Cabaero: Her appointment

IT was a Friday, August 24, 2012, when then President Benigno Aquino III appointed Maria Lourdes Sereno as the country’s 24th Chief Justice.

Her appointment happened three days before the deadline for the president to fill the vacancy caused by the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, and it came at a sad time when Aquino and his Cabinet were mourning the death of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

The Constitution mandates that the President fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court within 90 days of its occurrence, or by August 27 in the case of the vacancy caused by Corona’s impeachment. Officials of the Aquino administration were then still mourning Robredo who died days earlier, or on August 18, 2012, in a plane crash. It took many by surprise when Aquino named Sereno.

With the decision of the Supreme Court last Friday to remove Sereno as Chief Justice by granting the petition for quo warranto, there were questions about how and why Sereno was picked to lead the Judiciary.

I disagree with the justices’ decision to grant the quo warranto petition and invalidate Sereno’s appointment in 2012. I stand by the call to give Sereno due process and for the justices to review their decision. There are calls for Sereno to appear before the impeachment court which could still happen despite the quo warranto decision but this would be messy. Before the decision last Friday, I too believed Sereno should face impeachment proceedings before the Senate to explain her incomplete Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

The surprise appointment of Sereno was historic because she became the first female Chief Justice of the country and the second youngest at the age of 52. (Second youngest because post-war Chief Justice Manuel Moran was 51 when he was appointed in 1945.)

Many welcomed her appointment in 2012, among them Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, but there were warnings she would not get the justices’ support. She was young among seasoned lawyers and she would be seen as an obstacle to their possible appointment to Chief Justice.

At 52, Sereno would have remained Chief Justice for another 18 years, under three more presidents after Aquino, because retirement age for the Supreme Court top official is 70.

The pressure on Sereno became evident immediately after she issued statements from late 2016 against the extra-judicial killing of drug suspects. She said government should uphold the rule of law, and she told judges, named by President Rodrigo Duterte as those in the illegal drug trade, to ignore calls for them to surrender or present themselves to the police without a warrant of arrest that is pending.

Her stance placed her in direct contrary position to President Duterte’s.

It is always good to read up on what went before and watch closely what will happen after because there are lessons here for the long-term stability of the country.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.