Chief Justice appeals: You can trust me-A A +A
Thursday, September 20, 2012
SUPREME Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno yesterday vowed to pursue judicial independence in her next 18 years in office.
“Nais po naming hilingin sa inyo na pagkatiwalaan niyo kami (I appeal for your trust),” Sereno said in her speech during the launching of the enhanced Justice on Wheels program at the Mandaue City Hall of Justice.
While admitting the High Court needs financial support from the National Government, Sereno assured members of the judiciary and non-judge court personnel that she will protect their rights and that of the judiciary.
“Makakaasa po kayo na sa labing walong taon kong panunungkulan, ipaglalaban po natin ang ating (I assure you that in the next 18 years, we will fight for) judicial independence,” Sereno said.
Sereno led the launching past 10 a.m. yesterday. She was accompanied by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, Court Administrator Midas Marquez, Deputy Court Administrators Antonio Eugenio and Raul Villanueva, Court of Appeals justices, judges and court personnel of the lower courts in Cebu and Mandaue. Nepal Supreme Court Chief Justice Ratnakaji shrestha was also present.
In her speech, Chief Justice Sereno said she was happy that the program is “bringing the face of the judiciary to the small people.”
“If there is anything as important as justice to the people, it is that it is felt and that it is heard,” Sereno said.
“I believe that with our joint effort, justice can finally be had by those who need it the most.”
Sereno said the program will only succeed with the cooperation of various local government units, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and public officials.
Since the program was re-launched in 2008, the program visited about 150 provinces and cities, which led to the release of more than 6,000 inmates.
Sereno also vowed to release prisoners who were unjustly detained.
“Every day that a man is unjustly detained, we know that his cries for justice reach out to the heavens,” she said.
The chief justice pointed out the judiciary does not only cater to the rich, the powerful and those who have all the means to defend themselves.
Sereno assured lower court judges to lift their burdens of administrative procedures and requirements “to give more of their attention to attending their cases.”
“Hindi po kami magpapahinga hanga’t hindi naming nasisigurado na ang gulong ng hustisya ay umiikot,” she said.
Associate Justice Associate Justices Mariano Del Castillo said the program aims to provide free and faster justice, particularly to poor inmates.
Castillo said inmates would also be given free legal aid with the assistance of the IBP Cebu City Chapter.
Mandaue City Executive Judge Teresita Galanida said the program “mirrors the vision and the sheer determination of the judiciary to make the courts serve the public better.”
Galanida said the program was conceptualized to increase access to justice by the poor and marginalized sectors of the society.
For her part, Governor Garcia welcomed to Cebu Chief Justice Sereno and other distinguished guests of the program “with a deep sense of hope as well.”
“Hope because this program not only symbolizes, but puts in place in a very concrete way the Supreme Court’s commitment to providing greater access to the courts upon which our people’s concept of justice initially rest,” said Garcia.
Garcia said the program provides answers the people’s hopes in seeing the wheels of justice roll.
“The people of the Province of Cebu and the rest of the country join me in expressing high hopes that under her leadership…sustained reforms of the judiciary will truly begin,” Garcia said.
Mayor Cortes said the program is a “precise and tangible example of moral maturity.”
“This program is a clear pronouncement of the Supreme Court’s immeasurable effort to reach those who need justice the most and those who are in the shadows of light,” said Cortes.
Cortes also lauded Sereno for her recent appointment. “May you continue to embrace the true essence of public service,” Cortes said.
After the launching, Sereno visited the buildings of the Court of Appeals Cebu Station and the Palace of Justice to see the working conditions of members of the judiciary.
During a short dialogue with judges and personnel of the Palace of Justice, Sereno assured them of improvements in their working conditions. Sereno announced the renovations on the structural and engineering designs of the Palace of Justice are underway.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 20, 2012.