SECTIONS
Sunday, August 25, 2019

Malilong: CJ Sereno should not resign

YOU’RE new in the neighborhood and you have unknowingly offended the village bully. He stones your house almost every day. You go to the homeowners’ association for relief but the older members tell you to seriously consider moving out so that the village can once more have peace.

Fair?

No, it’s absurd and it is what they’re doing to Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno. All she did was to remind everyone, including a very powerful someone, that disciplining judges and other court personnel is a function that exclusively belongs to the Supreme Court. Yes, even judges and other court personnel who are accused of involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

That is what the constitution says but the special someone obviously does not like being made to look like he does not know the law. Pretty soon, his minions started talking about impeaching her and in a quick but not surprising turn of events, a lawyer who once ran for senator under the discredited Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, soon filed an impeachment complaint against her in the House of Representatives.

That set in motion a frenzy of activities that saw many of Sereno’s colleagues being summoned to testify in the House committee hearings held to determine the existence of probable cause even after the lawyer complainant himself admitted that he had no personal knowledge of the meatier allegations in his complaint.

Sereno is not the easiest person to like, it apears. Not only was she an “outsider” when she was appointed Chief Justice, her leadership style did not appeal (and that’s an understatement) to her colleagues. She was a lone ranger, not a consensus seeker, we have been told.

The House sat on the Sereno impeachment case, refusing to forward it to the Senate for trial even after many witnesses have testified against her. They were still searching for evidence to nail her. They refused to admit it, of course, but it was clear that they have not found probable cause yet.

In the meantime, the case was being built against her in the bar of public opinion. She has not filed her Statement of Assets and Liabilities and that was a mortal sin, her critics averred. The Republic’s chief lawyer seized upon the non-compliance to initiate legal proceedings that were heretofore unheard of in the history of Philippine jurisprudence in respect to an impeachable official.

The Supreme Court did not dismiss the quo warranto petition outright, ordering instead that Sereno file her comments and appear for the oral arguments that it scheduled. Her colleagues had earlier persuaded her to go on leave, ostensibly to giver her sufficient time to prepare her defense in the impeachment case. On or about the same time, there were “appeals” for her to resign, the loudest from some judges and court employees, allegedly to save the judiciary.

Sereno’s reputation is being savaged on a regular basis. There is a system and a purpose to it. They want her to step down. She should not. She should stand up to oppression. That’s the greatest service she can give not only to the judiciary but to the Republic.
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