Duterte says he will make sure Sereno will be out of the Supreme Court
MANILA - (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's "enemy" after the top magistrate urged him to explain why the government's lawyer was seeking the invalidation of her appointment.
Duterte also instructed the House of Representatives, where he holds a supermajority of allies, to "fast track" Sereno's impeachment even as the Supreme Court was yet to decide on the quo warranto seeking her ouster.
"Ikaw Sereno, sinabi ko na sa 'yo, hindi ako nakialam. If you are insisting, count me in. Count me in and I will egg Calida to do his best. Ako na mismo maglakad, magkalaban sa ’yo. Sinabi ko na sa'yong hindi ako nakikialam," he told reporters before he left for China for the Boao Forum.
"Sige ka diyan, daldal nang daldal, sige, upakan kita. I will help any investigator, talagang upakan kita. I am putting you on notice na I am now your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court. I will see to it then after that I will request the Congress, go into the impeachment right away," he said.
Duterte said the Supreme Court can hear the quo warranto petition "simultaneously" with Congress' hearing on the impeachment.
"I’d like to ask Speaker [Pantaleon] Alvarez now, kindly fast track the impeachment of Sereno. She is bad for the Philippines," he said.
"I am asking Congress, what is taking you so long? Do not create any crisis in this country. I will not hesitate to do what is to the best interest of my country. If it calls for your forced removal, I will do it," he said.
Sereno in a speech earlier on Monday said the President should explain why Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a "quo warranto" petition before the Supreme Court to invalidate her appointment.
Calida asked Sereno's colleagues to invalidate her appointment, citing her supposed failure to submit her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth to the Judicial and Bar Council when they were screening applicants for the Chief Justice post in 2012.
The leaders of the House of Representatives said they would defer voting on the articles of impeachment in the plenary until after the Supreme Court decides on the petitions questioning Sereno's qualifications.
Duterte said a simple public school teacher could get fired if she does not file her SALN, yet Sereno, who earned attorney's fees for working as government counsel, did not submit hers.
"What is this special treatment? I’ll go to jail with her; diyan ako sa gitna ng selda ko—dito si De Lima at doon siya," he said, referring to Senator Leila De Lima, who has been detained on drug charges for more than a year.