President Rodrigo Duterte felt like Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno ordered him around after receiving her letter concerning the inclusion of seven judges in the narco-list.
Duterte then mentioned martial law if Sereno does not agree with his current methods in fighting drugs, after she called his revelation of the list a ‘premature announcement.’
“If this continues, pigilan mo ako eh ‘di sige’ pag nagwala na, or would you rather I declare martial law? Pinapatay ang Pilipino. I grieve for so many women raped, men killed, infants raped tapos ipitin mo ako,” Duterte told the troops in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, August 9.
In her letter, Sereno said that she had cautioned the judges in Duterte’s narco-list not to surrender to their mother units unless they have a warrant of arrest.
Duterte seemed to interpret this as the Chief Justice asking for a warrant of arrest for all the suspected drug users and pushers in the country, which he said has already reached “600,000,” based on the number of people who gave themselves up to the law enforcement agencies.
“Madam Chief Justice, you must be joking. Dalawa tayo abugado, kayong lahat sa Supreme Court. Do you know how long it would take government to secure a warrant of arrest?” the President said.
He added that it “would take forever” before warrants of arrest are handed to all the drug personalities in the country. He previously said that there are likely 3 to 3.7 million Filipinos addicted to illegal drugs.
“In the meantime, yung bangag ano’ng gawin mo? Let them resume their criminal activities?” Duterte said.
The President also reacted to Sereno’s observations on how some of the judges in his list did not preside over drug cases, saying that those judges referred drug suspects under their protection to judges who handle drug court.
“Kung judge, he was not handling drug cases? Ma’am, nagkamali ka, akala ko ba, to be there you must be seasoned? Takbo niyan, ‘Pare, tawag mo yung kaibigan mong judge,” Duterte said.
He also reminded Sereno not to “force the issue” and gave the Supreme Court a warning.
“Do not create a crisis because I will order everybody in the executive department not to honor you. Ito prangkahan, kasi nakialam kayo,” he said.
“Ikaw ang kingpin ng judiciary. Ako, presidente. Ako may trabaho, ikaw wala. Walang mga judges na nagpapatrol ng daan. Walang mga sheriff ninyo na naghuhuli,” he added.
And this is when he showed signs that he felt like the Supreme Court is ordering him around.
“Just because you are the Supreme Court, you order me? I will not follow you,” he said.
As critics accused him of ordering the killings, especially after his firm stand on giving shoot-to-kill orders, Duterte insisted that he has ordered the law enforcers to save lives.
“I will order the military and the police to save lives. I’m not saying they should kill them. But in the meantime you’re projecting your theories there, there is crime in the streets,” he said.
Rappler noted that the branch of government that he is threatening with a declaration of martial law is the very branch that will also scrutinize and review that declaration.
Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution states that “The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within 30 days from its filing.
A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”