DAVAO CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for threatening to declare Martial Law if she kept interfering in his anti-drug campaign.
“I apologize to the chief justice. The harsh words were never intended,” Duterte said Friday.
Earlier, Sereno had chided the President for the “premature” release of the names of seven judges who were allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade, and said she would urge the judges not to surrender to the police in the absence of an arrest warrant.
A Court spokesman said Friday that Sereno appreciated Duterte’s gesture, but would say no more on the government’s anti-drug campaign.
The Supreme Court has already ordered an investigation into the alleged involvement of four incumbent judges who were named by President Duterte as protectors of the illegal drug trade.
Sereno said that of the seven so-called “narco judges,” four of them are still active in the judiciary, namely: Judge Exequil Dagala of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Dapa-Socorro, Surigao, Judge Adriano Savillo, Regional Trial Court, Branch 30, Iloilo City, Judge Domingo Casiple, RTC, Branch 7, Kalibo, Aklan and Judge Antonio Reyes, RTC, Branch 61, Baguio City, Benguet.
In a resolution, the Court directed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to submit formal complaint-affidavits against the four judges within seven days and to furnish the judges with a copy of the complaint.
Upon receipt of the complaint-affidavits, the four judges were required to submit their answer to the complaint within seven days.
The Court also appointed retired Associate Justice Roberto Abad to conduct the investigation and submit his recommendation to the SC en banc within 30 days.
Duterte, a former prosecutor and a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, blamed the media for insisting that he reveal the names of public officials who were protecting the drug lords.
“You’ve been demanding [this] from me. When I face you, one of you will stand there saying when are you going to reveal a list [with judges],” he said.
Duterte also denied that his list was outdated—an observation made by one of his own spokesmen.
He said he wanted to reveal the names of all the public officials who were protecting the illegal drug trade, but did not mean to disrespect those who were already dead.
He said he holds another list of names that he will release soon.