By VJ Bacungan, CNN Philippines Updated 09:25 AM PHT Sun, May 14, 2017
(File photo) President Rodrigo Duterte
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte warned the judiciary to stop delaying government projects with temporary restraining orders (TRO) or else face earning his ire.
"Do not wait for me. If I'm p***ed off, 'di ko kayo susundin," he said in a May 13 speech before the Filipino community in Hong Kong. "Ganunin ko yang papel niyo at itapon ko sa mukha mo."
[Translation: Do not wait for me. If I'm p***ed off, I won't follow you. I will take that piece of paper and throw it in your face.]
A TRO is a court order of limited duration that asks the concerned parties to maintain a certain status until the court hears further evidence.
The President also said he would tell law enforcers to listen to him instead of the courts.
"Kung sabihin ko tuloy sa pulis pati sheriff, 'P***ngina, 'wag kayong maniwala diyan, dito kayo sumunod sa akin, eh may kailangan tayo.' "
[Translation: What if I just tell the police and the sheriff, "Son of a whore, don't listen to them, follow me. We need to do things."]
Duterte said the TROs result in the government being unable to accomplish anything.
"Magmukha kaming inutil, tapos ang mga proyekto hindi natatapos," he said. "Do not do it now kasi magkakaproblema tayo sa bayan."
[Translation: We look like fools and projects aren't finished. Do not do it now because it will cause problems in our country.]
He added that losing bidders in government projects are allegedly using TROs to twist the arms of the winning bidder.
"Alam mo minsan kasi, yung natatalo sa bidding, magdedemanda," he said. "Bakit? Hindi kasi agrabyado siya, kung hindi sabihin niya dun sa nanalo, 'Bigyan mo ako kaunti. Bayaran mo na lang ako.' Negosyo 'yan eh. Magbi-bid sila, alam nila matatalo sila."
[Translation: You know sometimes, those who lose in the bidding will file a case. Why? It's not because they are aggrieved, but it's to tell the winner, "Give me a cut of the contract. Just pay me." It's a business. They will bid, even though they know they will lose.]
Duterte's statement in Hong Kong isn't the first time that he criticized the judiciary.
In August 2016, he lashed out at Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who said alleged drug personalities didn't have to turn themselves in unless there was a warrant for their arrest.
READ: Duterte warns Sereno of crisis, martial law if drug efforts thwarted
The President said in a speech in Cagayan de Oro that given the country's slow judicial process, he could not simply wait for arrest warrants to be issued – while letting drug addicts and pushers roam the streets.
He likewise threatened to declare martial law, warning of a possible constitutional crisis in a clash between the Executive and the Judiciary.
"Do not create a crisis because I will order everybody in the executive department not to honor you. Gusto mo ng prangkahan [If you want me to be frank]," he said.
No TROs allowed
Intervention by the courts is among the reasons that the Transportation Department is asking Congress to give Duterte emergency powers to put up much-needed infrastructure and to set up projects.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate filed bills in 2016 as a substitute to the emergency powers.
Sec. 33 of House Bill No. 4334 or the "Traffic Crisis Act of 2016" and Sec. 23 of Senate Bill No. 1284 or the "Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016" both prohibit the issuance of TROs, except by the Supreme Court, for priority projects related to transportation.
Meanwhile, groups are calling for the TRO against the Reproductive Health Law, which was first enacted in 2012, to be lifted.
The TRO was issued after the Health Department acquired around 400,000 contraceptive implants that petitioners claimed could cause abortions.
The Supreme then expanded the TRO to cover other contraceptive products in the Philippine market.
Duterte signed an executive order in January 2017 to provide financial support for modern family planning programs, as part of his 10-point socioeconomic agenda.