MANILA - (UPDATED) President Rodrigo Duterte's order for House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Solicitor General Jose Calida to fast-track the sacking of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno destroys checks and balances in the government, advocacy group Movement Against Tyranny said Tuesday.
Sereno on Monday challenged Duterte to disprove allegations that he was behind the quo warranto petition filed by Calida nullifying her appointment.
This prompted an irate Duterte to declare himself as Sereno's "enemy." He added that he will "egg Calida to do his best" in the ouster proceedings against Sereno, and ask Congress to "go into the impeachment right away."
"In declaring himself an enemy of the Chief Justice and guaranteeing her ouster from the Supreme Court, the President also declared war on a Constitution that clearly stipulates the co-equal status of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government," the Movement Against Tyranny said in a statement.
Duterte's order also "gives lie to his efforts to wash his hands off this persecution of Sereno," the group said.
The Movement Against Tyranny also slammed Alvarez for saying that Sereno's impeachment will be "done" once Congress resumes sessions in May.
"Speaker Alvarez’s swift assurance that his lord’s order be done only cements the reputation of the House of Representatives as a chamber of servile, venal politicians who have reduced Congress to a rubber stamp of Malacañang," it said.
The coalition urged Supreme Court justices to "show the tyrant that there are lines you will not cross" as they begin deliberations on the quo warrant complaint on Tuesday afternoon.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said Duterte's call to expedite Sereno's ouster was directed to members of PDP-Laban.
"The President, as party chairman of PDP-Laban, called for the impeachment of Chief Justice Sereno. This was directed to the House of Representatives members belonging to the PDP-Laban," he said in a statement.
The ouster moves against Sereno accuse her of bypassing colleagues in the issuance of court orders, enjoying a lavish lifestyle, misdeclaring her wealth, and failing to pay about P2 million in taxes.
She has denied the allegations.
Duterte and Sereno first clashed in 2016 when she criticized his order that judges whom he linked to the illegal drugs trade turn themselves in as part of his crackdown.
The country's first female chief justice has been on leave from her duties at the Supreme Court since March in preparation for her impending impeachment trial. She was expected to stay in her post until she reaches the mandatory retirement age in 2030.