Duterte vows to resign if proven behind Sereno ouster


PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday vowed to resign if it would be proven that he had a hand in the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.

In a media interview in Malacañang, Duterte again denied any involvement in the removal of Sereno.

“I said (if) there’s one congresswoman or congressman or Justice, a single justice  magsabi may kinausap ako diyan na (who will say I talked to them), I can guarantee you, I will resign,” Duterte told reporters.

“Sinabi ko na nga kay Sereno, ‘hindi ako nakialam (I told Sereno I was not involved in it)…Tanungin niyo maski sino (Ask anyone). I never lifted a finger,” he said.

Sereno was unseated by her colleagues at the Supreme Court, the first for a chief justice in the Philippine history.

Under the 1987 Constitution, an impeachable officer is removed from office through impeachment proceedings heard in Congress.

Aside from the quo warranto plea, Sereno was also facing an impeachment case before the House of Representatives.

On May 11, the Supreme Court voted in favor of the quo warranto petition lodged by Solicitor General Jose Calida, seeking to invalidate Sereno’s appointment as top magistrate.

But Duterte, during Wednesday’s media interview, denied that he ordered Calida to file the quo warranto petition against Sereno.

He said Calida’s move may be related to his being a staunch supporter of the Marcos family.

“Calida, it was his job to find faults. Hindi ko inaano, sabi ko, ‘I do not order Cabinet members’… Whatever he thinks that it is his duty to perform, hindi ako nakikialam,” Duterte said.

Sereno is the second chief justice to be ousted, following former chief justice Renato Corona who was impeached in 2012 for failure to fully disclose his wealth.

Prior to the high court’s decision against Sereno, Duterte in April announced that the female head magistrate was now his “enemy” for accusing him of being behind the filing of the quo warranto case against her.

The President also instructed his allies at the House to hasten Sereno’s ouster, saying that she is not deserving to serve the top post in the Supreme Court as she is “bad for the Philippines.”

Sereno, the first woman and youngest chief justice, would have also served the longest as she was scheduled to step down in 2030 when she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. CATHERINE S. VALENTE



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