Justice Isa concerned over CJP's 'unwarranted' reconstitution of bench

Philippine top judges vote out chief justice

Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who presided over the impeachment trial of CJ Renato Corona, fears another painful outcome of Ms. Sereno's removal from the Supreme Court: Would she be made to refund the government in the form of her salaries as chief justice going back to 2012?

"We are hopeful therefore that due process will be preserved and any motion for reconsideration given utmost respect and attention", said the JRI.

Aside from a government petition to declare Sereno ineligible to lead the Supreme Court over her alleged failure to declare her wealth before she became chief justice, she also faced an impeachment complaint in the House of Representatives. "For years now, respondent and I have had a generally professional relationship and I have been exerting my best as a Supreme Court Associate Justice".

Indeed, the national situation is dire, and it behooves every good citizen to ensure that the battle to defend democracy is well-fought on all fronts.

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.

The note referred to a recent incident during the case proceedings when Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Health Secretary Abid Majeed was reading out from a report on incinerators in government hospitals, which he said had been submitted on the directives of the human rights cell (HRC) of the apex court.

"By ousting the Chief Justice through the expediency of holding that the Chief Justice failed this "test" of integrity", Caugioa added, "it is actually the Court that fails".

Once an independent judge like Sereno is ousted, "there will be no more balance of power. Let's continue to spread the message of democracy and reason". "Duterte will be a virtual dictator", Reyes said.

Opposition politicians denounced Sereno's removal. By having forced Sereno's ouster, however, Duterte has further isolated himself and has generated a potentially fatal political crisis.

But one opposition party said the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno, the country's first woman chief justice, removed a shield against abuse of power in government and left behind a "puppet Supreme Court".

The House Justice Committee said in March there was probable cause to impeach Sereno, accusing her of corruption, breach of public trust and other serious crimes.

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo named Corona chief justice during the election ban on appointments before the 2010 presidential race, which Benigno Aquino III won.

Worldwide rights groups and local critics have accused the 73-year-old Duterte of moving toward authoritarianism after declaring martial law in the south amid a major attack by pro-Islamic State group militants last year.

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