behind efforts to oust Sereno through impeachment.
The House committee on justice already approved the draft articles of impeachment against Sereno in March this year.
Voting 33-1, the panel included 24 out of the 27 allegations by lawyer Larry Gadon in the 6 articles of impeachment.
The government’s chief lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, is also seeking Sereno’s ouster through a quo warranto petition. Calida argued that Sereno’s appointment is void since she failed to submit her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth when she was applying as chief magistrate.
The Supreme Court has ordered the conduct of oral arguments on the petition.
Sereno was appointed to the high court in 2012 by then president Benigno Aquino III following the ouster of the late chief magistrate Renato Corona, who was found guilty by the Senate impeachment court of misdeclaring his wealth.
Sereno is expected to stay in her post until her retirement at 70 in 2030.
She took an indefinite leave last month to prepare for the impeachment proceedings.