Sanlakas, a national and multi-sectoral people’s movement, staged a protest action today to condemn what the movement has called a blatant ploy by President Rodrigo Duterte to wrangle power from and undermine the independence of a separate branch of the government, this time the judiciary.
The action coincides with the Jericho March to be staged at the Supreme Court which is expected to draw close to 40,000 protesters in light of the anticipated decision on the quo warranto petition seeking to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno as Supreme Court Chief Justice. Sereno’s ouster according to Sanlakas is “a fascist raid of the judiciary, the last straw that would consolidate the Duterte Regime’s control over all the branches of government.”
“Political maneuvering to control the judiciary or any other government branch that strays from the Executive’s line are hardly new in the history of elite rule in this country. We have seen this not long ago in the previous administration itself where former President Noynoy Aquino had, through the impeachment process in place, removed Former Chief Justice Renato Corona for being, in the main, an appointee of Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa.
“What is alarming now with the glaringly contrived quo warranto petition against Chief Justice Sereno is that Duterte has elevated the usual play from political maneuvering to a forceful thwarting of institutions and processes in place to galvanize his strongman-style of governance, unopposed, unchecked and unchallenged,” continued Pedrosa.
According to him, the manner of conducting the present efforts to oust Chief Justice Sereno are not unlike the policies and governance that have taken place in the Duterte administration thus far.
“This is reminiscent of the bold violence and force that has been the trademark of his rule: from the thousands of killings made in the name of his War on Drugs and the unbridled tyranny of his allies in their leadership over the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Local Government, and the Philippine National Police,” said Pedrosa.
“In a short amount of time, Duterte has managed to be only one branch away from exercising control over virtually all of government,” said Flora Santos of Metro Manila Vendors Alliance.
“This is half of the face of fascism. The other half is mass suffering and suppressed labor power amplified by Duterte’s reaffirmation of age-old neoliberal economic policies. He has continued to burden the Filipino people with rampant labor contractualization and spikes in costs of basic commodities and services due to TRAIN Package 1 alone, topped with ballooning debt for his fantastical infrastructure projects that will be hardly of use to the people that will pay for them out of their own pockets,” said Santos.
“This administration has proven to be an enemy of Filipinos. We must fight back with calls that go beyond a mere clash of personalities and calls that go beyond maintaining the status quo before Duterte and his allies,” said Santos.
According to Santos, amidst the Duterte-Sereno clash, the people are called to organize and establish themselves as the main actor in the growing plight of killings, poverty, and political and economic insecurity.
“Only the people themselves — not a strongman like Duterte or a staple elite like Sereno — are the answer to the people’s clamor for genuine change. Today, we call on every Filipino to mobilize in rejecting and fighting all attempts to install tyrannical rule,” said Santos.
“We must assert the realization of democracy, one that is rooted in the power of the masses,” concluded Santos.