MANILA – The Supreme Court of the Philippines overturned its Supreme Court on Friday and removed a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his brutal war on drugs, which left thousands dead.
Vote 8-6, Supreme Court Judge removed Supreme Judge Maria Lourdes Sereno, who approved a petition filed by the lawyer of the government, questioning the validity of her appointment on the grounds that she did not fully disclose her assets have.
Ms. Sereno continued to irritate Mr. Duterte's increasingly autocratic rule by questioning the validity of his list of public officialswho were considered drug suspects and rejected his declaration of martial law in the southern Philippines
Senator Risa Hontiveros, a backer by Mrs. Sereno, said the court had given up its independence and integrity by relieving the Supreme Court
"This is a black day for justice and the rule of law," said Ms. Hontiveros, accusing Mr. Duterte of undermining the constitution ". "The Supreme Court has fallen in the public eye and has fallen hard."
Thousands of supporters gathered in the streets protesting against a "blatant trick" attempt by Mr Duterte to undermine the judiciary's power to undermine the independence of the courts
. Sereno's dismissal is "a fascist raid of the judiciary, the last straw that would consolidate the control of the Duterte regime over all branches of the government," said Aaron Pedrosa, leader of the political coalition called Sanlakas.
He said, "Mr. Duterte" with his peers in Congress and the Judiciary to eliminate a dreadful critic who could hold the government in check.
Others warned of the worse consequences of the trial.
"We are now a heartbeat away from the death of our democracy," said Gio Tingson, spokesman for the leftist group Akbayan, who also joined the protest.
He said the decision "destroyed the constitutional process of impeachment and the system  The ruling came before a planned impeachment of Ms. Sereno by the Duterte-controlled 292-member House of Representatives, which was to charge the Supreme Court with corruption allegations she denied
Sereno becomes the first Supreme Judge, which was removed by a vote of their colleagues Chief Justice Renato Corona dismissed by legislators for similar allegations of corruption.
The first female judge, Ms. Sereno, 57, had the legality of Mr. Duterte's War on Drugs, which has killed thousands of people, according to human rights groups
Ms. Sereno did not attend any of Parliament's hearings against her, and with the court's removal of the court, this effort is likely to be in dispute. But she repeatedly questioned the basis for the impeachment charge and said that she had gone through the proper review process before taking her post.
The indictment was filed by a lawyer affiliated with politicians associated with Mr. Duterte. who personally accused her of corruption, maintained a lavish lifestyle and did not divulge her true fortune. Sereno could theoretically appeal for her fall to the Senate, but that would probably not be successful.
Harry Roque, a spokesman for Mr. Duterte, said Friday's verdict was final.
"The Supreme Court is the last arbiter of the law," he said. "The Supreme Court has spoken."
In March, the judge's colleagues called on Ms. Sereno to take a vacation while the impeachment charge was being processed, and she obeyed.
But she returned to the bank on Wednesday, surprising everyone and announcing that she would preside over Friday and abstain. Sereno was appointed in 2012 by Benigno S. Aquino III, predecessor of Mr Duterte, who took office in 2016 to stop the rampant crime of killing thousands of addicts.
As Chief Justice she publicly collided with Mr. Duterte questioning his so-called suspect list of drug suspects, which includes the names of 150 local officials, police and military officers, and judges. At least three mayors whom Mr. Duterte included in the list were later fatally executed in law enforcement actions. The police have defended these actions as legitimate. Sereno had warned the president about the list, and she expressed her concern in a letter that the president found disparaging.
It also advised judges who were on the list not to stand up themselves if an arrest warrant was not properly issued. A judge whose name was included was later discovered dead and asked questions about the accuracy of Mr Duterte's list.
The gap between the Supreme Judge and the President widened after Mrs Sereno voted against two of Mr Duterte. Duterte's signature initiatives – his military rule in the southern Philippines last year to defeat an Islamic state-bound group, and a directive that became a heroic burial for Ferdinand Marcos, the ousted dictator who was exiled in 1989 died to commit
Last month, Mr. Duterte described her as an "enemy" and urged Congress to accelerate her deportation.
"I draw your attention to the fact that I am now your enemy and you must be out of the highest court," said Mr. Duterte. "I will not hesitate to do what is in the best interests of my country, if it demands your enforced removal, I will do it."