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Don’t meddle with PH affairs, Duterte tells UN rapporteur

MANILA – United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Diego Garcia-Sayan should not interfere with Philippine affairs, President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday, in response to the former’s concerns on the president’s alleged public threats against former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

“Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell,” Duterte said in a press conference before departing for his first official visit to South Korea slated June 3-5.

“That’s an internal problem of the country. You should not meddle,” he added, noting he neither considers Sayan a special person nor recognizes his rapporteur title.

He reiterated that he never interfered with Sereno’s ouster and that it was all Solicitor General Jose Calida’s doing.

“I don’t care about that impeach, that quo warranto. Calida is doing it,” Duterte said.

Voting 8-6, the Supreme Court granted on May 11 the quo warranto petition filed by Calida against Sereno.

Duterte said anyone is free to ask any lawmaker if he had pressured them into impeaching Sereno.

Malacañang earlier said Sayan has been misinformed when he reportedly said judicial independence in the Philippines is under threat.

“We find it unfortunate that Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayan has been misinformed on the case surrounding the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Roque reiterated that President Duterte’s dislike of Sereno is not an attack on the judiciary or an affront to judicial independence.

“It is a reaction to the allegations made by former CJ Sereno against the Chief Executive in many public fora saying the latter is behind her impeachment/quo warranto petition,” he said.

He added that Malacañang recognizes the SC’s independence and respects the separation of powers among the three branches of government.#