PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, April 9, launched a profanity-laced tirade against beleaguered Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, telling her that he now treats her as an "enemy" who must be removed from office.
Irked by Sereno's insistence that he might have a hand in the moves to oust her, Duterte said he would make sure that the chief magistrate would be impeached.
"I already told Chief Justice Sereno, I am not into the habit to go after my enemy. I have no history on that," the President told reporters in an interview in Davao City before flying to China to participate in the Boao Forum Asia on Tuesday, April 10.
"I am telling you that I never interfered (in the impeachment trial against you). Now, you keep on blabbering. I will punch you. I will help any investigator. I will really punch you. So I'm putting you on notice that I am now your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court," he added.
Duterte was prompted to respond to Sereno's remark earlier Monday that was addressed to him, asking him if he is involved in the moves to nullify her appointment as top official of the Supreme Court.
Sereno, in a speech delivered at an Araw ng Kagitingan event organized by the Movement Against Tyranny, hinted that Duterte might be behind the quo warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General which questioned the legitimacy of her appointment as Chief Justice..
"Mr. President, if you said that you are in no way involved in this, please explain why Solicitor General (Jose) Calida filed this (quo warranto petition)? Who is reporting to you?" she was quoted as saying. "You cannot deny that there is a hand moving behind these."
Sereno, who is among those critical of Duterte's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs, is facing possible impeachment.
On March 8, the House justice panel found probable cause in the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, accusing Sereno of committing culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.
The President has repeatedly distanced himself from the impeachment case lodged against Sereno before the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the impeachment articles drafted by the justice panel when the session resumes on May 14.
Duterte, who was piqued by Sereno's remark, said he would ask Congress to "kindly fast-track" Sereno's impeachment, as she is "bad for the Philippines."
"If you (Sereno) are insisting (that I'm behind calls for your impeachment), then count me in. Count me in and I will egg Calida to do his best," he said.
"I will see to it that after that, then I will request the Congress, go into the impeachment right away, because the two entities can hear it simultaneously. Son of a b****, I said I never interfered," the President added. (SunStar Philippines)