Philippine high court hears arguments to remove Duterte ‘enemy’ Sereno

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno appeared at a Supreme Court session in the city of Baguio, to defend herself against Solicitor-General Jose Calida’s petition. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2018

Philippine high court hears arguments to remove Duterte ‘enemy’ Sereno

MANILA: The Philippine Supreme Court began hearing arguments on Tuesday on a government bid to invalidate the appointment of the court’s top judge, whom President Rodrigo Duterte is calling an “enemy” who needs to be removed.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s fellow high court judges will decide on merit of arguments for and against a petition, referred to as a “quo warranto,” by the government’s chief lawyer, for alleged violations in the appointment process.
The embattled judge, the Philippines’ first woman chief justice, is facing challenges on several fronts and is on a leave of absence to prepare for possible impeachment proceedings.
Duterte makes no secret of his dislike of Sereno.
Sereno appeared at a Supreme Court session in the city of Baguio, to defend herself against Calida’s petition.
Dozens of her supporters, holding streamers and denouncing some of the judges, held a protest outside the court. Nearby, anti-Sereno protesters called for her resignation.
Sereno has voted against several of his controversial proposals, including extending martial law on a restive island and allowing late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in a cemetery for national heroes, but Duterte denies instigating two attempts to remove her.
Sereno has until now refrained from blaming Duterte but directly questioned his intentions in a speech on Monday.
“Mr President, if you have no hand in this, why did Solicitor-General Jose Calida, who reports to you, file the quo warranto?” she asked.
“Surely, you must explain this unconstitutional act.”
Within a few hours a furious Duterte lashed out at Sereno and indicated he was ready to use his influence over the legislature to get rid of her.
“I’m putting you on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,” he told reporters before heading to an Asian leaders’ forum in China.
“I will see to it. And after that, I will request Congress go to the impeachment right away.”
The nearly 300-seat house returns from a recess next month and will convene for a plenary vote on the impeachment complaint, which accuses Sereno of failure to fully declare her earnings.
If passed, an impeachment trial will be conducted in the upper house, with the 22 sitting Senators as judges.
A spokesman for Sereno said she was eager to prove in court she had done nothing wrong.

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.