President to Chief Justice: “you are again wrong”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNew/26 August) — President Rodrigo Duterte has criticized anew Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for allegedly telling people not to allow arrest if there is no warrant.

In his speech at the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command Friday, Duterte said what the Chief Justice said was “a very dangerous statement” that might lead to more killings in the war against drugs.

“You know, I’d like to respond to the Chief Justice. And as much as possible, I want to be respectful as I can ever be. Madame Justice, you are again wrong when you say ‘do not allow yourself to be arrested if there is no warrant,’” he said.

“Dagdagan mo ang patay niyan. Kasi kung sabihin mo sa tao ngayon na walang warrant, eh may baril ako, may droga ako dito, hearing your words ‘do not allow yourself to be arrested without a warrant’ is a very dangerous statement. You will promote anarchy, the things that you really fear,” he said, as he assured there would be no anarchy under his term.

Duterte was apparently reacting to what Sereno may hve said during a press conference that followed her report on the Judiciary last Thursday. Sereno has yet to react to what Duterte said.

The President, a government prosecutor for a decade before he was named OIC Vice Mayor and later won the mayoralty, said he would like to lecture the public, “not the Supreme Court,” about arrests with warrant and warrantless arrests.

He said a warrant of arrest is issued by the court for law enforcers to arrest this person but arrests can also be made without warrants, when somebody commits a crime in your presence, or had in fact committed, or is about to commit a crime and authorities can “pursue them (criminals) to the ends of the world,” he said.

It was the second time Duterte took a swipe at the Chief Justice.

On August 9, during his visit to the headquarters of the 4th Infantry Division in Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Cagayan De Oro City, Duterte warned he would declare martial law if the Chief Justice would get in the way of his fight against illegal drugs.

Sereno had written Duterte on August 8 after the President included seven judges on the list of 163 persons allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

She 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,” she said.

Sereno disclosed the high court is “currently investigating a report on a judge who may be so involved” but is not on the President’s list.

A Philippine Star report said the chief magistrate expressed concern Thursday over the impunity relative to the drug-related killings in Duterte’s war on drugs with a tendency that law enforcement agencies will not observe proper court processes.

“I am alarmed by the situation of impunity in our country whereby our court processes are not effected by law enforcement agencies,” the report quoted Sereno as saying. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)