An “expression of dislike” and not a “threat to judicial independence.”

This was how Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque described President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

This is after a group of lawyers on Wednesday led by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) asked the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers to investigate the chief executive's tirades against the high magistrate which they deem as a “threat to judicial independence.”

It can be recalled that President Duterte called on Congress to hasten Sereno's impeachment process, even tagging himself as an enemy of the high magistrate after he erupted in anger when Sereno accused him of being behind her ouster.

According to Roque, “let the facts speak for itself,” saying the call to impeach Sereno did not come from the executive department but was instigated by her colleagues at the SC.

During the Philippine Bar Association meeting last week, the high magistrate said the president's response against her “betrays the entire story,” adding that should Solicitor General Jose Calida's quo warranto petition succeed, “the fight against one man rule” is over.

In the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, the high magistrate received a -7 neutral rating – 13 points down from December 2017's +6.

However, this did not surprise the camp of Sereno, saying it was already expected given the “well-orchestrated and well-funded campaign” against the high magistrate.

Sereno currently faces an impeachment proceeding at the Lower House and the quo warranto petition against her in the Supreme Court filed by the OSG.