Sereno says there were offers to meet Duterte: He could have ended it

MANILA, Philippines – She is now ousted, and she is directly linking President Rodrigo Duterte to it.

Speaking to media on Friday evening, May 11, after the Supreme Court voted 8-6 to oust her, Maria Lourdes Sereno said Duterte had the ball along.

“If he does not want it, it could have ended. But it did not end. Clear as day,” the chief justice said, no longer trying to beat around the bush.

Sereno said there were “offers” to meet with the President. Media tried to clarify if the Duterte meeting were mere suggestions, or if there was an actual offer.

“May mga talagang, may mga offer, puwede po bang ‘yun ang general na gamitin kong word, pwede na ba yun? Hanggang du’n na lang po at pag iisipan ko pa later on yung tanong mo,” Sereno said.

(There were really offers, can I just use that general word for now? Let's leave it at that for now, and I will think about your question further.)

Sereno said she didn’t take up on the offer, because it was too much of a compromise.

“This is a political contest, impeachment is a political contest. So in the minds of many people, it’s a political solution, but the political solution can be deadly as the problem I want solved,” Sereno said.

She added: “I escaped one problem, which is to avoid going through an impeachment process, only to find myself in the quagmire of perception by the public that I compromised. Can I redeem myself in the eyes of the public if there will always be rumors about me compromising?”

Quo warranto

The first time that Sereno linked Duterte to the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, the President called the Chief Justice his “enemy.”

“I am putting you on notice that I am your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,” the President said on April 9.

Sereno said that Duterte never explained why Calida initiated what she called an unconstitutional move.

“The primary question he has allowed to remain unanswered – why is it the solicitor general filing? The solicitor general that reports to him? He has not answered that. He has full control,” Sereno said.

Sereno refused to comment on concrete plans after the unprecedented ouster, only saying that she would want to be part of a “national conversation” about the flaws of the justice system and how to fix it.

Asked if a Senate run is on her mind, Sereno also did not directly answer.

“Ganito na lang, yung sinasabi dating movement, marami diyan ang naaapi, puwede silang magpadala ng komunikasyon sa grupong ito,” Sereno said, referring to groups pushing for judicial reforms and independence.

(Let's look at it this way, the movement I was talking about – many people are deprived, they can send a communication to this group.) Rappler.com 

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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