Top Women Getting 'Squashed' by Philippines' Duterte

by Melissa Hemingway, staff writer,

Over 100,000 Filipino members of The RINJ Foundation are females. Their voices like most members are silent until a crisis dawns. That’s the case in the Philippines which many say is in crisis.

On Saturday morning, May 12, members say they woke up to a Philippines wherein the last voice of sober second-thought collapsed. We are talking about the removal of a woman chief justice of the Supreme Court labelled as an enemy and removed from office by the order of the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. That’s less of a problem than the way it was done.

Filipinos have much to fear from high levels of violence and early death, but women in particular face the worst crisis in the country’s history. They are marginalized and treated as a commodity to be either used or disposed.

Millions of women who work as house servants outside the Philippines contributing 10% of the Gross Domestic Product of that country suffer horrific abuses abroad in a quasi master-slave work environment, then come home to find out that their little girls have been raped or even murdered in a few dozen cases.

Incest, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and HIV-infection are growing crimes against females in the Philippines.

Femicide, misogyny and antifeminism ooze from the Malacanang Presidential Palace to the patriarchal barangay body politique in 42,000+ municipalities of the poverty-inflicted provinces of the Philippines.

A Lame-Duck Elected Vice President Under Seige

Toronto, May 14, 2018 —  Philippines’ elected Vice-President Leni Robredo  has been sidelined by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte  following her criticism of extra judicial killings in the Philippines, ordered by Duterte.  She is not a member of the cabinet and has no role in government.

VP Robredo is currently under attack by the Duterte-sponsored Ferdinand Marcos  Jr. (son of ousted dictator Marcos who ran against Robredo in 2o16) . The Presidential Electoral Tribunal  (hah hah hah) is doing a recount of ballots and civil litigation against Robredo who defeated Marcos in the 2016 polls by 263,473 votes.

Duterte has said that if he can’t slide ‘Bong Bong’ Marcos into the VP chair in this way with a recount, he will appoint Marcos as Prime Minister under a new government system. Marcos will then become the heir-apparent to the Duterte throne should Duterte decide to leave politics or die. Sinister things are afoot.

Today the extreme irony of all this is that Duterte only needs to get one of his minions to file a petition in the Duterte-controlled Supreme Court and Leni Robredo is out in a moment. I will explain that later in the matter of Chief Justice Maria Lourde Sereno who was ousted illegally on Friday.

The RINJ Foundation Women selected Leni Robredo ( Maria Leonor “Leni” Santo Tomas Robredo nee Gerona, born April 23, 1964) as 2016 Hero Woman Fighting for the Safety of Women and Children in respect for her initiative in challenging extra judicial killings, especially of women and small children. Since that time we have often noted her resilience and tactfulness in maintaining a peace. She has little effect in governance of the Philippines but she has stayed the course and remains intact despite hair-raising attacks by the most foul and scurilous men on Earth. Nobel Peace Prize candidate? Probably should be such.

The contentious video of Leni Robredo

Senator Leila de Lima, Political Prisoner or Drug Lord?

Senator Leila de Lima, on 24 February ‘celebrated(?)‘ her first full year in jail. Her quarrel with Duterte went back to his days as Mayor of Davao City where Duterte admits, death squads and occasionally he alone participated in the extrajudicial killings of an estimated 1,000 persons. De Lima had led an inquiry into this horror with little effect except to earn the commitment of vengeance from Duterte. De Lima is also the woman who was most outspoken on the current spate of extrajudicial killings since 1 July 2016, for which Mr. Duterte is now subjected to a “preliminary examination” by the International Criminal Court. The consensus is that Duterte hates de Lima and that’s what ended her freedom.

Duterte had publicly asked de Lima to “hang herself” then ordered Vitaliano Aguirre II, then Duterte’s Justice Minister (he has since fallen from grace and vanished after dismissing the cases of real drug lords Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Impal, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito and many others) to come up with a case against de Lima.

Vitaliano Aguirre II as he likes to be called did  shoddy work and the de Lima case is dragging for some 16 months, still going nowhere while the woman Senator suffers in a jail cell. She allegedly orchestrated a sophisticated drug trafficking ring instead of doing her job as justice secretary during the 2010-2015  administration of Benigno Aquino. She denies the allegations, of course.

In other words, how can that be (crime against humanity) when your war is only against those drug lords, drug addicts, drug pushers. You consider them humanity? I do not! – Duterte’s Justice Minister Aguirre told reporters in January 2017.

Yet he still allowed Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Impal, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito and many others to go free even after police had caught them red-handed. (Inquirer)

Photo: PhilStar - Boy Santos
Photo: PhilStar – Boy Santos

Supreme Court Falls as Duterte Squashes Another Top Woman

Philippines Solicitor General Jose Calida on 5 March 2018 filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court of the Philippines (under direct orders from Philippines President Duterte) to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourde Sereno from her position. Calida himself is currently facing investigation of alleged violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Theretofore Chief Justice Sereno  had voted against some of Duterte’s processes and had been critical of undemocratic and non-rule-of-law actions of the President, such as extra judicial killings. (See ABS/CBN News: Duterte says he will make sure Sereno will be out of the Supreme Court.)

