The Philippine government’s legal counsel asked the Supreme Court on Monday to expel the chief justice for allegedly not declaring her assets, in a new attempt to remove the nation’s judicial leader.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom President Rodrigo Duterte has long wanted to remove, went on leave from the 15-member court last week. That came after 13 of her colleagues, including some who have publicly criticized her, agreed that she should take an indefinite leave amid an impeachment attempt against her in the House of Representatives.
The House, which is dominated by Duterte’s allies, is expected to impeach her this month based on 27 allegations filed by a lawyer, including her alleged failure to file her annual statements of assets and liabilities as required by law. If she’s impeached, the Senate will form itself into an impeachment court.
Last year, Duterte said he wanted Sereno and a top anti-graft prosecutor impeached and accused them of allowing themselves to be used to discredit his administration.
Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a petition before the Supreme Court justices questioning Sereno’s eligibility for her job after she allegedly failed to file a required annual statement of assets and liabilities 10 times.
“The constitution insists that a member of the judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity and independence,” Calida told reporters. “Unfortunately, for respondent Sereno, she flunked the test of integrity when she failed to file.”