Duterte denies hand in Sereno impeachment

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

President Rodrigo Duterte and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — As a House panel decides on whether or not to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday junked claims that he's behind her ouster.

"You can ask anybody — I never initiated 'to si Sereno… Eh I just called her attention because of the so many cases pending tapos pa-iba ang decision niya," Duterte said during the oath-taking of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission on Tuesday.

"'Yung the very complaint now of the Justices. 'Yun man 'yon. O kita mo, 'di lumabas rin [It is what it is. See, it would come out eventually]," he added.

The President said he is not vested with powers to impeach Sereno.

"Congress, well, you be the judge. Hindi ako pwede. Executive department ako. Co-equal kami eh so hindi ako pwedeng mag-ano, Executive department lang ako," he said.

[Translation: Congress, well you be the hudge. I'm not allowed, I'm part of the executive department. We're co-equals.]

The House Committee on Justice is expected to vote today if there is probable cause to impeach her. Eight associate justices of the Supreme Court spoke during the previous hearings: Justices Lucas Bersamin, Teresita de Castro, Mariano del Castillo, Francis Jardaleza, Samuel Martires, Diosdado Peralta, Andres Reyes, and Noel Tijam.

The SC announced on Thursday 13 out of 14 justices urged Sereno to take an indefinite leave. While the high court attributed the move to "various reasons," some of her detractors took this to mean members of the court wanted her out.

Apart from the impeachment case, Sereno is facing a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court (SC). Solicitor General Jose Calida seeks to void Sereno's appointment, saying Sereno has been "unlawfully holding" her post since she allegedly failed to submit her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) for 10 years before she applied for the post in 2012.

In February, Sereno's lawyers spoke against "coordinated" efforts to oust the Chief Justice from her post.