Sereno appreciates apology
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2016 - 12:00am

Rody: Harsh words unintended

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno yesterday accepted the apology of President Duterte.

The President apologized to Sereno late Thursday for his “harsh words,” saying they were not intentional.

Sereno, through Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te, issued a statement acknowledging the comment made by Duterte on the issue.

“The Chief Justice appreciates the President’s latest remarks. As previously announced, she would no longer say anything on this matter,” Te said.

Te said the chief magistrate was not able to watch the televised late night press conference in Davao City where Duterte offered his apology.

He said Sereno was later provided a transcript.

“I would like to apologize to the Chief Justice for the harsh words, which were never intended,” Duterte said.

“Because of the magnitude of the problem, it was my way of solving the problem within the ambit of my powers as President,” he said.

Duterte was angry over the letter from Sereno, where she stated her reservations over the President’s revelations that some members of the judiciary are involved in the illegal drug trade.

In the letter, Sereno called Duterte’s actions “premature” and cautioned the judges named in the list not to surrender in the absence of formal complaints or arrest warrants.

Duterte complained a warrant would take months and would affect his anti-drug campaign.

He shot back at Sereno, warning of a constitutional crisis and possible declaration of martial law if the judiciary gets in the way of his anti-illegal drug campaign.

Sereno declined to answer Duterte’s remarks.

Duterte’s statements on the possibility of declaring martial law earned him rebukes from several quarters already wary of his controversial methods in dealing with criminals and drug offenders.

Malacañang downplayed Duterte’s remarks, saying the President was merely asking a rhetorical question.

Humble

Senators commended the President for making the apology.

“I see in Duterte a humble president who apologized when he realized he made a mistake. It is better to have a leader like that than someone who thinks he is always right,” Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said Duterte’s apology showed his personality – if he is attacked he will counter-attack; if people are gracious he will reciprocate as well.

“Perhaps it will aid the public in understanding him as a man and as a public official,” Angara said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said Duterte’s outburst often stemmed from his frustration in the campaign against illegal drugs.

“That’s why is it imperative that the bosses of the judiciary and executive constantly coordinate. Let’s give it to him. He knew he was harsh, and he apologized for it. He was man enough to know his shortcomings in order to avoid misunderstandings,” Gatchalian said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Duterte has often publicly admitted being unmindful of other people’s opinion. He said Duterte making the public apology is actually how he

describes himself.

“One and a half months as President won’t transform him into a statesman that Filipinos have become accustomed to see upon assumption of office,” Lacson said.

“Let’s just hope that he’s capable of defying the old adage, ‘It is hard to teach old dogs new tricks’ for his own good and our country as well,” he said.

Sen. Joel Villanueva said the apology was a good sign for a better, more mature and more harmonious relationship among government branches. 

Sen. Leila de Lima also praised Duterte for apologizing but called on him to make clearer statements, particularly on sensitive issues.

“We can also rest assured that the possible declaration of martial law is not administration policy, if the President did not intend to say those harsh words in the first place. As I said, whatever the President says can be construed as policy,” De Lima said.

She said it would be helpful if Malacañang clarifies what part of the President’s declarations are policy and what are not, or intended as mere ice breakers.

“So we do not get confused as to what the President means to say and what he does not,” De Lima said.

Presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo said Duterte is known to be passionate in his statements.

“Sometimes, in the heat of passion, you can add harsh words when it could have been mild. But he is a gentleman and he has always been respectful of women, whether young or old. That’s the kind of President we have,” Panelo said.

Although Duterte is tough talking, Panelo said the President is also “compassionate, can walk the talk and has the guts and the political will” to deliver change in the country.

He explained the President is operating on the “predicate of serving and protecting his people” and in his move to name the errant officials, he was just doing this job.

On Sereno’s acceptance of the apology, Panelo said the chief magistrate is cooperating with Duterte in his campaign against illegal drugs.

“We believe the Chief Justice is cooperating with the government. We should be cooperating with each other,” he said.

Duterte, in his visit to Jolo yesterday, refused to comment further when asked for his reaction on Sereno’s gesture accepting his apology. – Christina Mendez, Giovanni Nilles

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