Duterte: Prove I had hand in Sereno ouster and I will resign

Published May 16, 2018, 8:50 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte is insisting that he had no role in the decision of the Supreme Court to unseat Maria Lourdes Sereno as their Chief Justice and said that he will resign if anybody can prove that he meddled with the affairs of the Judiciary.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 24th Annual Convention of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines (NFMCP) at the Peñaranda Park in Legazpi City, Albay on April 21, 2018. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte 

Duterte made the statement five days after the Supreme Court made a historic decision to oust Sereno by voting for the Quo Warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

“[If] there was one congresswoman or congressman, or Justice, single Justice magsabi may kinausap ako diyan na (who can say that I spoke with someone about it) — I can guarantee you, I will resign,” Duterte said Wednesday evening.

“At tanungin niyo maski sino (Ask anybody). I never lifted a finger… Kaya ngayon (So now) I challenge everybody and anybody,” he added.

“Kasi magtanong ka diyan maski isang congressman o congresswoman o isang Justice magsabing kinausap ko sila, magbaba ako. Sabay kami (Ask anybody and if a single congressman or congresswoman or a Justice says that I talked to them, I will resign. We will both resign),” he continued.

Duterte said that his words against Sereno last month was him being emotional after the former Chief Justice accused him of orchestrating the impeachment case against her.

“Sinabi ko na sa inyo huwag. Mag-init ang ulo ko. I get emotional. Sinabi ko na sa iyo, kanya wala akong kasali diyan (I told you to not involve me or I will get angry. I get emotional. I already told her that I have no role),” he said.

“Sinabi ko na (I already said that) it’s not my habit. Hindi ko talaga (It’s not my) — it’s out of my character to do that. Hindi ako nanghahabol ng tao (I do not run after my political opponents),” he added.

Last month, an irritated Duterte said that he will egg Calida to push for Sereno’s ouster and that he will also urge the Congress to hurry up and hear the impeachment trial against Sereno.

Meanwhile, Duterte explained that Calida was only doing his job as the country’s top lawyer.

“Calida, it was his job to find faults. Hindi ko inaano (I do not order him). Whatever he thinks that it is his duty to perform, hindi ako nakikialam (I do not intervene),” he said.

Malacañang had earlier defended Duterte from accusations that the President had a hand in the decision against Sereno.

“Out of character sa Presidente ang nakikialam diyan sa ganiyang bagay. Unang-una, ni hindi nga siya nakikialam sa kaniyang mga departamento, sa kaniyang mga Cabinet members; eh lalo na sa ibang sangay ng gobyerno. Walang kinalaman si Presidente diyan (It is out of the President’s character to meddle when he doesn’t even interfere with the affairs of the different departments, what more to a different branch of government),” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said.

Last week, Malacañang appealed to the public to respect the decision of the Supreme Court to oust its Chief Justice.

“The Supreme Court has spoken. We all must bow to the majesty of the law. The Constitution has given the duty of interpreting the law to the highest court of the land and we must abide by it regardless of our disagreement with its ruling. That is how democracy works,” Panelo had said.