The Palace on Monday urged Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to leave her post in order to spare the judiciary from greater damage an impeachment case could bring.
During a Malacañang press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that rather than being impeached, a resignation should be considered by the Chief Justice.
“I call upon Chief Justice Sereno to really consider resigning only to spare the institution from any further damage,” the Spokesman said.
He also said that he and the President share the same sentiments on the issue. “Of course, the President wants her removed, altogether, by all means. And, of course, like Andy Bautista, she could spare the Court from further damage by resigning.”
“I don’t think the judiciary can survive another decision that would remove an incumbent chief justice,” Roque added.
He was referring to the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached in December 2011. Corona was removed from his position because of failing to disclose his statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) to the public.
However, Roque clarified that his statement is a mere comment on the ‘impeachment process’ – not to be taken as a form of interference of the Executive branch to the Judiciary branch.
“The best way to protect the institution is to forego the trial altogether,” he said.
The newly-appointed Spokesman said that he was speaking as a “senior laywer and a law professor.”
Roque was asked to react to Sereno’s statement during her keynote address during the 8th International Conference on the Training of the Judiciary.
“Allow me, to remind everyone that the world has been seeing in many regions, a resurgence of political forces threatening and harassing the independence of the judiciary,” she said.
The Chief Justice added, “We note that in troubled times in the past, kings would demand that courts would pronounce their acts as legal, not because kings did not have the physical force to impose their will because they had, but rather the kings wanted their acts to have the force of moral legitimacy.”
Sereno said that this moral legitimacy was perceived to come from the courts of law, indicating to a certain extent that the judiciary in those parts of the world and those times in history had a measure of credibility that politicians wanted to appropriate for whatever political purpose they deem important.
“The delicate balance require to properly evaluate conflicting positions and competing interest can only be sustained by a wise and mature judiciary that is unafraid to face the challenges of increasingly changing landscapes,” she added.