(Eagle News) – “Hihina rin po si Pangulong Duterte.”
This was how controversial former Supreme Court justice Maria Lourdes Sereno warned supporters of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as she enjoined people to join in preventing what he said were wrong policy directions that were being implemented by the president.
“Kailangang pigilan ang maling direksyon na dinadala sa atin ni Pangulong Duterte. Tandaan nyo po, mga kawani sa gobyerno, sundalo, pulis, secretary, undersecretary, hihina rin po si Pangulong Duterte,” she said in a pre-SONA press conference of progressive groups critical of President Duterte on Tuesday.
“Yung mga pangako nya sa inyo na pagtatakpan nya ang mga pagkakamali nyo. Ano ang tatanganan nyo? Paano niyo haharapin ang Diyos mismo?” she said.
Sereno, who was removed from office as chief magistrate last year in a quo warranto case that also invalidated her previous position, said she was not going to be silent anymore and vowed to be more visible.
Sereno participated in the press conference where leftist, militant and progressive groups vowed to hold what they called a “kontra-SONA” or a United People’s SONA on Monday, July 22, 2019, on the day of President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
When she was asked to characterize her call to action, she said that she was leaving it to the public.
“Ang alam ko lang makikiisa ako sa mga lumalaban para sa demokrasya,” Sereno said.
“Maaaring hindi ako dating nakikita. Ngunit hindi ibig sabihin na hindi ako magpapakita,” she said.
Sereno then made this call: “Kaya yung mga hindi natin nakikita sa ganitong larangan ng pagkilos, magpakita na ho kayo.”
-Malacanang not bothererd by Sereno’s call-
Malacanang, however, was not bothered by her call for mobilization, saying she was free to fight for democracy.
“Aba eh, sama ako sa kanya kung lumalaban siya sa demokrasya dahil dapat talaga ipagtanggol natin ang demokrasya,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“If she will join the opposition to exercise her freedom of expression, then by all means, we will egg her to do that,” he said.
Panelo said Sereno is also free to join opposition rallies.
“Baka naman she wants to join the rallies. Okay lang naman sa amin ang mga rallies against this government. In fact, it’s the President who encourages that because under the Constitution: legitimate grievances against the government can be freely expressed,” he explained.
“Ang problema pag ano na, you perform acts which are seditious as defined by law,” he added.