The process of quo warranto appears erroneous for recall as the convoluted set of Philippines laws arrives at a consensus that removal of President, Vice President and Supreme Court Justices can only be done by impeachment within the elected legislative bodies and not by an appointed body like the Supreme Court panel.

Since the May 11 removal of a Chief Justice by an ad hoc political process, the Supreme Court becomes a puppet of the President but concomitantly has precedented process for arbitrary removal of both the President and the Vice-President by merely responding to any petitioner who wants to say that neither is qualified by reason of omission or commission of administrative errors.

Philippines Supreme Court Chief Justice removed from Supreme Court illegally according to PH law professors and general law society, when Mr. Duterte declared her his “enemy”.

On 11 May, the Supreme Court voted 8-6 to remove the Chief Justice. This was accomplished politically with four appointee judges of Rodrigo Duterte, Frances Jardeleza whose appointment to the high court Chief Justice Sereno had opposed in 2014 because of issues related to Jardeleza’s alleged involvement in the challenge to China over the Convention of the Law of Seas violation of that country.

The fiery Jardeleza attack on Sereno continued for some time.  Additionally Calida had the vote of three Duterte supporters who had been appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: Lucas Bersamin, Diosdado Peralta, and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro who apparently once said to Sereno, “I will never forgive you for accepting the chief justiceship.”

Chief Justice Sereno had argued for the recusal of Associate Justices De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam. That effort was to no avail.

How they Voted

Associate Justices Voting Yes To Calida’s Petition for Removal of Sereno

  • Samuel Martires
    Appointed on March 2, 2017 by President Rodrigo Duterte
  • Alexander Gesmundo
    Appointed on August 14, 2017 by President Rodrigo Duterte
  • Andres Reyes, Jr.
    Appointed on August 14, 2017 by President Rodrigo Duterte
  • Noel Tijam
    Appointed on March 8, 2017 by President Rodrigo Duterte
  • Teresita Leonardo-De Castro
    Appointed on December 4, 2007 by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
  • Diosdado Peralta
    Appointed on January 13, 2009 by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
  • Lucas Bersamin
    Appointed on April 3, 2009 by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
  • Francis Jardeleza
    Appointed on August 20, 2014 by President Benigno Aquino III

Associate Justices Voting No To Calida’s Petition for Removal of Sereno

  • Antonio Carpio
    Appointed on October 25, 2001 by President Gloria Macagapagal Arroyo
  • Marvic Leonen
    Appointed on November 21, 2012 by President Benigno Aquino III
  • Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa
    Appointed on January 22, 2016 by President Benigno Aquino III
  • Presbitero Velasco, Jr.
    Appointed on March 31, 2006 by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
  • Estela Perlas-Bernabe
    Appointed on September 16, 2011 by President Benigno Aquino III
  • Mariano del Castillo
    Appointed on July 29, 2009 by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Calida has torpedoed own attempt to oust Sereno, says CJ spokesperson
Solicitor General Jose Calida unwittingly torpedoed his attempt to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno by admitting that she had indeed filed statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) when she was still a law professor, one of the top magistrate’s spokespersons on Saturday said.

Church groups in 10-day vigil for ‘democracy’s death’ for Sereno ouster
A report on Super Radyo dzBB said that members of Gomburza, a cause-oriented group of priests, nuns, and brothers headed by activist “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes and the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), placed a coffin symbolizing the death of democracy at the center of their vigil Friday night.

Specific Legal References on the Sereno Case

  1. Philippines-Supreme Court decision on Calido quo-warranto removing Chief Justice Maria-Lourdes-Sereno
  2. The-Philippines-Rules-of-Civil-Procedure-1997

International Criminal Court Photo: ICC

Duterte Threatens ICC Prosecutor

Early last Fall International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (picture above) said perpetrators of alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines could face prosecution. Then on 8 February,  Prosecutor Bensouda launched a preliminary examination which could be a prelude to Duterte’s indictment.

“Any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court.”

Background on the ICC Preliminary Examination of Possible Crimes Committed Against Humanity

Duterte has threatened that he will interfere with any investigator of the ICC and that he intends to arrest Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda as he did de Lima.

Agnès S. Callamard

Agnès S. Callamard is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). She carries a fair amount of clout everywhere else in the world but Duterte says he will assault her. Actually he has used some vulgarities we just won’t repeat.

Agnes Callamard  says Duterte has created a climate of fear and insecurity, feeding impunity and undermining the constitutional fabrics of the country. Duterte says he will slap her if she tries to investigate Human Rights violations in the Philippines.

Duterte’s threats are not hollow and his efforts have led to the cold-blooded murder of many thousands of Filipinos.