Tag Archives: The Philippines

The Philippines: Lawyer group: Duterte tirades undermine checks and balances in gov’t

October 13, 2017


An alliance of lawyers denounced on Friday President Rodrigo Duterte’s “brazen assaults” against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, saying these attacks “deliberately undermine” the independence of their respective institutions.

The Alternative Law Groups (ALG) said the President’s tirades and the moves to unseat the two officials are a threat in maintaining the checks and balances in the government.

“We, the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), denounce the brazen assaults against democratic institutions of President Rodrigo Duterte, which undermine the independent bodies mandated by the Constitution to maintain the system of checks and balances in the government,” the group said in a statement.

“These acts deliberately undermine the independence of the institutions whose duties primarily consist in upholding public trust by cleansing the government’s ranks of graft and corruption and maintaining checks and balances so that tyranny would not arise from any branch of the government again,” it added.

Duterte has criticized Sereno and Morales, who have been vocal against his violent campaign against illegal drugs several times and on other different issues.

He had criticized the chief justice for “sitting” on the temporary restraining order against two provisions of the Reproductive Health Law, and the Ombudsman for handing down “selective justice.”






The Philippines: House panel finds sufficient ground to impeach Sereno

October 5, 2017

The House Committee on Justice, voting 25-2, found sufficient ground to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who has been accused of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.

This means the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon and which the same panel foundsufficient in form and substance on September 13 will move forward. The committee will also determine whether there is probable cause to impeach Sereno.

Those findings will be included in a committee report on the complaint.

Members of the House of Representatives will vote in plenary on whether to approve or reject the justice committee’s report.

If at least a third of the members of the House — 98 of 292 members — vote to approve the committee report, this will then constitute the Articles of Impeachment and the chief justice is impeached.

The Articles of Impeachment will be transmitted to the Senate, which will try the case as an impeachment court.










The Philippines: Duterte vows to impeach chief justice, prosecutor

October 5, 2017

Duterte vows to impeach chief justice, prosecutor

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Wednesday to have the Supreme Court chief justice and a special prosecutor impeached, as he defended himself against corruption allegations he said were aimed at ousting him.

Duterte accused Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of corruption and alleged the ombudsman, Conchita Morales, was conspiring with opposition figures to bring down his government.

Morales’s office has been investigating allegations that Duterte had secret bank accounts that recorded millions of dollars he embezzled while a long-time mayor of the southern city of Davao.

“In the end, to their sorrow, they will discover that there is no such thing as that amount,” Duterte said of the alleged embezzled millions, telling reporters his net worth was just 40 million pesos (around $784,000).

Duterte insisted the allegations were based on fabricated bank account records stolen from the central bank’s Anti-Money Laundering Council.





The Philippines: NBI to probe killing of Infanta assistant fiscal

September 30, 2017

NBI to probe killing of Infanta assistant fiscal

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the killing of assistant provincial prosecutor Reymund F. Luna in Infanta, Quezon province.

Aguirre on Friday issued Department Order No. 646, directing NBI Director Dante Gierran to investigate and build up a case on the death of Luna.

“The NBI is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct an investigation and case build-up over the killing of Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Reymund F. Luna and if evidence so warrants, to file appropriate charges thereon,” the justice chief said in his order dated September 29.

Luna was shot dead by two unidentified men on a motorcycle in Barangay Tongohin in Infanta on Friday morning. He was the seventh prosecutor to be attacked since October 2016.

Last Sept. 2, Pablito A. Gahol, former Mandaluyong City prosecutor and chairman of Barangay Mauway in the city, was shot dead. In July, Rizal assistant provincial prosecutor Maria S. Ronatay, was ambushed and gunned down by riding-in-tandem men.

In February, Caloocan City prosecutor Diosdado Azarcon was shot thrice in the head by a man on a motorcycle outside his house in Caloocan as he was on his way to work. That same month, Surigao City prosecutor Manuel Tesiorna was attacked.

On Jan. 11, Quezon City prosecutor Noel Mingoa was shot at close range outside a restaurant along Commonwealth Ave., while Mati City prosecutor Rolando Acido was shot dead outside the Mati City Hall of Justice on Oct. 26 last year.





The Philippines: Aquino: impeach raps vs Sereno, Morales a ‘necessary step in perfecting institutions’

September 21, 2017

Former President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday said impeachment cases against his appointees Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales were “a necessary step in perfecting institutions.”

“I am sure they’ll be able to defend themselves,” Aquino told reporters on the sidelines of an event at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Thursday.

Last week, the House of Representatives had ruled that an impeachment complaint against Sereno was sufficient in form and substance.

Lorenzo Gadon, who used to lawyer for former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, filed the complaint against the chief magistrate over her alleged failure to make truthful declarations in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), among other allegations.

Meanwhile, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption said earlier this month that they were preparing documents for an impeachment complaint against Morales.

“Although I have my opinions about as to their guilt or not, we have to ensure that the rights of everybody are respected and that they are able to present their case and heard by a fair body,” said Aquino, who himself faced several impeachment attempts during his term.

Aquino appointed Sereno as the high court’s 24th chief magistrate in 2012, while he named Morales Ombudsman in 2011.














The Philippines: Leni warns Congress vs abusing power to impeach

September 16, 2017

Leni Robredo

Congress should not abuse its powers of impeachment to scare and intimidate the voices of the opposition, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Thursday.

“Impeachment is one of the processes in a democracy, so let us listen. But in my view, it should not be used to incite fear. It should not be used to punish people who are boldly making their voices heard against the government,” she said.

“We hope that the impeachment process will not be abused,” Robredo said in an interview in Balangkayan Eastern Samar, a transcript of which was sent to Manila reporters.

She was reacting to the decision of the House justice committee finding one of two impeachment complaints against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno sufficient in form and substance, and proceeding with the hearing of charges against her.






The Philippines: Solons find impeachment complaint vs Sereno in order

September 14, 2017

The first of two impeachment complaints against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno passed the twin tests of sufficiency in form and substance on Wednesday, setting the stage for further committee deliberations at the House of Representatives.

The House justice committee, voting 30-4, found enough basis to hear the charges against Sereno, including not declaring her real wealth, buying a luxury car with government funds and making questionable decisions without consulting her fellow magistrates.

But the same committee junked the second complaint by a vote of 28-5 due to flawed wording in the verification document.