EMBATTLED Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno challenged her detractors to begin the impeachment trial against her in the Senate as she reiterated she will not heed to the calls for her to resign.
Sereno was in Bacolod City on Tuesday, March 14, to address some 1,200 students at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in a forum dubbed as “The Road to Judicial Reform: Achieving Justice through the Rule of Law,” where she urged the young audience to fight for an independent judiciary.
During the forum, she said the call for her to resign is not founded on reason but only on convenience.
Sereno said: "I did not start the squabbling. I was silent but I was pressured and they did not give me my right in the lower house. They did not allow me to cross-examine the witnesses. Now I'm only asking to be heard. I am only asking that my side is heard in the Senate. Is that too much? Isn’t that a basic right of every citizen?”
She said she is very proud of the stand of the Regional Trial Court judges in Negros Occidental for staying neutral on the impeachment case against her.
"I don't ask for any statement of support. Just give me my day in the Senate impeachment court. After all, they are so proud of repeatedly saying that they have the evidence against me. If that is so, bring it now in the real trial proceeding and let us see who has the truth,” Sereno pointed out.
The impeachment petition against Sereno was filed by lawyer Harry Gadon for alleged psychological deficiencies for the chief justice position, purported extravagance in travel and vehicle, failure to declare many millions of pesos in income, and apparent manipulation of high court resolutions and judicial and bar council proceedings.
Rule of law
In Tuesday’s forum, Sereno appealed to the students not to join in the political mudslinging but rather for the Filipinos to unite to uphold the rule of law and due process.
"Shortcuts cannot save our nation...they want peace but what is peace if there is no justice. Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice. That is why when you are standing on a just cause when you know that you are speaking for the truth and your conscience is clear and you are working not for personal agenda but for the whole country, then you must fight for it,” Sereno stressed.
She further said she was subjected to pressure, false accusations and fake news.
She recalled the basic principles in life inculcated to her by her parents which are “don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t take advantage of others.”
Sereno refused media interview after her well-applauded speech, but she addressed some questions during the forum. She also went around the UNO-R gymnasium for “selfies” and “groufies” with the students.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Association of Court Employees-Negros is also asking their members not to engage in any political agenda like some of the court employees.
"This is a very difficult time for us, the court employees, but we should stand our ground and not allow us to be used by others for their own agenda,” the group said in a statement.
“We will continue to discharge our function and duties with dignity and faith to our judicial system,” they added.