A divided judiciary
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann Ll. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2018 - 12:00am

We cannot make sure whether or not the judiciary supports the resignation or removal from office of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

There are two things that we are sure of though. First is that the Chief Justice, who is known for shying away from speaking engagements and other conferences, is now highly visible, accepting invitations left and right in the hope of drumming up support for her cause. Second, is that members of the judiciary, as well as employees of the Supreme Court and the lower courts, are divided on the matter.

There are those who have chosen to remain neutral. For them, the Supreme Court is not the Chief Justice and vice-versa. They support the rule of law and stand with the institution, not with the personalities on the bench. They refuse to be used by either side, insisting on judicial independence.

Former chief justice Hilario Davide, in an open letter, has expressed concern over the apparent politicization of the judiciary, referring in particular to calls from certain judges and court employees for Sereno to resign immediately and not wait for the results of the impeachment process, or even the quo warranto case filed by the Office of the Solicitor General. According to Davide, the call or demand to resign openly disregards the requirements of fairness and due process.

Davide claims that if there is anything that will destroy the faith of the people in the judiciary, it is the perception that judges themselves are unwilling to await the results of a constitutional proceeding or a statutory process. He has called on the judges and employees of the judiciary to respect the fight of the Chief Justice to fairness, justice, due process, and the rule of law.

It seems the call or demand for the Chief Justice to resign is useless as Sereno has already announced that she will fight this battle to the end. There are judges who have refused to sign a manifesto calling for Sereno’s resignation, not because they support the Chief Justice, but because they want to maintain their neutrality.

What is saddening, though, is that this rift in the judiciary has resulted in the waste of the precious time of members of the bench.

Sereno should brace herself for a very dirty and tough battle ahead. Some view the Corona impeachment as a sham and which was referred to by the late chief justice as bribe-laden, referring to claims that senators who voted for his conviction received additional pork barrel funds. There was no fairness, justice, due process. I wonder, therefore, if indeed, Sereno will have her so-called day in court and if the case will be decided based on evidence.

If Sereno should resign, it is not because she cannot defend herself, or because her case is weak. If the Corona impeachment proceeding and the graft case filed against him were any indication of things to come, then Sereno may consider resigning to prevent the politicians from having their field day. At the end of the day, whether it be via the impeachment process or the quo warranto proceeding, politics will still decide the outcome. Whether we like it or not.

If Sereno still insists on staying, then I wish the Chief Justice all the best. After all, this is going to be one hell of an uphill battle.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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