And on Friday, the Supreme Court forced her out, voting 8 to 6 for her to step down following accusations that she had failed to fully disclose her wealth. "Let us respect its decision granting the quo warranto petition as the proper remedy and the quo warranto petition ruling against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno".
It gave Ms Sereno a deadline of 10 days after receiving a copy of its decision to explain why she should not be sanctioned for a number of alleged violations, such as "casting aspersions and ill-motive to the members of the Supreme Court". The Court's ruling, which was penned by Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam, preempted the impending impeachment trial of Sereno before the Senate.
This was confirmed by other High Court sources, who said that because Sereno's previous post was already filled up by another appointee, she "cannot go back to her previous position anymore", which is that of associate justice.
"The Supreme Court, a co-equal branch of government, is duty-bound to uphold the Constitution".
The SC declared the position of the Chief Justice vacant and ordered the Judicial Bar Council to begin the application and nomination process.
She has warned that the efforts by the Duterte administration to oust her are a threat to democracy, saying the petition that led to Friday's vote violates the constitution, which stipulates that top officials like her can only be removed by impeachment.
After the vote, Sereno joined her supporters outside the court, asking them to organize a movement to defend justice and accountability.
August 30, 2017 Lawyer and former senatorial candidate Lorenzo Gadon files the second impeachment complaint against Sereno on similar charges, which the justice committee of the House of Representatives finds sufficient in form and substance. "Lourdes Sereno", he said. Her spokesman said she would appeal the decision. "We can not stay silent because this would mean we become a party to their abuse of power", she said.
"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.
"The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the law", Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. was quoted in a statement as saying.
It was also the first time in the history of the Philippines' High Tribunal that a chief justice was removed through a quo warranto plea. "The court ruling is likewise an assertion of the supremacy of the fundamental law of the land", he added. Renato Corona, a late chief justice, was impeached on similar corruption charges. He says "the people should express to the court that the decision was wrong and unacceptable". In particular, she had questioned Duterte's drug list, which, he had said, contained the names of some 150 individuals in the drug trade.
She said she wants to talk to common people, including the youth, about injustice and the urgency of fighting for what is right.
Sereno made her disapproval of Duterte's leadership quite clear.
Sereno had also voted against Duterte's move to place the entire southern Philippines under martial law to defeat Islamic militants; and to rebury the remains of dictator Marcos in a heroes' cemetery.