MANILA, Philippines – “The Chief Justice will not resign because she has done nothing illegal, unlawful, and impeachable.”
The camp of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday, October 2, thumbed down a “challenge” from no less than President Rodrigo Duterte that he, Sereno, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales all resign from their posts amid corruption allegations against Duterte and Sereno, and a probe by the Ombudsman.
Josa Deinla, one of Sereno’s spokespersons in the impeachment case against her before the House of Representatives, made the statement after the Chief Justice filed another response to lawyer Larry Gadon, who had replied to Sereno’s answers on the allegations against her.
Gadon is the complainant in the impeachment case against Sereno that’s being tackled before the House committee on justice.
The committee found Gadon’s complaint sufficient in form and substance, and will next determine if there is probable cause to pursue it.
“[Sereno] wants to continue performing her role as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” said Deinla.
Sereno has reiterated before that she would not be stepping down, despite Gadon’s allegations that she committed impeachable offenses.
Among the issues Gadon raised are decisions which Sereno made without the SC en banc’s approval, the purchase of a luxury vehicle for her security, the authorization of travel expenses for her staff, and her alleged dishonesty in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
The Chief Justice and her lawyers insist the issues Gadon raised are not in impeachable offenses. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Chief Justice Sereno’s impeachment case, and her oppositors in SC)
Duterte’s seemingly off-the-cuff pronouncements come as the Office of the Ombudsman announced it would continue its probe into allegations of ill-gotten wealth against Duterte. The case was filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, among Duterte’s loudest critics in Congress.
While the Palace initially said they trusted the Office of the Ombudsman’s “impartiality,” Duterte himself threatened to probe the office for its “partiality.” The Ombudsman answered back by saying they would not be intimidated.
Since then, discussion has intensified over whether Duterte has the authority to order such a probe.
During a speech before new officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Davao City Chapter on Saturday, September 30, Duterte insisted he would not submit to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman and also said that Congress “refuses it.” He then went on to add that he has “deep respect” for the SC, but would be hesitant if it were headed by a corrupt official.
He then challenged Sereno and Morales to resign alongside him, and said the military should investigate them instead. It is unclear why Duterte floated the idea of tapping the military, since it’s the courts that typically decide on these matters. – Rappler.com