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Gabriela to Duterte: Keep hands off judiciary

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The head of a progressive women's organization on Thursday told President Rodrigo Duterte to "keep his hands off the judiciary," rejecting what she called was a scheme to use Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's impeachment as a "weapon."

In a press statement a week before International Women's Day on March 8, Gabriela Secretary General Joms Salvador warned of Sereno's "rushed removal," amid calls for her to resign and the recent confusion over her leave of absence pending a verdict on the impeachment complaint she faces.

"In calling out to Duterte to keep his hands off the judiciary and independent commissions, we resolutely refuse to accept the machinations to use the impeachment of Ms. Sereno as a weapon and the shame-and-blackmail tactics to force the resignation of agency heads that do not deliver to Mr. Duterte's whims and schemes," Salvador said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has earlier denied having a hand in the impeachment proceedings against Sereno.

Salvador warned that Sereno's "rushed removal" can hasten the President's "dark designs" for what she called "the abolition of independent agencies that can potentially challenge" Charter change, martial law, the drug war, and "militarist restructuring" of government agencies.

Sereno has taken an "indefinite leave" starting Thursday as she prepares for her legal defense in what she expects would be a Senate impeachment trial.

She has repeatedly claimed she will not resign.

Several women's organizations led by Gabriela are set to carry out a series of activities in the week leading up to International Women's Day on March 8, she said.

The events will culminate in at least three protest actions, including a dance protest, in Quezon City, Rizal Park and Mendiola on March 8.

"Concerned women need to gather strength, count on one another, and not let another martial law ruler wreak havoc on the Filipino people's lives," Salvador also said.

"The accelerating pace with which Duterte's minions are ransacking all legal checks to his self-proclamation of judge, king, lawmaker, and executioner rolled into one is not only alarming," she said, but "already tearing apart our society."

It pointed to "extrajudicial killings, aerial bombings of ancestral lands, loss of livelihood, the drug war and even normally solvable problems like traffic jams." —KG, GMA News

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