Sanchez: Judicial independence and neutrality

SO TRUE. "We are not politicians. We do not have the luxury of publicly expressing our sentiments, unless prompted by the situation. This is one of those times that our voices need to be heard," says the Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court Judges Association (NORTCJA).

No one would have known that it was a sign of protest - to conduct business as usual at the Hall of Justice last Monday or for the rest of the week by wearing office uniform instead of the recommended red T-shirts.

The NORTCJA officers and members said they are not joining the call for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign, and are staying neutral. At the Philippine Mediation Center, the staff and mediators were unaware that was an ongoing protest action.

The NORTCJA officers and members, in an official statement said they are saddened by the recent pronouncements from some court personnel, employees' associations and unions calling for the resignation of the Chief Justice.

“As an organization, we value consensus-building and this matter has been discussed among our members. The consensus is clear: we are and should be neutral," the Negros judges said.

The Negrense judges said they do not wish to be part of the issues besetting the Supreme Court and its personnel as their priority is to keep the courts open and to serve the people.

"We call for sobriety and prudence. We ask our fellow judges to remember our oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law; to be impartial and reserve judgment until all evidence have been presented; to be non-partisan and let due process take its course. We stand for an independent judiciary," the NORTCJA said. Amen.

The first sign that Negrense judges will not heed the call was from Prayer and Life Workshop "classmate" Sis Del (RTC Branch 43 Philadelfa Agriavador). She called for judicial independence in her Facebook account.

Bravo to Judges Kathrine Go (Branch 59, San Carlos City), NORTCJA president, followed suit with the NORTCJA statement in conformity of judges Frances Guanzon (Branch 62, Bago City), Dyna Doll Chiongson-Trocio (Branch 40, Silay City), Blanche Therese Bolunia (Branch 47, Bacolod City) - treasurer;

Amy Avellano (Branch 58, San Carlos City), Rosario Ester Orda-Caise (Branch 48, Bacolod City), Ana Celeste Bernad (Branch 44, Bacolod City), Reginald Fuentebella (Branch 73, Sagay City), , Mila Yap-Camiso (Branch 74, La Carlota City);

Estefanio Libutan Jr. (Branch 50, Bacolod City), Cyclamen Fernandez (Branch 63, La Carlota City), Walter Zorilla (Branch 55, Himamaylan City), Gwendolyn Jimenea (Branch 60, Cadiz City), Edwin Gomez (Branch 77, Sipalay City), Eduardo Sayson (Branch 54, Bacolod City), Edgar Tupas (Branch 46, Bacolod City), and Rodney Magbanua (Branch 61, Kabankalan City).
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