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Catholic lay group backs Philippine chief justice

Philippine Council of the Laity joins chorus of organizations voicing support for Sereno, who faces impeachment complaint

Updated: December 12, 2017 04:55 AM GMT
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Catholic lay group backs Philippine chief justice

Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Photo courtesy of the Supreme Court)

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An influential Catholic lay group in Manila has come out to express support for the country's embattled chief justice who faces an impeachment complaint in Congress.

The Philippine Council of the Laity vouched for the "integrity" of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno whom the group described as "unsullied by any hint of corruption."

The group joins a growing number of organizations, including other church groups, coming out to back the country's top judge.

In a statement, the group said Sereno's court decisions demonstrate an uncommon "probity, impartiality, and intellectual acumen" worthy of her position.

The church-based organization noted that the court official accomplished "unprecedented reforms" in the judiciary that ensure transparency and accountability. 

"She is not only a woman of principles but a leader of action as well," the group said in a statement noted by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity.

The council warned that attacks against the chief justice would create a "chilling effect" on present and future justices that will eventually weaken the Supreme Court.

"A truly democratic state cannot exist without a stable and independent judiciary, which ironically happens to be the weakest among the three co-equal branches of government," read the group's statement.

On Dec. 11, three justices of the Supreme Court appeared before a congressional investigative body to air their grievances against Sereno. They accused the chief justice of irregularities and delays in handling cases.

Earlier this month, Evangelical church groups formed a coalition to support Sereno. They called the impeachment proceedings an "assault on the independence of the judiciary."

On Oct. 5, a congressional body found "sufficient grounds" to proceed with hearing an impeachment complaint against the chief justice.

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