MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will not step down from her post amid calls by President Rodrigo Duterte to resign, one of her spokespersons in the impeachment case said.
“The Chief Justice will not resign because she has done nothing unlawful, illegal and impeachable,” lawyer Josalee Deinla told reporters at the House of Representatives.
“Gusto niya lang mangyari ay makapagpatuloy siya sa paggampan ng kanyang tungkulin bilang punong mahistrado ng Korte Suprema [All she wants is to continue her work as chief magistrate of the Supreme Court],” she added.
Deinla, together with lawyers Justin Mendoza and Anzen Dy, filed a “verified rejoinder” to the reply of Atty. Lorenzo Gadon, the complainant in the impeachment case against Sereno.
Over the weekend, Duterte said he would not submit to the investigation by the Ombudsman, who is looking into his familly’s wealth. He said he would not let the Supreme Court decide either, and noted that Sereno was facing an impeachment complaint at the House.
He then challenged Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to resign with him.
In the verified rejoinder, Sereno’s lawyers said Gadon conceded that some of his allegations may not be impeachable offenses.
They identified these charges as the Chief Justice’s alleged misdeclaration of her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth; her allegedly illegal acquisition of the Toyota Land Cruiser; her business class travels; her alleged shortlists for the six vacancies in the Sandiganbayan; and her mental and psychological evaluation results.
“The reply (of Gadon), with its countless inane personal attacks on the incumbent head of the Judiciary, has done nothing to help the complainant’s cause,” according to the rejoinder.
It also noted that some of Gadon’s allegations stated that they “will be verified later” at “evidentiary hearings.”
“The time, energy and resources of the State should not be devoted to a case where the complainant pleads so-called grounds for impeachment, but then readily admits the legality of the acts in question,” Sereno’s lawyers said.
“Public funds should not finance a proceeding where the complainant swears based on personal knowledge and authentic records, but then cites news reports and expresses the need to verify his facts later. The people’s money should never fund a fishing expedition,” they added.
The House justice committee earlier found the complaint sufficient in form and in substance. On Thursday, it is expected to hear the complaint anew and decide if it has sufficient grounds and probable cause to impeach Sereno.
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