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Duterte spokesman describes Chief Justice Sereno as ‘may tama’

MANILA, Philippines – Citing an interpretation of a psychological test deemed questionable even by psychologists, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque described Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as "may tama" (not right in the head).

He said this during a Facebook video interview with Maharlika, rabid Duterte supporter, on Friday, March 9. The interview largely focused on slamming President Rodrigo Duterte's female critics.

"Kung ang pagbabasehan ay mga kilala nang mga psychological testing ay medyo may tama nang konti itong si CJ," said Roque.

(If we will use as basis those known in psychological testing, CJ's kind of not right in the head.)

Duterte's spokesman then said that the psychological assessment cited during the House hearing on the Sereno impeachment complaint should not just be ignored.

"Hindi naman natin pupuwedeng bale-walain iyan, eh sabi nga mayroon nang tama eh 'no," said Roque. (We can't just set it aside when it says she's not right in the head.)

"Eh hindi ba kapag ikaw ay may tama at 'tinago mo iyan, iyan ay betrayal of public trust?" he continued (Isn't it considered betrayal of public trust when you don't disclosed that you're not right in the head?)

What psychologists' association says: However, the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) has said it is "misleading" to say that Sereno had failed a psychological evaluation.

After the House hearing, the group said no one passes or fails a psychological test. (READ: Can a psych report be used in Sereno impeachment?)

"Instead, a psychologist recommends a person to a position after the assessment indicates that he/she possesses the characteristics that fit the demands of the given position," PAP noted.

PAP also said that if an assessment is based on just one method or from secondhand reports, "then conclusions about 'mental disturbance' based on alleged symptoms that indicate such a condition are misleading, if not inaccurate."

What the House committee's resource person said: During the House hearing on February 27, clinical psychologist Geraldine Tria stated categorically before House lawmakers that she would not have recommended Sereno for chief justice of the Supreme Court "based on the findings" and her assessment of Sereno's personality.

Tria based her evaluation and conclusion on 2012 and 2014 Manila Times articles, as well as the House deliberations. She had never interviewed or even interacted with Sereno. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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