President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, May 16, denied any involvement in the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by the Supreme Court (SC).
Voting 8 to 6, the SC granted the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against Sereno due to her supposed failure to submit all her Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALNs) to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) when she applied for the post in 2012.
Duterte vowed he will resign if anyone could prove that he had a hand in the removal of Sereno.
“If there’s one congresswoman or congressman or a single justice who will say I talked to them, I can guarantee you I will resign,” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang.
Sereno, following the release of the ruling, questioned Duterte’s involvement in the ouster attempts against her.
Duterte would then proclaim himself the female head magistrate’s “enemy” for her accusations, asking the House to hasten Sereno’s ouster.
“I told Sereno I was not involved in it. Ask anyone. I never lifted a finger,” he said.
Duterte also denied that he ordered Calida to to file the quo warranto petition against Sereno, saying Calida’s move may be related to his being a staunch supporter of the Marcos family.
“It was his [Calida] job to find faults. Hindi ko inaano, sabi ko, ‘I do not order Cabinet members’… Whatever he thinks that it is his duty to perform, hindi ako nakikialam,” Duterte said.
He also said it would be “out of character of him” to run after adversaries.
“Hindi ako nanghahabol ng tao, he said. “Kaya ngayon I challenge everybody and anybody.
Magturo ng isang congresswoman or isang congressman o senador or Justice ng Supreme Court na nilapitan ko o maski na abogado lang naman kung wala na kayong makitang iba. Hindi naman ako nakikialam.”
Sereno, the first woman and youngest to hold the top post in the judiciary, would have also served the longest as she was supposed to stay in her post until her retirement at age 70 in 2030.
She was appointed by Aquino in 2012 following the ouster through impeachment of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona, an appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.