MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the government's top lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, faced off Tuesday as the Supreme Court began deliberations on a quo warranto petition seeking the removal of its leader.
Calida had filed the petition asking the High Court to nullify Sereno's appointment for allegedly failing to declare her wealth in full -- a requirement when she applied for her post.
The Solicitor General, in a Twitter post ahead of the proceedings, maintained that Sereno "usurps the office of Chief Justice."
Calida and Sereno will be given 20 minutes each to present their arguments before Supreme Court judges interpellate them after.
Sereno had questioned the impartiality of 5 of her colleagues and sought their inhibition from the proceedings, noting that they testified against her in a separate impeachment complaint before the House of Representatives.
Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam rejected Sereno's recusal petition in a ruling they made public hours ahead of the quo warranto deliberations.
Sereno was appointed to the high court in 2012 by 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, the country's first female chief justice, was expected to stay in her post until her retirement at 70 in 2030.
She took an indefinite leave last month to prepare for ouster moves against her.
Her removal would pave the way for President Duterte to appoint a new chief justice.
Watch a live stream of the quo warranto proceedings here.