MATTHEW RODRIGUEZ WRITES – The Philippines’ House of Representatives found probable cause for impeachment of the first female Chief Justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Justice Sereno has been accused of corruption and under-reporting income, among other allegations. This historic figure denies them all. But in a resounding result, the justice committee in the House of Representatives, voted 38-2 in favor of proceeding with the impeachment process.
According to the widely respected Nikkei Asian Review, Sereno said she is not ready to “throw in the towel” and said that her day will come during the Senate hearing. In order for the process to continue, both chambers of Congress will have to craft an impeachment complaint against Sereno. After the complaint is completed, it must receive at least a one-third approval vote from the lower house and then will be presented to the Senate which will decide whether she is guilty or not.
Sereno’s supporters blame her opposition against President Rodrigo Duterte as the reason for these allegations. Sereno denounced Duterte the moment he entered office, criticizing most of his domestic policies ,from his controversial drug war to martial law imposed in the Southern Philippines, and to the hero’s burial of the former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, due to his human rights abuses during his reign.
Sereno condemned Duterte for calling for the end of due process following his appearance on live television, associating politicians and other public figures with the Philippine’s drug problem. She voted against the implementation of martial law in Mindanao even though the rest of the Supreme Court passed the law. According to Felipe Villamor of the New York Times, Sereno’s supporters argue that the President’s allies organized this impeachment in order to “remove a thorn from his side.” Duterte has denied any role in Sereno’s impeachment, even though the lawyer that reported the original complaint has ties connecting him to the President.