Sereno answers Duterte remarks with dignified silence
Rosette Adel ( - August 10, 2016 - 2:28pm

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday chose to keep quiet about President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks against her, saying there is no need for her to respond.

Supreme Court Public Information Office chief Theodore Te, who announced the response on Sereno's behalf, said he did not want to add nor editorialize when asked for details.

The Sereno Supreme Court has generally refrained from commenting on political issues and even on cases it decides on, a policy that the judiciary adopted in 2012.

“Wisdom leads me to seek to return the Supreme Court to its days of dignified silence—when its justices were heard when read through their writings, and when the actions of the court were best seen in their collective resolutions,” Sereno, who rarely gives media interviews, said when she assumed office.

While speaking before soldiers in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday night, Duterte questioned Sereno’s advice to judges allegedly linked to illegal drugs not to surrender to police unless a warrant is issued for their arrest. She also said the announcement of the names was premature and tended to endanger the lives of the judges named.

The Supreme Court has already announced a probe on four judges included in a list that Duterte read in public past midnight on Sunday.

Duterte criticized Sereno on Tuesday saying the issuance of warrant takes months and the resolution of criminal cases also takes years or even “forever”.

READ: Duterte tells Sereno: Don’t create a crisis

The president stressed Sereno must know the judicial system being a lawyer herself and asked her to sop creating a crisis regarding his anti-drug campaign. Duterte asked the chief justice if she would rather have him declare martial law to fight the drug menace and warned her that he could order the members of the executive branch to ignore legal orders and decisions from the judiciary. 

Palace: It was a rhetorical question

On Wednesday, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said “the president merely asked a rhetorical question and said it under the context that his anti-drug campaign cannot wait for the slow wheels of justice, Philippine style.” He said Duterte simply used his executive powers to impose urgent action against the drug problem of the country.

“We have an action man for a president who believes justice delayed is justice denied. He is the type who at the onset of his presidency, simply wants to hit the ground running and rid society of drugs, crime and corruption with urgency,” Andanar said in a statement.

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