The Latest: Sereno urges Filipinos to speak up, fight abuses

Philippine Supreme Court employees pose with clenched fists to express support for the ouster of embattled Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno following a mass inside while the court votes on a petition to oust her in a move she calls unconstitutional Friday, May 11, 2018 in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A protester displays a placard during a rally in front of the Philippine Supreme Court supporting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno while the court votes on a petition to oust her in a move she calls unconstitutional Friday, May 11, 2018 in Manila, Philippines. The Philippine Supreme Court ousted its chief justice, a critic of the country's authoritarian president, in an unprecedented vote Friday by fellow magistrates that she and hundreds of protesters called unconstitutional and a threat to democracy. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Philippine Supreme Court employees attend a mass inside the highest court to support the ouster of embattled Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno while the court votes on a petition to oust her in a move she calls unconstitutional Friday, May 11, 2018 in Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Protesters display portraits of embattled Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as they mass in front of the court to rally for Sereno Friday, May 11, 2018 in Manila, Philippines. Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters massed in front of the court to rally for Sereno ahead of an expected vote by fellow justices on a government-backed petition to oust her in a move she calls unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines — The Latest on the removal of the chief justice of the Philippines (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

Former Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has held her first news conference since being ousted, and has urged Filipinos to help defend the constitution in a sign she's ready to take to the front lines in advocating change.

Sereno said late Friday: "Staying quiet is tantamount to being an accomplice to their abuses." Although she did not mention President Rodrigo Duterte by name, she alluded to many issues under his leadership, including extrajudicial killings, which have been raised by rights activists and critics.

"I am a victim today, but I am just one of so many thousands upon thousands whose lives have been snuffed out, who continue to remain in detention, who have been unfairly accused or unfairly victimized by the very powerful forces in our society that must be exposed for what they are," Sereno said.

She said she wants to talk to common people, including the youth, about injustice and the urgency of fighting for what is right. "For the longest time, we have not had a national conversation," she said.

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6:35 p.m.

Lawyers of ousted Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno say she will appeal an unprecedented ruling by fellow magistrates to remove her.

Even some allies of authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte — who threatened to have Sereno fired because she criticized him — disagreed with the way she was ousted.

Sereno's lawyer and spokesman Jojo Lacanilao says an appeal was the only legal remedy left after the justices voted 8-6 to grant a government petition to oust Sereno because she allegedly sullied her integrity by failing to file assets disclosures as required by law prior to her entry at the Supreme Court.

Sereno has denied the allegation and argued that the widely expected ruling was unconstitutional because the country's 1987 charter provides that top officials including justices like her can only be removed by impeachment.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, a key ally of Duterte, agreed with Sereno and urged the Supreme Court to review its decision, saying it's "not infallible in everything." Another senator, JV Ejercito, warned of a possible constitutional crisis if the House of Representatives proceeds to impeach Sereno despite her removal.

Estrada says: "What is alarming is the blatant disregard of the highest law of the land. I urge the public to remain calm. Despite this setback, let us not lose our confidence in our democracy."

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2:45 p.m.

A Philippine opposition leader says the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is a mockery of the constitution.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan also says Congress should insist on its exclusive constitutional role to remove key officials like her through impeachment.

Pangilinan, who heads the opposition Liberal Party, says "what the majority in the Supreme Court did was a mockery of the constitution." He says "the people should express to the court that the decision was wrong and unacceptable." He also says Sereno should appeal.

Aside from a government petition to declare Sereno ineligible to lead the Supreme Court over her alleged failure to declare her wealth before she became chief justice, she also faced an impeachment complaint in the House of Representatives. She says she was ready to defend herself if the impeachment case reached the Senate for trial.

But the impeachment process has now been pre-empted by the unprecedented vote Friday to remove her from the Supreme Court, sparking legal confusion over what would happen to the votes she cast on cases in the years she led the country's highest court.

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1:15 p.m.

Ousted Philippine Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has emerged from the Supreme Court after her colleagues voted to remove her and is asking hundreds of protesting supporters to organize a movement to defend justice and accountability.

Sereno told the crowd: "Let's continue to defend the constitution and fight wrongdoing. Let's continue to spread the message of democracy and reason."

She says the justices who voted to boot her out of the 15-member tribunal seized "the sole responsibility of the Senate, brazenly violated their sworn responsibility to protect the constitution and destroyed the judiciary."

Sereno has been at loggerheads with President Rodrigo Duterte and has urged Filipinos to stand up to his authoritarian rule. She has been speaking up for the respect of law and human rights, irking Duterte at a time he has led a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has left thousands of suspects dead.

The former law professor at the state-run University of the Philippines says the government petition that her fellow justices approved violated the constitution, which provides that top officials like her can only be removed by impeachment.

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12:05 p.m.

The Philippine Supreme Court spokesman says Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has been ousted in a vote by fellow judges acting on a government petition, which sought her removal in a move she calls unconstitutional.

Court spokesman Theodore Te says eight of 14 justices voted Friday to remove Sereno from the 15-member tribunal for allegedly failing to file statements of assets and liabilities as required by law. Sereno denies the allegation and did not participate in the vote.

Hundreds of protesters denouncing Sereno's ouster rallied outside the court.

Sereno has been at loggerheads with President Rodrigo Duterte and has urged Filipinos to stand up to his authoritarian rule. She also has been speaking up for the respect of law and human rights, irking Duterte at a time he has led a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has left thousands of suspects dead.

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