MANILA (Mabuhay) — A Malacañang official on Wednesday clarified the remark of President Rodrigo Duterte on martial law as he hit back at Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“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 – [Philippines] style. We have an Action Man for a President who believes justice delayed is justice denied,” Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement sent to reporters.
“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,” he added.
During his visit to the troops of the 4th Infantry Division at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City late Tuesday afternoon, Duterte warned Sereno not to create a constitutional crisis amid his campaign against illegal drug trade.
The remarks stemmed from Sereno’s letter to the President asking for his source in tagging seven judges as narco-officials. The Chief Justice also asked Duterte to allow the SC to do the investigation on the alleged narco-judges
“With all due respect, Mr. President, we were caught unprepared by the announcement. It would matter greatly to our sense of constitutional order if we were given the chance to administer the appropriate preventive measures without the complications of a premature public announcement,” she wrote.
Andanar assured that Duterte is very much aware of the constitutional separation of powers.
“The President has made use of executive powers at his disposal, knowing fully well the limits of these powers, and without undermining the constitutional separation of powers nor infringing upon the rights of citizens. He is working very hard to deal with the drug menace head-on, by removing fear from among the civilians and bringing it back to the hearts of drug protectors, criminals and corrupt officials,” he said.
He added that Duterte did not create a constitutional crisis when he named the judges on his narco-list.
“When the President referred the named judges on his consolidated list to the Supreme Court, he was acknowledging the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over the judges. He recognizes the separation of powers, and even asked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court not to create a constitutional crisis,” he said.
Andanar also assured that Duterte “believes in the rule of law” and “advocates for judicial independence.”
“As President, he has the sworn duty to uphold and defend the Constitution. The words and action of the President all point to these,” he added.(MNS)