Sereno rejects media interviews-A A +A
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
MANILA (Updated, 10:57 a.m.) -- Although seen as animated, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno declined requests for media interviews in a bid to bring back the "golden days" of the Supreme Court.
Golden days would mean the justices should be heard through their decisions in several cases to avoid susceptibility to misinterpretation, she said in a one-page statement on Tuesday.
"The judiciary is not a political branch of government. Its role is unique among all other public institutions. It is constitutionally designed to be deliberate, accurate, sober, and carefully balanced before arriving at its decisions and in the presentation of such decisions," Sereno said.
The Chief Justice said she has been invited for interviews since taking oath last Saturday in Malacañang.
However, Sereno said she has to turn down these "urgent and well-meaning" requests so that she can concentrate in "paying attention to the more fundamental and urgent problems besetting the judiciary."
"Fair treatment of all such interview requests from media personalities would require that an agreement would need to be had with media on how such fairness is to be measured, including on the order of schedules with the various interviewers, and other operational concerns," she said.
In contrast, former Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was removed by the Senate impeachment court for misdeclared cash assets last May 29, used the first few days of his abbreviated term to appear in radio and television shows.
Two years ago, Corona assured that he will be independent despite objections to his appointment a month before then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo steps down from power. The Supreme Court actually ruled in the Chief Executive's favor to name justices during a presidential election.
Corona's entanglements with Arroyo, however, partly led to his downfall when he was accused of shielding her from prosecution through the Court's suspension of the watchlist order that barred the Pampanga lawmaker from seeking medical treatment abroad late last year.
Questions about her independence will also be Sereno's top concern if and when she sits for a media interview.
Critics of President Benigno Aquino III said Sereno may re-open the ownership case of the Hacienda Luisita, which the SC said in April must be distributed to thousands of farmworker beneficiaries.
The Cojuangcos, Aquino's maternal relatives, have reportedly asked for a higher compensation but the Court only pegged it to the 1989 rate of P40,000 per hectare. It was in 1989 that the lands were subjected to agrarian reform.
Sereno did not oppose the distribution of the 4,915-hectare sugar plantation but in her dissenting opinion, she said the compensation for the Hacienda Luisita Inc. should be computed at its 2006 valuation.
If Sereno's suggestion is applied, the value of the land would be placed at P2 million to P2.5 million per hectare, resulting in a higher windfall for the Cojuangco-Aquino clan.
Sereno will also receive questions about her reform agenda in the judiciary, considering her 18-year-term as Chief Justice.
In the meantime, the 52-year-old Chief Justice said she will meet the various units in the High Court that will deal with media and the general public in providing information.
"We will seek ways on how to best respond to the needs of media for accurate and timely information. Thank you for your patience," Sereno said.
Sereno will have her first public address as Chief Justice at the 23rd Conference of the Presidents of Law Associations in Asia on Wednesday at The Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.
The event is open for media coverage, according to its organizer the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)