MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is not bullying Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, his spokesman said Friday, saying the top magistrate is already doing a "significant job at alienating her own colleagues."
“Hindi na siya kinakailangan i-bully ng presidente. She has done a magnificent job at alienating her own colleagues. Ang mga colleagues niya mismo ang nagsasabi na hindi siya karapat dapat diyan,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Facebook interview.
“Kung siya ay binu-bully, sino ang nambu-bully sa kanya? Eh siya ang hepeng mahistrado and yet ni isang manistrado walang kumakampi sa kanya.”
A proceeding at the House of Representatives justice panel tackling an impeachment complaint against Sereno has revealed cracks in the judiciary, with several magistrates testifying against the Chief Justice.
The lack of support for Sereno among Supreme Court employees also became apparent during a flag ceremony last Monday, when they wore red and carried balloons to show support for the en banc’s decision to urge Sereno to go on leave as she faced a possible impeachment trial in the Senate.
The House committee on justice on Thursday found sufficient grounds to impeach Sereno.
Roque, meanwhile, also accused Sereno of blaming Duterte for her current predicament.
“Ang ayaw ko lang sinasabi niya lately na ang presidente daw ang dahilan kung bakit siya pinatatalsik sa pwesto,” he said.
She, however, said people must then ask who is behind Solicitor General Jose Calida’s action of filing a quo warranto petition against her.
In a television interview on Thursday, Sereno said if Duterte denied involvement in attempts to impeach her, “let’s leave it at that.”
She, however, said people must then ask who is behind the Solicitor General Jose Calida’s action of filing a quo warranto petition against her.
“Your guess is as good as mine. I think we have to ask some important questions, because there are always disclaimers. The president keeps on disclaiming any knowledge or participation about this whole thing. So we have to ask where Calida’s action is coming from,” Sereno said.
“If he says he has nothing to do with it, then he has nothing to do with it.”
Sereno, appointed by then president Benigno Aquino III in 2012, has decried attempts to oust her, vowing on Thursday to “fiercely” fight for judicial independence.
The country's first female chief justice was expected to stay in her post until reaching the mandatory retirement age in 2030.