Ousted but unshaken: On the contrary, ‘we won’- Sereno
Updated 6:40 p.m.
“Panalo po tayo.” (We won.)
So said ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday as she joined thousands of her supporters gathered in front of the Supreme Court moments after the high tribunal nullified her appointment.
Sereno said six of the eight justices, who voted in favor of the quo warranto petition against her, were “biased” and should have inhibited from the voting.
The SC voted 8-6, granting the quo warranto petition that sought to remove Sereno from office. The quo warranto petition was filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida – the principal lawyer of the government – who questioned the qualification of Sereno as the country’s top magistrate.
Facing her supporters, Sereno said she believed that they won after all despite the SC majority ruling ousting her through a quo warranto.
“Maraming salamat po sa ating Panginoon. Lumawak po ang ating laban. Dapat ang anim ay nag-inhibit kaya’t kung tutuusin panalo po tayo. Anim sa natitirang walo ang nagsabi na ‘di ako dapat alisin; dalawa lang ang bumoto na dapat akong alisin,” she smilingly told the crowd, who was cheering her on.
“Pero dahil ‘di nag inhibit ang dapat mag inhibit, ganyan na lamang po ang nangyari,” she added.
But Sereno underscored that her fight to defend democracy would continue now more than ever.
“Inaalis ako sa pwesto pero ang anim na boto ay patunay na tama ang aking paninindigan, ang inyong paninindigan,” she noted.
“Laban po tayong lahat, sama-sama po tayo hanggang kadulu-duluhan,” she also said.
Sereno chided the eight magistrates, who voted to disqualify her, saying: “Inangkin nila ang tanging karapatan ng Senado. Tahasang nilabag ang sinumpaang tungkuling pag-ingatan ang Saligang-Batas at winasak ang hudikatura.”
“Ayon sa iskolar na si Raoul Berger, tanging impeachment lamang ang paraan upang patalsikin ang mahistrado ng Korte Suprema ‘pagkat kailangan ding ipagtanggol ang independensya ng isang mahistrado sa isa’t isa. Kung hindi, kayang-kayang tanggalin ng barkadahan ng sino man, sa ano mang rason basta nasa kanila ang sapat na boto. Ganoon na nga po ang nangyari,” she added.
The former top magistrate also thanked her supporters, mostly clad in white and violet shirts, for always standing by her side.
“Alam ko pong nalulungkot kayo ngayon. Kung kaya ko lang punasan ang inyong nga luha ay gagawin ko po. Nais ko pong yakapin at pasalamatan ang bawat isa sa inyo,” she told her supporters, some of whom shouting “we love you CJ,” while others trying to hold back their tears as they intently listen to Sereno’s words.
“Ang araw pong ito ay hindi tungkol sa akin, hindi ito ang unang pagkakataon na nilabag ang ating batas at institusyon at binalewala ang ating mga karapatan. Ang araw na ito ay tungkol sa ating lahat lalo na sa mga nakaranas ng panggigipit. Ito ay tungkol sa ating pinaglabang demokrasya na muling inagaw sa atin,” she also said.
After delivering her speech of defiance and gratitude, Sereno walked down the stage and headed onto the crowd unfazed and determined.
As she reached the entrance of the SC, Sereno was greeted by calls of “defend democracy, defend Chief Justice” from the crowd that echoed through the halls of the Tribunal.
Far on the other side of the cheering crowd, critics of Sereno, wearing red shirts, cheered for a different reason: her removal from office.
An obviously elated lawyer Ferdinand Topacio led the group, saying: “All the groups here for the ouster of CJ Sereno, we are very elated and we are so glad to see that all our efforts and struggles bore fruit.”
“This decision will underscore a greater accountability and stricter compliance with requirements under the law,” he continued.
Those who ruled in favor of granting the quo warranto petition versus Sereno were Associate Justices Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Francis H. Jardeleza, Samuel R. Martires, Noel G. Tijam, Andres B. Reyes Jr., and Alexander G. Gesmundo.
Those who ruled against the ouster case were Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, and Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Mariano C. Del Castillo, Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, Marvic F. Leonen, and Alfred Benjamin S. Caguioa. /kga/ac
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