By Elinando B. Cinco
“I want Sereno out now!”
It was an abrupt and intense fury that only a few were surprised, as it was typical of President Duterte to spew expletives. But what astounded many were these:
First, it was directed against the highest lady magistrate of the land; second, his rage was ignited by his being blamed for orchestrating the critical impeachment and quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno which he has consistently denied; and, third, he has declared openly that he is at war with her – and making it known to the world, no less.
In a speech earlier last Monday in Baguio City, she virtually pointed an accusing finger at the Chief Executive “as the brains behind” the harassment against her.
That is also the assumption not only of those who are openly cheering for the highest lady magistrate of this country, but also of a throng in the public sectors that have their own perception, and the knack of arriving at an opinion after a studied observation.
It appears that the Sereno accusations against the Palace occupant via an interrogative jargon blew the lid off of the President’s anger. And he issued barking orders to Speaker Bebot Alvarez to immediately finalize the approval of the articles of impeachment against CJ Sereno.
That he did just hours before leaving for China last Monday. And the speaker, like a good soldier, could only muster, “I will, I will.”
The President has always denied ordering the filing of the two cases against the chief justice.
But it cannot be denied that many in the so-called silent majority have entertained their feeling of “a presidential intervention.” And, unfortunately, the outburst last Monday gave the Chief Executive away, in a manner of speaking.
Aside from the now-infamous presidential rage, what are some open verbal blasts of DU30’s as instigated by the accusations of CJ Sereno? (As quoted from the Manila Bulletin’s issue of April 10, 2018.)
“I am now your enemy.” In spite of his consistent denial before, Sereno kept on blaming DU30 for his participation.
“I will ask Congress to proceed with Sereno’s impeachment trial immediately.”
“Let the world know. I will now really get involved.” (FOCAP, now you can quote him.)
“Her removal would be for the country’s best interest. If such will be for the best interest of the country, calling for her forced removal from office, I will do it.”
“Napikon na si Presidente,” as many Filipinos now notice.
But if I were to volunteer my opinion, the better judgment would have been for the President to exercise restraint and be gentlemanly, and gracious even if he was having a boiling temperature in his emotions.
By doing so, it would have cautioned him and portrayed his non-involvement, and further, pictured his innocence of the allegations hurled by CJ Sereno and by sizeable sectors of the public at large.
After all, who would pick a fight with a meek and mellow President Duterte?
In view of last Monday’s presidential rage, supporters of the Chief Magistrate, as well as the President’s critics promptly stood up and said their pieces.
Sen. Sonny Trillanes: All along, “It is a clear ‘marching order’ to the House of Representatives, and a strong (and chilling) signal to the Senate.” A threat to the democratic institutions of this country.
Sen. Leila de Lima, from her PNP detention cell: “Duterte’s declaration of war on the Chief Justice is unacceptable behavior of any public official. But this is Duterte, and we have been used to his gangster governance for sometime now.”
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes: “The President has no right to order Congress as an independent institution …. to impeach CJ Sereno. Congress is an independent institution from the Executive Department.”
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo was in agreement. Earlier, he said the President cannot order Congress as they have “separation of powers.”