Judges, court employees urge Sereno to quit post

MANILA — Various organizations in the judiciary on Monday called on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign from her post.

In a joint statement, the Philippine Judges Association (PJA), Supreme Court Employees Association (SCEA), Supreme Court Assembly of Lawyer Employees (SCALE), Philippine Association of Court Employees (PACE) and the Sandiganbayan Employees Association (SEA) urged Sereno to step down to save the judiciary from “disrepute that affects the honor and integrity of justices, judges, and court employees.”

Kami ang buong puwersa ng Hudikatura, na kinabibilangan ng mga huwes, opiysal at mga kawani sa ilalim ng inyong pamamahala, ay nakikiusap sa Inyo, mahal naming Punong Mahistrado, Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno pang Gawin ang na ang napapanahon at nararapat na sakripisyo para sa ating Hudikatura, ang Institusyon na inyong pinaglalaanan ng panahon at pagmamahal ng mga nakalipas na taon. Kami po ay nananawagan, para na rin po sa kapakanan ng buong Sambayanang Pilipino, na kayo ay bumaba na sa puwesto bilang Punong Mahistrado o Chief Justice (We, the entire force of the judiciary, which includes judges, officials and court employees under your leadership, are pleading you, our beloved Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, to do the timely and necessary sacrifice for the institution that you gave so much time and love in these past year. We are calling for the benefit of the entire Filipino community, to step down to your post as Chief Justice),” said the joint statement read by SCEA President Erwin Ocson.

The statement was signed by Ocson, PJA President and Marikina RTC Judge Felix Reyes, SCALE President Atty. Rene B. Enciso, PACE President Atty. Maria Fe O. Maloloy-On and SEA President Mike Balon.

“The pending impeachment proceedings in recent months have put the entire judiciary in disrepute, thereby affecting the honor and integrity of its justices, judges, officials have pitted against each other resulting in a distressing atmosphere. This is aggravated by the fact that the Court en banc has taken cognizance of the petition for quo warrants and ordered her to file her comment thereto, instead of dismissing it outright. The Court can no longer endure a prolonged environment of this kind. Its officials and personnel, truly dedicated and conscientious public servants, cannot go through another set of hearings and go against each other again in the Senate,” they noted.

The groups also called on Sereno to save herself from being judged “as the first woman Chief Justice, and the youngest at that, to be removed from office”.

PJA is SC-authorized association of regional trial court (RTC) judges with about 1,200 incumbent members nationwide while PACE is a nationwide organization of court employees.

Judges and court employees nationwide wore red in Monday’s flag raising to show their support for Sereno’s resignation.

Sereno, however, maintained she would not bow down to pressure and step down as demanded by her accusers and critics.

“The oath I have taken is to protect the Constitution, the independence of the judiciary and to take a stand for every judge whose freedom of conscience I have consistently done my best to defend,” Sereno stressed. “All kinds of lies, threats, harassment and bullying have been thrown my way. But I will not yield.”

Pending the impeachment trial in the Senate, the Chief Justice urged her colleagues to “dispel all thoughts and impulses of malice and ill will for they serve no good purpose and bring nothing but shame.”

“We must denounce gossiping and unfounded innuendos and try our best to preserve our dignity as members of the judiciary. And, true to our oath as judges, we do not judge anyone until all the evidence is in.”

On Thursday, the House committee on justice overwhelmingly voted, 38-2, in finding probable cause to impeach Sereno.

The impeachment complaint contains four grounds, including corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and other high crimes.

In almost all of her public appearances and statements of her lawyers, Sereno had urged the House committee on justice and the House of Representatives to file the impeachment complaint against her before the Senate so she could present her evidence and have her “day in court.”

Aside from impeachment, a quo warranto case had been filed against Sereno before the SC by Solicitor General Jose C. Calida for her failure to submit the 10 statements of assets, liabilities and networth (SALNs) required of her when she applied for the position of chief justice.

Acting on the petition, the SC, as a full court, had directed Sereno to comment in 10 days on the petition upon receipt of notice.

Earlier, Sereno’s lawyers had said that Calida’s quo warranto petition should be dismissed outright “for lack of basis in law and in the Constitution.” PNA-northboundasia.com