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Philippines committee votes to impeach Supreme Court chief justice

Meanwhile government asks court to declare 600 alleged Maoists to be ‘terrorists’

A COMMITTEE of MPs in the Philippines voted overwhelmingly today to proceed with an impeachment case against the chief justice of the country’s Supreme Court.

The justice committee voted 38-2 to rule there was “probable cause” to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno based on 27 alleged acts, which a lawyer claimed amounted to “culpable violations” of the constitution, corruption, breach of public trust and other serious crimes.

Six of her fellow justices testified against her in the hearings that started in September, exposing rifts in the court.

Ms Sereno has vowed to fight the allegations.

The entire House of Representatives is to vote whether to impeach her in a few months. It is dominated by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has called for her removal.

“All kinds of lies, threats, harassment and bullying have been thrown my way, but I will not yield,” Ms Sereno said in a speech before local judges in Manila.

In another speech yesterday, she urged Filipinos to stand up to authoritarianism and threats to human rights, in an indirect criticism of Mr Duterte.

Meanwhile, the government has asked judges to declare 600 alleged Maoist guerillas as “terrorists,” which would allow it to monitor them closely, track their finances and deny them services.

The 600 include a UN special rapporteur, a former MP and four former Catholic priests.

Mr Duterte’s government said they were all members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

It includes CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, who have both lived in the Netherlands since the 1980s.

Mr Sison charged that “Duterte is engaged in a wild anti-communist witch-hunt.”


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