Vows to resign if proven otherwise
MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday denied any involvement in the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.
Duterte said he will resign if it is proven that he had a hand in the top magistrate’s ouster.
“If there’s one congresswoman or congressman or a single justice who will say I talked to them, I can guarantee you I will resign,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview in Malacañang.
“I told Sereno I was not involved in it. Ask anyone. I never lifted a finger,” he added.
Malacañang has distanced itself and the President from the quo warranto proceedings at the high court and the impeachment complaint against Sereno at the House of Representatives.
Sereno earlier questioned Duterte’s hand in the ouster attempts against her.
Duterte would later declare himself the chief magistrate’s “enemy,” asking the House to fast-track the impeachment process against her. This followed Sereno’s dare for him to admit his participation in the ouster moves against her.
Duterte, however, denied that he ordered Solicitor General Jose 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.
The SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), is currently hearing former Senator Bongbong Marcos' electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The PET is now conducting a manual count of votes from three provinces Marcos named in his electoral protest.
The high court en banc voted 8-6 on Friday to grant Calida's petition to nullify Sereno’s appointment in 2012.
Calida argued Sereno was "unlawfully holding" office due to her failure to submit all her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs) when she applied for the post.
In its decision, the SC said its grant of a quo warranto plea to oust Sereno as Chief Justice seeks to ensure that “only qualified individuals” hold public office, asserting that impeachment is not the sole means to remove an impeachable officer.
The SC also allayed fears of a Constitutional crisis and stressed that it decides “based on the merits of a case,” and its justices “are beholden to no one” except to the people.
Sereno had insinuated that President Duterte was behind the Office of the Solicitor General’s quo warranto petition.
Sereno, the first woman to hold the top post in the judiciary, was supposed to stay in her post until her retirement at age 70 in 2030.
She was appointed by Aquino in 2012 following the ouster through impeachment of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona, an appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a key ally of President Duterte.