Duterte to Supreme Court: don’t get in the way

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 10 Aug) – President Rodrigo on Tuesday night warned Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno he will declare martial law if the Supreme Court gets in the way of his war on drugs.

Speaking in front of soldiers in Camp Evangelista here, Duterte raised the possibility of martial law in case a constitutional crisis looms between the two equal branches of government.

“I am giving you a warning. Do not create a crisis because I will order everybody in the executive department not to honor you,” said Duterte, who announced early Sunday morning the names of 163 persons from the executive, legislative and judiciary who are allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade.

Seven judges were among those on the list.

“If this continues, you are trying to stop me. I might lose my cool or would you rather I declare Martial Law?” the President asked.

“If this continues, (if you stop me, I might lose my cool) or would you rather that I will declare martial law?” Duterte asked.

Duterte’s remarks came after the Chief Justice, in an August 8 letter to the President, said she would caution the judges named by Duterte not to ‘surrender’ to the police unless warrants of arrests have been issued against them.

Of the seven judges named by Duterte, Sereno said only four are in active service. One died in January 2008, another one was dismissed in 2007 for gross ignorance of law and misconduct and one retired in June this year.

“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,” Sereno told Duterte.

Duterte said he made it clear that the judges on the list were to report to the Supreme Court. “Wala akong pina-aresto (I did not order an arrest), Chief Justice,” he said, adding he was just exercising his duty as President of the Philippines.

He said he respects her comments “but it is a rigmarole to me,” Duterte said.

“You know, Chief Justice, there was slaughter going on, and mind you, you were appointed by the government there in your office as a Chief Justice at the time na walang ginawa ang gobyerno. And why would you wait for the warrant of arrest? There are now 600,000 of Filipinos addicted and victim. Maghingi ka ng warrant, Madame Chief Justice, you must be joking, you must be joking, dalawa tayo abogado, kayong lahat sa Supreme Court. Do you know how long it would take… to secure a warrant of arrest?” Duterte asked.

He said he “never accused anybody, except to read their names, nasangkot sa droga (involved in drugs) …. It was not an accusatorial utterance… rather it was in consonance with my duty as the President of the Philippines to let everybody know.”

He said he announced the names because “I want the Philippines to know who are the judges, who are the soldiers, who are the police, Generals, pati yung mga nasa baba na sangkot sa droga (including the subordinates who are involved in drugs).

“Since your name is already there, leave it. I will publish the way it is there. Bakit ko i-exempt yong namatay,” Duterte said referring to the case of the late Judge Roberto Navidad and others on the list who have also passed away years earlier.

Duterte tagged Navidad of Regional Trial Court 32 in Calbayog City, Samar, who died eight years ago.

The President said the list of politicians, judges and cops with links to drugs was prepared by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency headed by Director General Isidro Lapena.

He said the list was a work done over the years and was constantly revalidated to update its information. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)