Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was in Cebu yesterday to attend the opening of the three-day convention of clerks of court across the Philippines. She also spoke about judicial reforms before students from the different law schools in Cebu.
Sereno admits being affected by ‘politics’
Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Freeman) - February 22, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno yesterday admitted that she is starting to feel the pinch of political pressure.

While she did not mention a particular issue, Sereno, who is facing an impeachment complaint before the Lower House, said the “very noisy political exercise is affecting the head of the judiciary.”

In August last year, 25 lawmakers, including Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, endorsed the impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno.

Gadon accused Sereno of having a lavish lifestyle, acting unilaterally on some SC matters that required en banc approval, and allegedly misdeclaring her wealth.

But amid the accusations, Sereno yesterday said her commitment to public service will not waver.

“The world does not stop simply because people want to give you distractions and impede your words.

The most exciting thing in your life is to get to your goals even though there are some people who are trying to throw obstacles along the way,” she said.

The chief justice likewise denied having a hand in a recent Ombudsman decision dismissing Garcia for allegedly developing the controversial Balili property in the City of Naga without authority of the Provincial Board at the time when she was still governor.

Garcia now represents Cebu’s third district in the Congress.

“I have absolutely nothing to do with her predicament,” Sereno said.

Garcia earlier said her active participation in the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Sereno had prompted Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to order her dismissal.

Judicial reforms

Sereno was in Cebu yesterday to attend the opening of the three-day convention of clerks of court across the Philippines.  She also spoke about judicial reforms before students from the different law schools in Cebu.

Among the judicial reforms embarked by the judiciary are the Enterprise Information Systems Plan (EISP) and the so-called electronic courts (eCourts) which seek to automate hearings.

Updated in 2014, the EISP is a five-year ICT Master Plan that identifies around 12 application systems to automate the raffling, processing, and management of cases, increase personnel productivity, and automate back-end or administrative processes.

Some 274 courts in the Philippines already have an eCourt. Of this number, 159 have automated their hearings, allowing courts to issue orders immediately.

Previously, this step would take about a month because the orders had to be sent to litigants by mail.

Sereno also expressed optimism about the prospects of building P1-billion judiciary complex at the South Road Properties in Cebu City, though she did not provide the timeline for its construction.

“The terms of billing is still being drawn up now. We are trying our best to jumpstart the project. There have been changes in the plan,” she said.  The complex is envisioned to consolidate all the courts in Cebu City, including the trial courts and the Court of Appeals, and include a hearing room for the Sandiganbayan and offices for the Supreme Court.

To the youth

In her speech before students, Sereno urged the youth to follow their conscience and not what the majority says.

“You must stand your ground. You must rise higher than your elders. If you find yourself in the position to right a wrong, please do so,” she told them.

However, challenging the status quo does not mean fighting against person or an organization, she said, but rather fighting a culture that prevails when people stop hoping.

“My work is being laid out in preparation for you to take over. We, in the older generation, are charged to soften the ground for you. So when the new generation steps in, you will see a far better environment than what we have when we started,” Sereno said.

When asked if she is planning to run for an elective position, Sereno said politics is not the be-all and end-all of public service. Public servants, she added, should work where they are best at.  (FREEMAN)


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