Judiciary's independence 'on trial,' opposition lawmakers say

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2018 03:30 PM | Updated as of Jan 25 2019 08:13 PM

MANILA - Opposition lawmakers on Tuesday warned there will be repercussions if Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is removed from office.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said President Duterte's recent pronouncements against the top magistrate shows the President's "dictatorial desires."

"President Duterte's attacks against Chief Justice Sereno is also an attack against democracy which only displays his dictatorial desires and plans to control all branches of government," she said.

"An ouster or impeachment of the Chief Justice based on malicious claims would be a win for Duterte to silence and overthrow his critics and to control all 3 branches of government," she added.

Aside from impeachment, the Chief Justice is also facing a petition before the Supreme Court that seeks to nullify her appointment because of her alleged failure to declare wealth when she was applying for the position.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio urged the public to monitor these proceedings closely as he believes the judiciary's independence, and not just Sereno, has been put on trial.

"More than the Chief Justice, what is on trial is the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers of the three co-equal branches of government," he said. 

Duterte on Monday said he is now Sereno's "enemy" after the Chief Justice urged him to explain why the government's lawyer was seeking the invalidation of her appointment.

"I will see to it then after that I will request the Congress, go into the impeachment right away," the President added. 

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez believes Sereno cannot escape ouster. He believes both the impeachment complaint and quo warranto petition against Sereno are "very valid."

"Well it's a question of which will happen the quo warranto or the impeachment in the plenary. Both are forthcoming anyway," said Suarez.