‘I do not have to be chief justice to defend our laws and institutions’ –Sereno

Hours after her colleagues denied with finality her motion for reconsideration, ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno vowed to continue the fight against the ‘vicious’ Rodrigo Duterte administration even as a private citizen.

With hundreds of supporters at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni Tuesday, June 19, Sereno recounted the attacks against her during the hearings at the House of Representatives after Duterte himself led the call for her ouster as chief magistrate.

Duterte was later joined by Sereno’s colleagues at the High Court who refused to inhibit themselves during deliberations on her case and voted eight against six for her ouster via a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

“In the words of my colleagues, the Supreme Court has committed seppuku without honor,” she said.

Hours earlier, the Supreme Court voted via another eight to six majority to deny with finality Sereno’s motion for reconsideration on the decision ousting her as chief magistrate.

The Court upheld its earlier decision to grant the quo warranto petition against Sereno on the basis of her so-called failure to file at least nine statements of assets and liabilities as a professor of the UP College of Law.

Opponents of the decision, however, argued that a chief justice may only be ousted via the Constitutionally-mandated impeachment proceedings.

A mirror and a warning

Sereno said that her story is not unique, but instead a mirror of what is happening to the country as a whole.

“It is also a warning and a call to action for each of us and all of us together as a nation,” Sereno said, adding that her story echoes the experiences of Filipinos who have had the odds stacked against them because of poverty, injustice or the misfortune of being called enemies by those in power.

Sereno also noted that the attack on her and her office was preceded by attacks against other departments such as the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Higher Education.

She also criticized the blatant disregard of the administration for the Constitution and the rule of law, citing the concern of the international community for the alarming lawlessness in the country.

“The responsibility for the week ending of the rule of law is his,” Sereno added, pointing at Duterte himself.

Demanding answers

“I stand before you now stripped of my authority and position by an unjust decision. But I do not have to be Chief Justice to defend our laws and institutions,” Sereno said.

Sereno said that it is time to demand answers to the nagging questions that every Filipino has been thinking of.

She inquired about the economic future of the country with the poverty becoming pervasive due to price inflation and how much financial difficulties the people have to bear when more tax reform measures are passed by Congress.

The ousted chief justice also challenged Duterte on his programs including his shift to federalism, his relationship with the government of China, his position on the West Philippine Sea, the killing of more than 27,0000 extrajudicial killing victims, disappearance of thousands more, the situation of the people in Marawi, and the freedom of speech and of the press.

Sereno said that the day of her ouster was a good opportunity to open new chapter in the life of the Filipinos, coming as it did on the birth anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. #