PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has denied lobbying for the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“I don’t want to get involved with that. I heard something that, Duterte is out to…what? Me? She can ask anybody. I can guarantee you. Ask around if I talked to someone to impeach her, except the public,” Duterte said in a news conference after gracing the League of Cities General Assembly late Tuesday night.
“I just reacted because of the so many complaints coming in; from the justices themselves, the way she conducted [her job], but that was it. Ma’am Sereno, I’m sorry to tell you, and you can investigate the whole town, commission journalists, if I have talked to people about your impeachment,” Duterte added.
The President called for the impeachment of Sereno last October 5 for her supposed failure to declare her earnings as government counsel in the case against Piatco in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) and of living a lavish lifestyle by using luxury cars and staying in expensive hotel suites.
Sereno has denied the allegations and said in television interviews this week that moves to impeach her were not about throwing her out but threatening democracy as well.
Palace Spokesman Harry Roque said that the impeachment was a constitutional process.
Under Article 11, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, “the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office, on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”
“She (Sereno) is mistaken. Having said that, we should let the process continue,” Roque said.
“The legislature is a separate branch of government. They have exclusive jurisdiction to determine probable cause on impeachment complaints. We trust Congress will do its job,” said Roque, who served as Kabayan party-list representative before he was appointed as Palace spokesman in November.