New Chief Justice to meet Cebu’s judges

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012


SUPREME Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno makes her first visit in Cebu City today to meet local trial court judges, barely a month after her appointment on Aug. 24.

Sereno will be at the Cebu International Convention Center at 9 a.m. for a dialogue with the local judges.

In an interview, Judge Ester Veloso said trial court judges in Cebu City welcome Sereno.

“It is an honor for all women judges like me that at last a woman has been appointed as Chief Justice,” Veloso, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 6, told reporters.

Sereno’s appointment is historic, said Veloso, who is also the regional director of the Philippines Women Judges Association.

“We pin our hopes on the Chief Justice that she will continue to protect the interest of the judiciary,” Veloso, a Family Court judge, said.

Veloso said the judges in Cebu City assured Sereno of their support and cooperation.

Judge James Stewart Himalaloan said the dialogue with local judges will be a sort of a team-building and a getting-to-know session with the members of the judiciary in Cebu City.

Himalaloan said he hopes Sereno will succeed in her effort to introduce reforms in the judiciary in the next 18 years.

Sereno is the 24th chief justice and the first woman to be appointed to the highest position in the judiciary. She took her oath of office before President Benigno Aquino III on Aug. 25.

Sereno replaced Renato Corona, who was booted out of office for incorrectly declaring his peso and dollar deposits in his annual statement of assets and liabilities.

Among those who lauded the appointment of Sereno was Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles of the Court of Appeals Cebu Station.

“She is very qualified and she deserves the position,” Ingles had told Sun. Star Cebu.

He said it’s also important for Sereno to get the cooperation of other justices.

Ingles said Sereno must strive to promote an image of the judiciary as independent, competent and honest.

Michael Yu, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City chapter president, said Sereno’s appointment “reflects the seriousness of the PNoy administration to reform the SC.”

“We will see better days in the judiciary soon. It is not novel to appoint a non-senior associate despite the credentials,” Yu said.

Truth

Sereno and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who topped the shortlist of eight nominees, used to belong in the minority in the High Court.

They both voted to uphold the Truth Commission, a body created by Aquino to investigate the alleged wrongdoings of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The High Court declared as unconstitutional Executive Order (EO) 1, which formed the Commission.

Voting 10-5, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that the commission “violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution as it singles out investigation of graft and corrupt practices in the previous administration.”

Sereno also dissented in the grant of the temporary restraining order against the Department of Justice to allow Arroyo to travel abroad.

In her dissenting opinion, Sereno said Arroyo gave “inconsistent, and probably, untruthful statements” before the High Court, particularly about the real status of her health, which her camp used to seek provisional remedy to travel abroad.

At that time, Sereno, one of five associate justices who voted against the issuance of the TRO, wanted a hearing before granting the provisional relief.

Sereno also opposed the move of the House of Representatives to stop the impeachment proceedings of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 19, 2012.

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