Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
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A rally for SC Justice Sereno

A rally for SC Justice Sereno

Duterte reacted angrily to Sereno's statement on Monday in which she accused the president of allegedly meddling in the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against her before the High Court.

"I'm putting you on notice that I'm your enemy and have to be out of the Supreme Court", a seething Duterte told Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in a press conference he held at the global airport in his hometown of Davao City in Mindanao before flying to China to attend an worldwide conference.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro on Tuesday was the first to interpellate Sereno over her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALNs). She even accused de Castro of having an "absurd and oppressive" interpretation of law with regard to the filing of SALN. "This is a part of due process and equal protection that I am raising now".

Earlier, the powerful House Committee on Justice, dominated by Duterte allies, approved its report seeking the impeachment of Sereno and immediately referred it to the plenary for approval. "But, under Rule 66, I have the power to file a quo warranto on my own without the President's instruction", Calida told reporters prior to the start of the oral arguments on his petition Under Rule 66 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, a quo warranto petition may be commenced against a person who usurps, intrudes into or unlawfully holds or exercises a public office, position or franchise.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is set to hear a separate petition to unseat Sereno from the country's highest tribunal tomorrow. Sereno, however, insisted that it didn't have to be on the date of assumption of office.

A spokesman for Sereno said she was eager to prove in court she had done nothing wrong.

Duterte on Monday said he is Sereno's "enemy" after the top magistrate urged him to explain why Calida was seeking the invalidation of her appointment. Sereno's failure to submit her SALNs for the past years is the major basis of the solicitor general in filing the quo warranto petition, which intends to nullify Sereno's appointment as chief justice.

Police say they have killed roughly 4,000 drug suspects who fought back during arrest since Duterte launched the war almost two years ago. "Her appointment is tainted with invalidity because she is ineligible, '" Calida said. "She is bad for the Philippines", he added.

"Although she is an impeachable officer, she may thus be ousted from office despite her protestations".

If lawmakers in the full House support the finding, Sereno would face a US-style impeachment trial in the Senate or upper house.

In their urgent plea, the petitioners said they have a "clear legal interest" on the case, adding Sereno can only be removed from her post through the impeachment process and not by a quo warranto petition.

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