Global group of lawyers, judges slam Duterte for declaring Sereno his enemy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) - A global group of 60 judges and lawyers condemned President Rodrigo Duterte's open animosity with embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom he has declared as his enemy.

In a statement, Emerlynne Gil, senior international legal adviser of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), said that it is "absolutely unacceptable" for Duterte to make such a statement.

"Not only because it constitutes direct intimidation of the Chief Justice, but the chilling effect it may have on other independent judges who carry out their professional duties," Gil said.

On Monday, Sereno dared Duterte to disprove claims he was the behind the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida to nullify her appointment. On the same day, Duterte declared Sereno his enemy.

"Ikaw Sereno, sinabi ko na sa'yo, hindi ako nakialam. If you are insisting then count me in, and I will egg Calida to do his best. Ako na mismo ang maglakad rin, kalaban sa'yo," Duterte said.

[Translation: Sereno, I already told you that I don't meddle. If you are insisting, then count me in, and I will egg Calida to do his best. I will handle this myself, against you.]

The President also called on the lower house to fast-track impeachment proceedings presently underway against Sereno.

The ICJ asked Duterte to "retract his comments and to refrain in the future from making any statements attacking individual judges or in any way interfering with the independence of the judiciary."

It added that through these remarks, "the President is actively influencing and interfering with the functions of other co-equal branches of government."

Sereno is battling two ouster moves against her - the aforementioned quo warranto petition and the looming impeachment trial.

She faces accusations of enjoying a lavish lifestyle, bypassing colleagues in the issuance of court orders, failing to pay about P2 million in taxes, and misdeclaring her wealth. Sereno has denied the allegations.