Impeachment case against Philippine chief justice to proceed

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine congressional committee on Thursday allowed an impeachment complaint against the chief justice to proceed a day after President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted her and an anti-graft agency official impeached.

The House justice committee, dominated by Duterte’s allies, voted 25 to 2 to find sufficient grounds to allow more extensive discussion of the complaint filed by a lawyer against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. The complaint cited 27 grounds for impeachment, including alleged corruption and culpable violation of the constitution.

Opposition lawmakers criticized the committee’s seeming rush to vote without even thoroughly discussing each allegation contained in the complaint.

Sereno has called for the complaint’s dismissal, calling the allegations totally false and “nothing short of an impeachment exercise based on fake news.”

Duterte earlier accused Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Morales of allowing themselves to be used to discredit his administration. Both officials have denied any wrongdoing.

He said Wednesday that he wanted to file a new impeachment complaint against Sereno aside from the pending one tackled Thursday by the House justice committee and also to file an impeachment case against Morales.

Without elaborating or offering any evidence, Duterte said Sereno did not declare some of her earnings as a lawyer in one past case. He also accused her of using expensive vehicles and staying in suites on foreign trips.

He said Morales’ anti-graft agency allowed the use of illegally obtained or fabricated information supposedly from the Anti-Money Laundering Council to begin an investigation into allegations Duterte kept undeclared wealth in past bank accounts.

Duterte has denied the allegations and has challenged the two officials to resign along with him and to open their bank accounts to scrutiny.

Morales and Sereno have denied any wrongdoing and rejected Duterte’s challenge.


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