“I’m putting you on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court”

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President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress to speed-up the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, as he vowed to make sure that the latter will be out of the Supreme Court.

“I’m putting you on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,” Duterte said, warning that if it needs force removal of the chief magistrate, he would do it.

The President then asked House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to fast-track the impeachment.

“I would ask Speaker Alvarez now, kindly fast-track the impeachment. She is bad for the Philippines,” Duterte said in a press interview at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport shortly before departing for the People’s Republic of China to attend the Boao Forum of Asia.

“Do it now. Huwag ninyong dramahin (Don’t be dramatic about it) or else I’ll do it for you,” he said.

The Chief Executive’s remarks came after Sereno asked the President to publicly explain why it was Solicitor General Jose Calida who filed the quo warranto petition.

Sereno was quoted in reports saying, “If you really didn’t have anything to do with this, please explain why Solgen Calida, who reports to you, filed the quo warranto petition. Surely you must explain to the people why this unconstitutional act.”

However, Sereno’s insinuation that he has something to do with the impeachment does not sit well with the President.

Duterte said he had made it clear that he had nothing to do with Sereno’s ouster, saying, it has never been his character to get back at enemies even at the time when he was facing many cases filed by his political nemesis former Speaker Prospero Nograles.

“But if you are insisting — count me in,” he told Sereno.

“Sinabi ko na hindi ako nakikialam (I have said I don’t interfere),” he stressed.

Sereno on Monday said the public could no longer be deceived as it is clear that her impeachment in Congress and the filing of quo warranto petition had the President’s go-signal.

“Filipinos are smart. They understand. You do not need to spell out the truth for them…It can’t be denied that there is an unseen hand behind this,” the Chief Justice said.

Sereno made this comment a day before the scheduled oral argument on the quo warranto petition where she is expected to appear before her fellow magistrates and answer their questions in relation to the allegations made in the petition.

The Solicitor General argued that Sereno did not meet the specific qualification of proven integrity for the Chief Justice post with her failure to comply with the required submission of her 10-year statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).

It may be recalled that Calida’s petition against Sereno stemmed from a letter filed by suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari, urging him to initiate a quo warranto proceeding against her.

Sereno, who has gone on indefinite leave to prepare for her impending impeachment trial, insisted that the SC has no jurisdiction and authority to remove her from office because the 1987 Constitution provides that she could only be ousted by impeachment in Congress as an impeachable official.

A quo warranto proceeding is an action by the government against a person who unlawfully holds a public office or holds a position where he or she is not qualified.

Calida insisted that a quo warranto proceeding is a “proper remedy to question the validity of Sereno’s appointment”. (with reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

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