An official of the Catholic Church’s social justice arm said the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is a “mockery of the democratic process”.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of the bishops’ National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (Nassa), said the Supreme Court decision did not come as a surprise at all.

“The decision is expected because the accusers are themselves the judges,” Gariguez said.

“We condemn in strongest terms the desecration of our Constitution and democratic institution,” he said.

The priest also accused Malacañang of having a hand to oust Sereno, whom President Rodrigo Duterte earlier called an “enemy”.

“The wily manipulation of the Duterte administaration was so effective. Duterte has succeeded in controlling the judiciary,” said Gariguez.

By a vote of 8-6, the SC granted the government’s petition to invalidate Sereno’s appointment over alleged violations in the appointment process, preempting an impeachment proceedings against her in the House of Representatives.

Aside from the petition, Sereno also faced an impeachment complaint over alleged failure to declare her wealth and for violating court procedures.

The SC also declared Sereno’s position vacant effective immediately and ordered the judicial and bar council to begin a new selection process.

The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippine (AMRSP) has also criticized the court ruling, saying that unseating Sereno through a quo warranto petition “is not right”.

“Shortcuts are inimical to what our justice system stands for. Why not follow the proper and legal procedure which may take a longer time? Haste makes waste. Shortcuts cause short circuits and damage the whole system,” it said.

The group also lamented the inclusion of the country’s top court in the political arena when it is supposed to be insulated from it.

“The justices do not work anymore as one, but in shambles. Politics has truly invaded our justice system,” said the AMRSP.