Respect Sereno's refusal to resign, says ex-chief justice

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. urged critics to respect the refusal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign.

In a statement on Monday, he said he was alarmed over the calls of judges and Supreme Court employees for Sereno to step down from her post.

"I wish to express my deep and profound concern over the apparent politicization of the Judiciary. I refer particularly to recent calls from certain judges and court employees for the Chief Justice to resign immediately and not await for the results of the impeachment process or even the quo warranto," he said.

He called the move "condemning without evidence."

"(It is) judging before hearing....It is resort to the rule of men," he said.

Members of the Philippine Judges' Association, Philippine Assembly of Lawyer Employees, Philippine Association of Court Employees, and Sandiganbayan Employees' Association joined the Supreme Court Employees' Association on Monday in their call to urge Sereno to resign. They said the impeachment proceedings against Sereno are affecting the integrity of the Supreme Court.

Sereno is scheduled to face an impeachment trial before the Senate in May after the House Justice Committee found probable cause to impeach her on March 2.

She is also facing a quo warranto case questioning the validity of her appointment as chief magistrate.

Davide said the resignation call openly disregards due process as it applies "additional political pressure" on Sereno, when judges should instead be helping her uphold her right to a fair trial.

"If there is anything that will destroy the faith of our people in the Judiciary, it is the perception that judges themselves are unwilling to await the results of a constitutional proceeding or a statutory process," the former Chief Justice said.

Davide, who served as Chief Justice from 1998 to 2005, said the judges and Supreme Court employees should respect Sereno's rights to fairness and rule of law.

"I fully agree with her appeal that all members and employees of the Judiciary should not involve themselves in the political fray," he said.

Sereno is accused of violating the Constitution, corruption, and other high crimes which are valid grounds for impeachment under the Constitution.

The Chief Justice on Monday reiterated she will not step down.

"Out of love for the judiciary, I must continue my course. I will not resign," she said during a show of support of several civil groups.

Sereno said if she resigns, other high-ranking officials may be the next victims of those in power.

She added groups who called for her resignation only "succumbed to the pressure."

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.