The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte warns judiciary vs “playing” with TROs on gov’t projects

May 16, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Tuesday he would not tolerate the judiciary in issuing temporary restraining orders (TROs) that will delay implementation of government projects. This was despite the separation of powers by the executive department and the judiciary. "I am now addressing myself to the judiciary. Do not, do not, for Christ’s sake, do not play  with TROs because if it's like that, you keep on issuing TROs, and there comes the delay, I’ve been telling you: Do not force me to disobey you," said Duterte in Davao City when he arrived from his trip abroad. He said with the TRO, the implementation of projects gets stalled. Duterte said the TROs have become sources of corruption by some erring judges as well as the lossing bidders. "Don't do it, we will quarrel. That's for sure. If you start to mess up with the court processes just to earn money or to the contending parties, or you yourself will be paid, do not do it, I said. We are on the edge. I won't allow because I know it’s plain corruption," Duterte said. Duterte said he did not want his administration's efforts of seeking for investors and funding sources to implement big infrastructure projects to go to waste just because of those TROs. Without naming names, the President said there were judges at the lower courts and even at the Court of Appeals who have been making the issuance of TROs as a business. "You courts, you do not decide. We decide what is good for this are there to interpret the law. Do not decide for us because we are the ones looking for money, we are also the ones implementing the project. And then you will just issue TROs, knowing fully well that it is really a corrupt practice. Stop it," he said. He also urged the Supreme Court to do something about it. Last January, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals have issued only one TRO each against infrastructure projects since 2012 and 2013. In 2015, there were 2,039 petitions for TROs filed with the appeals court but only 50 or 2.45 percent were granted and none concerned government projects, Sereno said. Shortly after he assumed office in June last year, Duterte has been asking Congress to grant him emergency powers to speed up the processes in the implementation of the government projects, particularly those which could help solve the traffic woes in the country. But Congress has yet to act on the request. "If the Congress would want to give it to me, fine. It would expedite things. But if they are fearful of corruption there because there will be no bidding (due) to emergency powers, then they have every right to doubt," Duterte said. "But I said I would not insist on it. If they do not feel safe or comfortable with my Cabinet, fine. But I told them that corruption has no place in my government. There will never be the thing about  large-scale corruption. I will not allow it," he added. (Celerina Monte/DMS)