MANILA- Still a victory.
This was how recently ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno described the decision of the Supreme Court to remove her from office.
Barely an hour after the high court invalidated her appointment, an unfazed Sereno took to the streets to thank her supporters.
"Ang araw na ito ay hindi kabiguan kundi isang tagumpay sapagkat nakikita niyong lahat ang inyong lakas na kayo ay nasa panig ng katotohanan laban sa makapangyarihan," she told her supporters, waving purple flags and ribbons.
"Habang tumitindig tayo para sa matuwid hindi tayo kailanman magiging talunan," she added.
(This day is not of failure but one of victory because as all of you can see your strength knowing that you are at the side of truth against the powerful.)
(As long as we stand for what is right we will never lose.)
Voting 8-6 on Friday, magistrates of the high court ousted Sereno, the first woman to hold the top post in the judiciary.
Sereno, who was expected to serve until she reaches the mandatory retirement age in 2030, was removed via a "quo warranto" petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
The government's top lawyer cited her failure to fully disclose her wealth in seeking her removal from office.
Her removal from office marks the first time in Philippine history that a chief justice would be removed through a quo warranto plea, a legal recourse Sereno's camp had argued as incorrect.
Sereno explained that the Supreme Court decision against her is still a victory because six of the magistrates that voted to remove her should not have been included in the deliberations.
"Walo po ang dapat lamang bumoto sa kaso ng quo warranto dahil ang anim ay dapat nag-inhibit kaya kung tutuusin panalo po tayo. Dalawa lamang ang bumoto na ako ay dapat alisin," she said.
(Eight should have only voted on the quo warranto petition becase the six should have inhibited which is why technically we still won. Only two voted that I should be removed.)
On allegations of bias, Sereno had earlier asked for the recusal of Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, and Noel Tijam from participating in the deliberation on the ouster plea against her.
All six magistrates voted to remove Sereno from office.
"Inaalis ako sa pwesto ngunit ang 6 na boto na ako ay dapat ako manatili ay patunay na tama ang aking paninindigan, ang inyong paninindigan," Sereno said.
(I was removed from my post but the six who voted that I should stay is proof that I stand for what is right, you stand for what is right.)
Sereno also noted that her removal from office is not about her but about how the powerful allegedly view themselves as above the law.
"Ang araw na ito ay tungkol sa mga may kapangyarihan na nagpasya na hindi sila nasasakop ng batas at kung saan tayong lahat ang biktima," she said.
(This day is about those in power who decided that they are abobve the law and where all of us are victims.)
She also thanked her supporters, saying their prayers have not gone to waste.
"Sinasabi ko sa inyo, ang mga buwan ng panalangin at paninindigan at paghihirap nating lahat ay mayroong malaking saysay," she said.
"Salamat po sa Panginoong Diyos pagka't lumawak na po ang ating laban," she added.
(Months of prayer, resolve, and suffering have meaning. Thank God because our battle just became bigger.)