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Duterte washes hands of oust-Sereno move

SALUTE TO EX-REBELS President Duterte salutes former members of the New People’s Army at a dinner in Malacañang.—MALACAÑANG PHOTO

Don’t look at me.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday washed his hands of moves to unseat Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

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Mr. Duterte said he had once called Sereno’s attention to her supposedly changing stance on the cases pending before the Supreme Court, but that was it for him.

“You can ask anybody, I never initiated [anything]. I just called her attention because of the so many cases pending and then her decision kept changing,” he said in a speech at the oath-taking of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission in Malacañang.

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It is Sereno’s colleagues who are now out to get her, the President added.

“The very complaint now of the justices. That was it. See, it eventually came out,” he said.

‘We are coequals’

He said he was leaving it up to Congress to judge the Chief Justice. Since he heads the executive branch, he is out of the process, Mr. Duterte said.

“We are coequals, so I cannot decide, I just cover the executive department,” the President said.

He, however, said that he was ready to listen to anyone’s grievances against any official.

“Whoever has issues, just tell me. I said I give you the authority to … Let me know by what means. Let me know and I’ll give you the time and space here,” he added.

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On Wednesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque disputed allegations that the Palace was exploiting the magistrates’ grievance against the Chief Justice to oust her.

The justices themselves are doing “excellent” in their efforts to unseat Sereno, Roque said.

“Why would we need to take advantage of that? I think the justices are doing an excellent job as it is,” he said.

“We don’t need to meddle. The problem of the Chief Justice is her own colleagues,” he added.

Sereno is facing ouster attempts on several fronts.

She is facing impeachment in the House of Representatives where several magistrates had testified against her.

Her colleagues have also asked her to go on indefinite leave to prepare for her impeachment trial in the Senate.

Calida petition

Citing testimonies from the impeachment proceedings in the House, Solicitor General Jose Calida has upped the ante by filing a petition seeking to void Sereno’s appointment as the country’s top magistrate for not meeting certain requirements when she applied for the position in 2012.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Sereno 10 days to comment on the petition.

In the impeachment complaint, Sereno has been accused of, among other offenses, failing to disclose her earnings, falsifying orders, using public funds to travel in extravagant style, manipulating the nomination of justices and delaying action on petitions involving the retirement benefits of judges or the spouses of deceased judges.

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TAGS: Jose Calida, Maria Lourdes Sereno, quo warranto petition, Rodrigo Duterte, Sereno impeachment, Supreme Court
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