Duterte apologizes to Sereno for his 'harsh' words

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte, in a rare moment, apologized for his "harsh" reaction to the letter of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno about his list of supposed drug personalities.

"I apologize to the Chief Justice for the harsh words. It was never intended," said the President on Thursday, August 11, during a press conference in Davao City.

Duterte said he regretted his verbal "tangle with Sereno.

He said his public naming of government officials supposedly into drugs, including 7 judges, is his way of putting an end to the spread of drugs in the country.

"But ako kasi (me), because of the magnitude of the problem, it was my way of solving the problem within the ambit of my powers as president," said Duterte.

He, however, repeated his belief that requiring warrants of arrest before making moves against drug protectors would take too long.

The Chief Justice said on Friday, August 12, that she "appreciated" Duterte's statement.

"The Chief Justice appreciates the President's latest remarks. As previously announced, she would no longer say anything on this matter," Sereno said in a statement read by Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te.

In response to the President's public naming of 158 local government officials, judges, and police nearly a week ago, Sereno wrote a letter expressing her concern for the "premature" announcement and its possible implications on the persons in the list.

A defensive Duterte reacted angrily, saying Sereno was out of touch with events on the ground and not appreciative of the urgency of the drug problem.

He even threatened martial law should his efforts be thwarted and the drug problem be allowed to turn the country into a narcostate. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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