DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 August) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte apologized to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for his tirade against her over the latter’s statement on the alleged involvement of some judges in the illegal drug trade.
Duterte said in a press conference on Thursday evening that he does not want to get entangled with the high court’s chief magistrate and the words that he said were never intended.
“Ako kasi, because of the magnitude of the problem it was my way of solving the problem within the ambit of my power as president,” he said.
Duterte, apparently irked by Sereno’s letter to him last August 8, warned that there would be a constitutional crisis and threatened to declare martial law if Sereno continued getting in the way of his campaign against illegal drugs.
He said it was his job as president to drop the names of government workers in his drug list consistent with the executive order on Freedom of Information that covers the executive branch..
“It’s my job, job to inform the people of their surroundings, so that they may avoid harm and danger. I do not have to ask anybody kung kailangan ko pa to expose. Kayo na rin mismo ang naghingi,” he said.
During his visit at the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City last Tuesday, Duterte urged Sereno to undergo a reality check and not create a constitutional crisis over his naming of judges allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
“Please go to reality. Huwag ka masyado dun sa itaas…I have my oath. I will defend the Constitution, I will honor the flag, but do not create a conflict there because hindi tayo magkasundo…Please, please, please do not create a confrontation, a constitutional war, talo tayong lahat diyan,” he said.
In her letter sent through Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Sereno said naming the judges was “a premature announcement of an informal investigation on allegations of involvement with the drug trade.”
“It would be very helpful if the investigators who included the names of Judges Dagala and Gonzales inform the Court how these MTC judges can be considered as influencing the drug trade,” she said.
She disclosed that the high court is “currently investigating a report on a judge who may be so involved” but is not on the list the President revealed.
“To safeguard the role of the judges as the protector of constitutional rights, I would caution them very strongly against “surrendering” or making themselves physically accountable to any police officer in the absence of any duly-issued warrant of arrest that is pending,” she added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)