Chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Photo: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Hanoi (VNA) – Chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court Maria Lourdes Sereno will start an indefinite leave on March 1 but will not resign, amidst reports that rival justices demanded her to quit in a closed-door meeting.

Sereno’s spokesman Jojo Lacanilao told reporters on February 28 that nobody or institution outside the Senate can force the chief justice to resign. He added that any action to force her to step down other than by convicting her in a Senate trial would be unconstitutional.

Sereno did not do anything that can amount to an impeachable offense, and looks forward to the trial where her defence attorneys could confront her accusers, he said.

The Senate is expected to summon her in March.

A complaint filed by a lawyer cited 27 grounds for impeachment, including alleged corruption and culpable violations of the institution.

Sereno, who was appointed in 2012 by President Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor, was accused of not declaring her assets and liabilities as required by the law, misusing public funds and deciding without consulting fellow justices. But she dismissed all of the counts.

A committee in the House of Representatives will cast an initial vote on whether to impeach Sereno next week. The chief justice has been backed by opposition groups and politicians while a left-wing group of lawyers said fellow justices forcing her to step down undermines the high court’s integrity and respect for the constitution.-VNA