Hours after the Supreme Court confirmed her ousting, former chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno has announced a plan to lead a “people’s movement”.
In a speech to her supporters at the University of the Philippines, Sereno slammed President Duterte as a “blasphemous, self-styled dictator” who weakened the country’s democratic institutions.
In her speech today (Tuesday, June 19), she said that despite losing her position as the country’s top magistrate, she would continue to “defend laws and institutions” and “uphold the dignity of Filipinos”.
“On the birth anniversary of Jose Rizal, the unity we have forged these last months will be the foundation of genuine people’s movement that will hold government accountable for its actions and help enlighten Filipinos regarding important national issues the first of which is charter change,” she said to applause.
She also accused the president of unleashing viciousness on many groups such as the poor, women, the religious and indigenous people.
“We’re in no mood of jokes, for flip-flopping, for lies, for propaganda, for improvisational governance,” she said.
“We are fighting the viciousness the president has unleashed against the poor, the women, the religious, the Lumads [indigenous tribes], the workers whom he has directly or indirectly branded as his enemies.
“We will continue to live the law and fight for our democracy. We are rising. We the people.”
Sereno said that the weakening of the country’s democratic institutions started with Duterte as he attacked different offices and their heads.
“The responsibility for the weakening of rule of law is his (Duterte’s),” she said.
Sereno warned Duterte that he would have his own day of reckoning as the truth would eventually come out.
She also stressed that she would continue opposing some of Duterte’s anti-people’s policies such as his position on the South China Sea, his war on drugs that have killed thousands of mostly urban poor Filipinos and attempts to change the Constitution.
In April, the president declared himself to be an “enemy” of Sereno. However, he has long denied any hand in her sacking.
Sereno had angered the president by criticising the lack of due process in the war on drugs.
Just hours before her speech today, the Supreme Court upheld its earlier decision to grant the ‘quo warranto’ petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida that questioned her legal right to hold office.
As well as confirming the removal of Sereno as chief justice, the decision also starts the 90-day process to appoint her successor.