Justice Qazi Isa questions CJP's decision of reconstitution of bench

Justice Qazi Isa questions CJP's decision of reconstitution of bench

Referring to a development at the Supreme Court Peshawar registry when a three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, hearing a human rights case pertaining to hospital waste, was dissolved after he (Justice Isa) raised objection, Justice Isa in a three-page note said that "had he not objected to the procedure of entertaining the human rights application by the chief justice, it would have weighed heavily on his conscience".

"We are hopeful therefore that due process will be preserved and any motion for reconsideration given utmost respect and attention", said the JRI.

Before the vote, dozens of Sereno's supporters held a vigil outside the court in the capital, Manila, demanding that the petition be thrown out and that she face trial in the Senate.

He observed that "once the Supreme Court is satisfied that these two conditions (public importance and Fundamental Rights) are involved then the question of enforcement of the relevant Fundamental Rights arises".

"It is a sad day", said Jojo Lacanilao, Sereno's spokesperson, who suggested that she may appeal the decision, although most observers note that as Duterte's control tightents, the likelihood of a fair hearing is slim.

Sereno was given 10 days by the remaining top judges to explain away vaguely-worded allegations including "casting aspersions and ill-motive to the members of the Supreme Court". Everyday, there is a growing list of victims of extrajudicial killings, abductions, illegal arrests, military looting and other human rights abuses under Duterte's Mindano martial law, his reign of military power across the country through his Oplan Kapayapaan war of suppression, and his "war of drug syndicates".

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Once an independent judge like Sereno is ousted, "there will be no more balance of power".

"Even if the chief justice has failed our expectations, quo warranto, as a process, to oust an impeachable officer and sitting member of the Supreme Court is a legal abomination", Leonen pointed out. "Let's continue to spread the message of democracy and reason".

Sereno is the latest victim of Duterte's drive to establish his dictatorship.

Opposition politicians denounced Sereno's removal. She could then make her own prophecy come true, that a barrage of quo warranto cases will henceforth tie up the judiciary in a tangle of back-and-forths, by questioning any Duterte appointee's qualifications and demanding proof of their SALN.

The two were both candidates for the position of Chief Justice, which has been vacated when former Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached in 2012.

Global rights groups and local critics have accused the 73-year-old Duterte of moving toward authoritarianism after declaring martial law in the south amid a major attack by pro-Islamic State group militants last year.