Ma. Lourdes Sereno interviewed by BBC
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - June 15, 2018 - 12:00am

I spent my early morning watching the British Broadcasting Company’s frank and honest interview of ousted Supreme Court chief justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno yesterday as it was publicized by many of my Facebook friends. BBC’s Stephen Sackur, on his hard-hitting program ‘Hard Talk,’ interviewed Sereno. Sackur began his program with an opening statement, virtually attacking President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines that has cost thousands of lives. His human rights record has attracted international condemnation and prompted charges of authoritarianism. Yet he has an approval rating unheard of in most democracies. This program started very well.

The last time I saw Sackur interview anyone it was against Sen. Antonio Trillanes whom he literally pounded into smithereens. But since this time he was interviewing an ousted chief justice, I thought it was a great opportunity for Sereno to have the world as her stage. Unfortunately for Sereno, there were instances she would not give a direct answer. In short, I dare you to listen to that interview so you can see for yourself that the Supreme Court did the right thing in getting rid of her because she didn’t fit her role as chief justice.

Rather than me writing where Sereno failed to reply to Sackur, I would rather ask those who are reading this piece to Google that interview so you can see it for yourself. My simple take on that interview is, it is more than enough excuse for the Supreme Court not to grant her appeal before them. Sackur said it rightly that she should not question the SC decision, as it was a judicial decision and not a political one.

I loved the last question posed by Sackur when he asked Sereno whether she was running for senator or even president? Of course Sereno didn’t answer him directly. But from the way things are going, I’m sure that Sereno would take a crack at being a senator and this is something that she can probably achieve with her popularity.

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I read the latest report from the Consultative Committee (Concom), which has proposed to prohibit a term extension of President Duterte but wants to allow him to seek reelection under a federal government. Hmmm, this issue should become a subject for debate if you ask me. Former senator and Concom member Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said they are now identifying the concerns that need to be threshed out in the transitory provisions, including the term extension of the president. It just makes me wonder what President Duterte thinks about this topic. Knowing him, I’m sure that he is not interested to seek an extension of his term.

However, I also would like to believe that since it is President Duterte who is promoting and selling the issue of Federalism to the nation, I would like to believe that former senator Nene Pimentel is right in giving the president a single reelection term so he could be the first president of the Federal Republic of the Philippines. Of course, this is going to be a very delicate issue that would be the subject of intense debate between those who believe in a Federal Republic of the Philippines and those who do not want to change our Constitution.

Former senator Pimentel added that there are proposals to give state employees who will be affected by the transition the option to either accept new assignments in new federated regions or opt for early retirement.

The Concom is also discussing how and when powers will be given to officials in the federated regions, including taxation issues in each region that will be created. In short, if and when we achieve Federalism, we would need a leader like President Duterte to lead this nation into this new political era.

So it is best to start the debate now on whether the Concom is right in allowing President Duterte a single opportunity to seek reelection in order to be the first President of the Federal Republic of the Philippines. But what we really want from the Concom is to regulate the politician’s term limits so that it gives others a chance to run for public office and serve our country.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

LOURDES SERENO
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