Duterte warns Sereno of crisis, martial law if drug efforts thwarted

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In his usual no-holds-barred fashion, President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at the Supreme Court's chief magistrate on Tuesday — over the latter's statement that alleged drug personalities didn't have to turn themselves in unless there was a warrant for their arrest.

Duterte, who was at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro, brushed off Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno's demand — as contained in a letter she sent to the President on Monday. Among those who were included in the latest "narco-list" — which Sereno described as premature announcement — were four judges.

The President told Sereno that given the country's slow judicial process, he could not simply wait for arrest warrants to be issued — while letting drug addicts and pushers roam the streets.

Related: Alleged narco-politicians deny involvement in illegal drug trade

"You know, chief justice, there is a slaughter going on. Mind you, you are appointed by the government there in your office as chief justice at a time na wala ginagawa ang government (when the government did nothing). Why wait for warrant of arrest? There are 600 thousand addicted," Duterte said in reference to Sereno's appointment during the Aquino administration.

He then posed a question to the country's chief magistrate: "Would you rather I declare martial law?"

Duterte said he would consider this option if his efforts against the drug menace were to be stopped by the judiciary.

"Pinapatay ang Pilipino (Filipinos are being killed). I grieve for the so many women raped... Infants killed tapos ipitin mo ako? (then you would pin me down?)"

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Duterte also warned Sereno of a possible clash between two equal branches of government that could lead to a constitutional crisis.

"Do not create a crisis because I will order everybody in the executive department not to honor you. Gusto mo ng prangkahan (If you want me to be frank)."

It can be recalled that Duterte — even before the May 9 polls — had previously made a similar warning to those who might want to impeach him should he win the presidency: threatening to shut down Congress should they try to do so.

He had also cautioned lawmakers about launching probes into his fight against drug criminals.

Related: De Lima: 'We cannot wage the war against drugs with blood'

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.