Sereno skirts Charter change issue

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Thursday, August 28, 2014


CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno declined to comment on Thursday on President Benigno Aquino III's openness to weaken the judiciary through Charter change, saying she should not be answering political questions.

"I cannot give an opinion on another person's opinion even if it is the President's. I will have to reserve an opinion or decision-making to the time when a justiciable issue is already before the Court," she said in a press conference at Bayleaf Hotel in Manila.

(Video by Virgil B. Lopez/Sunnex)

Aquino has broached the idea of amending the Constitution to clip the powers of the SC, thinking that the Court has broken the balance of power between the three branches of government when it ruled against the Executive department in the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

He said the SC has committed "judicial overreach", a position hit by lawyers and even Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The 1987 Constitution empowers the judiciary to determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion on any act of any branch of government.

This provision was included to prevent a submissive judiciary, which was the case during martial law when then President Ferdinand Marcos ruled the country for more than 20 years from 1965.

Protests had been conducted left and right to stop Aquino and his allies from amending the Constitution, as militants fear that it will only result in another dictatorship.

Sereno also maintained her position not to appear at the hearing of the House of Representatives on the possible misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF).

She said the SC will send representatives only after the resolution of the appeals to the DAP decision, which triggered the congressional investigation.

"I hope that people will appreciate that when decisions are made, this is actually for a long-term. It shouldn't be episodic. It will help if people can wait," the chief justice said.

Sereno said the JDF is subjected to regular audit of the Commission on Audit (COA), which has not found irregularity on disbursements so far. (Sunnex)

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