CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will not be pressured into resigning from the Supreme Court despite the attacks on her at the impeachment hearing in the House of Representatives that have gone “below the belt,” her lawyer said Sunday.
Jojo Lacanilao criticized what he described as the attempts to put Sereno in a bad light, including her supposed lack of support from her colleagues in the Supreme Court.
“Officials of Congress have already asked her to resign. We feel it’s below the belt. This is just a squeeze play for her to resign,” Lacanilao said.
He said Sereno will continue to fight for judicial independence.
“We will ask Congress to prove any complaint that they have and [we will face them] in the Senate,” Lacanilao said.
He made the statement even as House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Congress will find time to transmit the articles of impeachment in March in a bid to oust Sereno despite its tight schedules.
“Maybe by March, that [articles of impeachment] would already be there [Senate]. Before we go into a break, we are probably done with it,” he said.
He slammed Sereno for allegedly trying to preempt the actions of Congress instead of facing the impeachment proceedings.
“Just wait. She can never dictate to us. The problem here is, she does not want to attend [the proceedings] and face the truth.”
But Lacanilao said the testimonies of at least six incumbent supreme Court justices had no bearing on the impeachment case because those were purely personal opinions and not grounds to remove Sereno from office.
“Most of the things they have said are disagreements with the chief justice on how the rules of the Supreme Court would be interpreted. Some of them are complaints about management or maybe leadership style,” Lacanilao said.
Some of Sereno’s colleagues were not happy when she was appointed chief justice as she leapfrogged other senior associate justices to become the head of the judiciary for 18 years, or until she reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, he said.
Lacanilao said some people were out to destroy Sereno.
He said it was unfortunate that some of her colleagues were allowing themselves to be part of the process threatening the independence of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government.