Duterte to UN special rapporteur Garcia-Sayan: Go to hell
President Rodrigo Duterte slammed on Saturday United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Diego Garcia-Sayan for his alleged meddling in the Philippine internal affairs after saying that the judicial independence in the country is under threat.
Garcia-Sayan, in a statement on June 1, noted that the Supreme Court's decision ousting Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from her job came two days after Duterte "publicly threatened" her by saying that "she was his enemy and that she should be removed from her job or resign."
“The derogatory statements and threats by President Duterte, which have been televised, broadcast on radio, and carried by newspapers, constitute a vicious attack on the independence of the judiciary,” Garcia-Sayan said.
"He (Garcia-Syan) is not a special person. And I do not recognize his rapporteur title. Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell," Duterte said when asked for his comment on Garci-Sayan's statement before he left for a three-day official visit to South Korea Saturday night.
He insisted that he was not behind Sereno's ouster.
Voting 8-6, the Supreme Court removed Sereno as the chief magistrate via a quo warranto petition.
Sereno has accused Duterte of being behind her ouster since it was Solicitor General Jose Calida who asked the high court to declare null and void her appointment as the chief justice due to her failure to submit all the required copies of her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Earlier, other UN special rapporteurs also earned Duterte's ire for criticizing his bloody war on drugs.
Garcia-Sayan said that Duterte's statements against Sereno did not only constitute direct intimidation of the chief justice.
"They also appear to have had have a ‘chilling effect’ on other Supreme Court justices, who may have been deterred from asserting their judicial independence and exercising their freedom of expression," he said.
He said it is high time for the Philippines "to adopt concrete measures to restore judicial independence, which is enshrined in the national constitution as well as in international human rights treaties."
Garcia-Sayan vowed to continue to follow "the evolutions of the events regarding this very sensitive matter." Celerina Monte/DMS