In yet another speech before government troops—this time in Camp Evangelista in Cagayan De Oro City on Tuesday, August 9—President Rodrigo Duterte raised the possibility of declaring martial law if the judiciary gets in the way of his administration's intensified war against illegal drugs.
"Duterte made the remarks after Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno wrote him a letter about the seven judges that Duterte named in his list of alleged coddlers of drug dealers. Sereno had said that the judges Duterte tagged in drug trafficking should not surrender to law enforcers unless there were warrants for their arrest," explains reporter Trisha Macas on GMA News Online.
Addressing Sereno, Duterte said, "Ikaw ang kingpin sa judiciary. Ako, presidente. Ako may trabaho, ikaw wala. Walang mga judges na nagpa-patrol ng daan. Walang mga sheriff ninyo na nanghuhuli."
The President added, "Yan ang mabigat na problema ko... Hindi ako gago. If this continues, pigilan mo ako, o di sige... Or would you rather that I declare martial law?"
The report indicated that Duterte "also raised the possibility of ordering members of the Executive branch to ignore the orders of the judiciary."
An Inquirer report noted that "the President's statements didn't follow his announcement on Monday night, August 8, when he said he would write back to Sereno to explain why he had to include the names of seven judges in the list of suspected drug lords or their coddlers."
Then again, a report by Al Jazeera cited political analyst Richard Javad Heydarian, who observed that Duterte's latest outburst is "consistent with his campaign-period bluster and bravado."
Heyadarian told Al Jazeera, "No surprise there. But obviously it has raised more concern now since some quarters are beginning to question whether he respects the constitutional principle of separation of powers."