Duterte to Sereno: I’m now your enemy

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte formally declared war against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, calling the latter his “enemy.”

In a press conference on Monday, April 9, at the Davao International Airport, Duterte vowed to do everything in his power to remove the top magistrate from her office.

“I’m putting you on notice that I’m now your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,” the president said before his flight to China.

“I will see to it and after that, I will request the Congress go into the impeachment right away,” he added.

Duterte’s declaration came hours after Sereno challenged the president to explain why Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a “quo warranto” petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to invalidate her appointment.

But an irked Duterte insisted that he has no hand in the impeachment case against her.

“Ikaw Sereno, sinabi ko na sa ‘yo, hindi ako nakialam (Sereno, I told you that I never interfered). But if you are insisting, count me in. Count me in and I will egg Calida to do his best,” Duterte remarked.

He then said that he would ask House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to hasten the impeachment process against the Chief justice.

“I would ask Speaker Alvarez now, kindly fast-track the impeachment. She is bad for the Philippines,” he said.

Duterte continued: “Now this time, I’m asking the congressmen and the Speaker, ‘Do it now. ‘Wag ninyong dramahin (Don’t add drama to it). Or else, I will do it for you.”

Alvarez, in response, said he will heed to Duterte’s instructions.

“It will be done once we resume sessions,” Alvarez told Inquirer. Congress adjourned its session on March 21 and is set resume on May 14.

Asked if he thinks Sereno would be impeached, the House speaker responded: “Yes, we have a very strong case to impeach her.”

The articles of impeachment against Sereno are currently being drafted by the House justice panel, which will be submitted for plenary deliberations. If approved, it will then be submitted at the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court.

Sereno is accused of culpable of violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.

The complaint claimed that she allegedly misdeclared her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), bypassed the en banc, and delayed the benefits of retired SC personnel, among others.

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