Justice Qazi Isa questions CJP's decision of reconstitution of bench

Philippine top judges vote out chief justice

The court gave Sereno a deadline of 10 days after receiving a copy of its decision to explain why she should not be sanctioned for a number of alleged violations, such as "casting aspersions and ill-motive to the members of the Supreme Court".

Sereno has consistently voted against Duterte's more dictatorial proposals, including extensions of martial law in the country's southern regions, and has been vocally critical of the authoritarian "strongman" approach of Duterte to the presidency.

Court spokesman Theodore Te says eight of 14 justices voted Friday to remove Sereno from the 15-member tribunal for allegedly failing to file statements of assets and liabilities as required by law. The Congress, controlled by Duterte's allies, was due to vote on an impeachment complaint against Sereno next week.

Justice Isa asserted that the reconstitution of the bench was without any reason and unprecedented and by doing so transparency of the system would be damaged, which may have serious repercussions.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte's top lawyer dismissed fresh insinuations that the Chief Executive had a hand in the historic ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as the chief magistrate of the Supreme Court.

Justice Isa reveals that while the SC judges were discussing the disposal of infectious hospital wastes in Peshawar, the CJP stood up and reconstituted the bench hearing the case.

Sereno's position is vacant with immediate effect and the court has ordered the judicial and bar council to begin a new selection process, Te said. "It is a sad day", Jojo Lacanilao said in a television interview.


Manila political opposition politicians were quick to denounce the top judge's removal, with Philippines Senator Risa Hontiveros decrying it as "a direct stab to the heart of our constitution".

Lourdes Sereno did not play a factor in his decision to side with the majority 8-6 vote upholding the quo warranto petition.

"After having a lapdog Congress and a seriously wounded Senate, we now have a puppet Supreme Court".

Sereno told the crowd: "Let's continue to defend the constitution and fight wrongdoing". Anti-Sereno protesters also gathered outside the building.

He encouraged Sereno's supporters to read his opinion so they "can make their own judgment on whether my acts and words rise to the level of a disqualifying bias or prejudice".

Duterte and Sereno first clashed in 2016 when she criticised his order urging judges whom he linked to the illegal drugs trade to turn themselves in as part of his crackdown.

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