Sereno douses potentially fiery exchange with Duterte

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(File photo) President Rodrigo Duterte (L), Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (R)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno pours water on the issue between her and President Rodrigo Duterte — after the President warned of a possible constitutional crisis and a declaration of martial law, if the Judiciary requires arrest warrants for judges in the President’s narco list.

"Many things have been said, the Chief Justice sees no need to add to what are being said," Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te said in a press conference, Wednesday.

In a letter Sereno sent to the President, the Chief Justice said she does not advise the four judges in Duterte’s list to come forward and report to the police if there are no arrest warrants against them.

The Chief Justice also described as “premature” the President’s announcement of names in his narco list.

Watch: Sereno expresses concern over drug list

In response on Tuesday, Duterte 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.

In a speech during his visit to soldiers at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro, the President posed a question to the country's chief magistrate: "Would you rather I declare martial law?"

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

Duterte also warned Sereno that he would order the Executive branch not to honor the orders of the Judiciary — that may result to constitutional crisis.

CJ-Sereno-statement_CNNPH.png Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te's notes during a press conference — a day after President Rodrigo Duterte warned of possible constitutional crisis and declaration of martial law if the Judiciary will require arrest warrants for those in the President’s narco list.

But a day after Duterte released such statements, Malacañang qualified Duterte’s accounts as only a “rhetorical statement”.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Wednesday said: “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.”

“We have an Action Man for a President who believes justice delayed is justice denied. 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,” Andanar added.

Andanar pointed out, the President knows “fully well the limits” of the powers of his office, “without undermining the constitutional separation of powers nor infringing upon the rights of citizens.”

Allies downplay martial law statement

Allies of President Duterte in the Senate immediately downplayed the President’s statement on martial law.

In a short statement, Sen. Francis Pangilinan implied that the President must not be serious with his statements.

“The President may be joking because an order to disobey a legal order or decision of the Supreme Court is against the Constitution,” Pangilinan said.

While Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara told the media, he doesn’t believe Duterte will declare martial law.

'Di ako naniniwala na he will do it [I don’t believe that he will do it],” Angara said in an interview. “People should not be alarmist.”

Duterte critic Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, however, said Duterte’s statements should not be softened, but must be taken seriously.

“Any statement by an incumbent President threatening that he would declare martial law must be taken seriously as it is alarming,” Lagman said in a statement, Wednesday.

“Such pronouncement, although off-the-cuff, is gravely disturbing in the context of two relevant current events.”

Lagman said the overwhelming support of Congress to the administration with the “supermajority” in both House and Senate, Duterte could easily declare martial law.

“With super majorities in the Congress, the revocation of a martial law declaration is farfetched and the extension of its duration is a certainty,” he added.

CNN Philippines’ Anjo Alimario and Menchu Macapagal contributed to this report.