Philippines tyrannical President Rodrigo Duterto, as is his habit of long, has told a United Nations humans rights official, who criticized his alleged expulsion of a chief justice, to “go to hell.”
The Philippine Supreme Court voted last month to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom Duterte has called his “enemy” for voting against his controversial policies, citing violations in her appointment procedure.
During the weekend, Duterte disregarded Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers for the UN Diego Garcia-Sayan remarks on the matter and instead, told the UN not to meddle in Philippines’ affairs.
“Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell,” Mr Duterte said in a late-night televised news conference before flying on a visit to South Korea. “He is not a special person and I do not recognize his rapporteur title.”
Sereno, 57, was expelled by an 8-6 vote after Solicitor-General Jose Calida accused her of failing to file asset disclosure when she was a state university law professor years ago. Sereno has denied the allegations but the impeachment proceedings still went underway in Congress.
Sereno has contested the ruling stating top judiciary officials can only be removed by congressional impeachment.
Many in the 23-member Senate, including some of Duterte’s cronies, has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decisions, stating it was a “dangerous precedent” that violated Congress’ power to impeach senior judiciary members.
However, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque argued Duterte had been critical of Sereno but had no hand in her impeachment.
Garcia-Sayan said the chief justice’s dismissal, which came after Duterte publicly accused her of corruption, is a chilling message to other Supreme Courts Judges and judiciary members and could put Philippines democracy in jeopardy.
In an interview in Manila, Garcia-Sayan said Sereno’s dismissal would not generate a formal UN inquiry, but as part of his job, he needed to speak up when he suspected such problems anywhere in the world.
“For a rapporteur of the UN on independence of justice to keep silent when a chief justice in any country in the world, even in my country, would be dismissed in such a way is impossible, and it will be immoral to stay silent,” Garcia-Sayan, who, until recently, was a sitting judge in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
He also expressed hope the Philippines government would answer the questions he sent in regards to Sereno’s May 11 outster and agree to discuss issues which put judiciary’s independence at risk.
The foul-mouthed President Duterte is known for his vicious rants against his critics and for defying international pressure.
Duterte has also railed against former U.S. President Barack Obama and UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, for lambasting his bloody drug war.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao