Robredo on final Sereno ouster: 'Defend what remains of democracy'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday, June 19, urged Filipinos to strengthen their resolve to protect “what remains of our democracy” after the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed the ouster of former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The Vice President made the call in a statement on the High Court's final vote to affirm its approval of the quo warranto petition that rendered Sereno’s appointment in office as invalid.

“On this darkest of days, we must find within ourselves an unquenchable fire of resolve. We must stand firm for a nation where law is an instrument for achieving fairness and justice, and not a weapon for justifying spite and legitimizing oppression,” said Robredo.

“We must commit ourselves to defend what remains of our democracy, and to rebuild what has been cast down. We will remember today. And in that remembrance, we will find the strength to fight on,” she added.

The Vice President had called the SC’s earlier decision to favor Sereno’s ouster via the unprecedented quo warranto route as a move that “brazenly tramples on” the Constitution

Robredo had also previously shown her support for Sereno by saying during the Free the Courts forum held at the University of the Philippines that she would “do everything in [her] power to right this wrong.”

On Tuesday, the Vice President urged the people not to yield to "despair" following the SC ruling.

"Many of us will, without doubt, feel rage or grief – or perhaps a mixture of both – at the finality of this thrust into the heart of our Constitutional system. Many will say that justice is well and truly dead, with the Constitution nonchalantly cast aside by those who should have been its foremost guardians," she said.

"And that rage, and that grief, are warranted, for this is indeed a dark moment for our republic and all of us who aspire for the rule of law. But in our rage and grief, we cannot give in to despair, for this is but one of the many battles that we must fight for our democracy, and for the people it is intended to serve," she added.

 Robredo said public vigilance should "now extend to other impending assaults on our Constitution and laws, as well as the freedoms they were enacted to protect."

“Whether these involve uncontested encroachments against our sovereignty, the unchecked plunder of public coffers, the calculated stifling of the voice of the sovereign people, or the brazen taking of lives and livelihood, we must draw the line and do our utmost to defend it,” the Vice President said.

Robredo had earlier spoken against the Duterte administration's "soft" stance  on China's actions in the South China Sea which, she said, compromised Philippine sovereignty and the livelihood of Filipino fishermen being harassed by the China Coast Guard in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. 

Read the Vice President's full statement here:

Today, 8 members of the highest court in the land cemented into jurisprudence a ruling widely decried – within and outside the legal profession – as unjust, both in its substance as well as the manner in which it was reached.

Many of us will, without doubt, feel rage or grief – or perhaps a mixture of both – at the finality of this thrust into the heart of our Constitutional system. Many will say that justice is well and truly dead, with the Constitution nonchalantly cast aside by those who should have been its foremost guardians.

And that rage, and that grief, are warranted, for this is indeed a dark moment for our republic and all of us who aspire for the rule of law. But in our rage and grief, we cannot give in to despair, for this is but one of the many battles that we must fight for our democracy, and for the people it is intended to serve. 

Our vigilance must now extend to other impending assaults on our Constitution and laws, as well as the freedoms they were enacted to protect. Whether these involve uncontested encroachments against our sovereignty, the unchecked plunder of public coffers, the calculated stifling of the voice of the sovereign people, or the brazen taking of lives and livelihood, we must draw the line and do our utmost to defend it.

On this darkest of days, we must find within ourselves an unquenchable fire of resolve. We must stand firm for a nation where law is an instrument for achieving fairness and justice, and not a weapon for justifying spite and legitimizing oppression. We must commit ourselves to defend what remains of our democracy, and to rebuild what has been cast down.

We will remember today. And in that remembrance, we will find the strength to fight on.

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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