Sereno spokesperson on Duterte's remarks vs. Chief Justice: CJ won't go down to that level

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) —  A spokesperson for embattled Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said Friday she would not reply to the name-calling that President Rodrigo Duterte had resorted to in describing her amid attempts to unseat her.

Lawyer Jojo Lacanilao said Sereno would not return Duterte's harsh words, but would instead focus on fighting for freedom, democracy, and judicial independence.

Duterte had described the Chief Justice as "ignorant" and "dumb" in a press conference when he arrived from China early morning today.

Noting that Sereno's term is until 2030, Duterte said this was "too long for an ignorant Chief Justice."

"And so talagang dapat paalisin ka noon pa. B*** ka (You should have been removed even before. You are dumb)," the President said.

But Sereno's camp chose to let the remarks go. 

"Well, it's unfortunate that the discourse will go down to that level. CJ (Chief Justice) will not go to that level of discourse," Lacanilao told CNN Philippines in a phone interview.

Duterte, allies vs. Sereno

The President declared himself an enemy of the Chief Justice on Monday, after she asked in a public forum how he was involved in the quo warranto petition to remove her from office.

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

[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.]

Sereno demanded to know who ordered Calida to file the quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court.  The move came as the justice committee in the House of Representatives had voted to impeach Sereno.

Duterte clarified that he was not asking Congress, as an institution, to impeach Sereno, but was simply calling on his PDP-Laban party mates in the legislature to vote for her ouster. 

Sereno's camp said they hope Congress would be independent of the Executive in its decisions. 

"If there's any form of coalition, or collusion among the three branches, then we lose the checks and balances, the independence of each branch," Lacanilao noted.