Duterte not behind Sereno ouster-Panelo

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DAVAO CITY (May 13) —Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said it is not the character of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to dip his fingers in affairs of government agencies,  specifically- the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

“Alam mo, out of character sa Presidente ang nakikialam diyan sa ganiyang bagay. Unang-una, ni hindi nga siya nakikialam sa kaniyang mga departamento, sa kaniyang mga Cabinet members (You know, it is out of character for the President to meddle when it comes to things like that. Firstly, he doesn’t even interfere with how his Cabinet members run their departments),” Panelo said in a radio interview.

Panelo, meanwhile, said that the ouster is not yet final since Sereno still had the chance to file a motion for reconsideration (MR).

“Under the law, she is entitled to file an MR considering na masyadong dikit iyong botohan, 8-6, eh magbago lang ng isip iyong isang Justice, di tabla na. So may pag-asa pa si Justice Sereno (considering the voting results are so close 8-6, if one justice had changed his or her mind, it would have been a tie. So, Justice Sereno still has hope),” Panelo said.

He also pointed out that “there are as many opinions as there are lawyers.”

“Baka pagka-MR mo naliwanagan iyong isa, oh di biglang nagbago. Kasi mayroong mga instances na nagbabago ang Korte Suprema (Maybe if you sibmit your MR, one justice might see things in a different light and change his or her mind. Because there are instances that the Supreme Court changes its mind),” he added.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier implored the public to respect the decision granting the quo warranto petition to remove Sereno.

“The SC is the final arbiter of the law. The High Court has spoken. Let us respect its decision granting the quo warranto petition as the proper remedy and the quo warranto petition ruling against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno,” Roque said in a statement.

On Friday, the SC en banc voted, 8-6, in favor of the quo warranto petition filed against Sereno by Solicitor General Jose Calida on March. 5, 2018.

Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr, and Alexander Gesmundo voted in favor of quo warranto petition.

The oppositors include Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas Bernabe, Marvic Leonen, and Benjamin Caguioa.

Sereno is the first Chief Justice to be ousted through quo waranto petition. She is also the first woman to hold the country’s top post in the judiciary.

She was appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2012. -PNA

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