Philippines CJ warns of threat to democracy

This article is more than 12 months old

MANILA The chief justice of the Philippines' Supreme Court warned yesterday that an attempt by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte to impeach her could threaten the country's democracy.

Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno gave the warning as legislators in the House of Representatives prepared to begin impeachment hearings against her following a threat by Mr Duterte that Ms Sereno would be forced out.

Ms Sereno has been one of the few voices willing to criticise Mr Duterte for allegedly disregarding due process and attacking other branches of government as part of his brutal anti-crime campaign.

He in turn vowed last month to impeach Ms Sereno for alleged corruption. His allies in Congress will begin hearings on the impeachment complaint this week.

"This is getting to be larger than myself. This is no longer just about me. It is about democracy," Ms Sereno told broadcaster ABS-CBN.

She said the charges against her were fabricated and warned that the judiciary would be under threat if the Duterte government was allowed to pursue her.

She asked: "Is the judiciary safe? And if the judiciary is not safe, is democracy safe? Are the constitutional rights of people still assured?"