(L-R) Senators Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara, Kiko Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Members of the Senate reacted on the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno from her position as chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC.)
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV called it “the darkest hour in our democracy” and accused the eight justices who favored the quo warranto petition against Sereno as “killing” the country’s justice system.
“The Supreme Court, which is supposed to be the cradle of our fragile Constitution, is the same body that killed it. Those SC justices who committed this heinous crime against our justice system must not and will not go unpunished,” he said.
Senator Bam Aquino, meanwhile, maintained that the SC ruling is not the rightful process to remove Sereno as it is the Senate, to convene as an impeachment court, is what the law requires. He added that the ruling would definitely have its repercussion on ordinary people in the future.
“Ano pa ang laban ng karaniwang Pilipino kung ang Chief Justice ay kayang tanggalin nang basta-basta at hindi batay sa tamang proseso?…Binalewala ang prosesong nakasaad sa Saligang Batas. Natanggalan ang publiko ng karapatang malaman ang totoo at suriin ang kaso. Tila ang may kapangyarihan na lang ang magdidikta ng hustisya. Talo na naman ang mga Pilipinong walang kalaban-laban,” he said.
For his part, Senator Kiko Pangilinan said the ruling was a show of “disrespect” to the Constitution. He insisted that the Court should have let the impeachment process proceeded as it is the Senate who has the authority to oust an impeachable official such as Sereno. He urged the public to voice out their displeasure with the ruling.
“Pambabastos sa Saligang Batas ang ginawa ng mayorya sa Supreme Court…Ang pagpapatalsik sa isang Chief Justice ay nasa kamay ng Senado, hindi ng korte. Dahil nangangamba sila na maaring wala silang sapat na boto sa Senado kaya nila pinuwersa ang bulok at basurang argumento…Dapat mag file ng motion for reconsideration. Dapat maipamalas ng taumbayan sa korte na mali ang pasya at hindi katanggap-tanggap,” Pangilinan said.
Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara, in a statement, said the results of the voting implied a “divided court on a very important constitutional issue.” This means, according to Angara, “the ruling may not be a stable one and may be subject to revision.”
Angara said that though he did not agree with the decision “because impeachment is the only constitutional route for removal of a CJ,” he said he “acknowledges that the Court has spoken.”
Nevertheless, he expressed hope that “wisdom and sobriety” would still prevail.
“The ripple effect of the decision may be felt in the coming months and years. I pray that wisdom and sobriety prevail in the future for the good of the country and our people,” he said.
On the other hand, Sereno’s accuser, Atty. Larry Gadon, said in a statement that the ruling “liberated the judiciary from the vestiges of the yellow cult,” referring to the color associated with the opposition’s Liberal Party.
In his victory statement, he dedicated “this win to the legacy of Chief Justice Renato Corona.” Gadon has been vocal of the reasons why he wanted Sereno out — to be made accountable those who benefited from what happened to Corona, one of which is Sereno.
Meanwhile, the petitioner Solicitor General Jose Calida, in a statement Friday, hailed the SC ruling as the “epitome of its exercise of judicial independence.” He thanked the magistrates for upholding the Constitution in its decision.
“The Supreme Court decision ousting Maria Lourdes Sereno augurs well for the country as it preserves the stability and integrity of the Judiciary. This decision is the epitome of its exercise of judicial independence…I would like to extend my appreciation to the learned magistrates of the Supreme Court for once again upholding the primacy of the Constitution,” Calida concluded. — Marje Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue
Duterte eyes Chinese businessman for NFA Admin post; no pick for CJ yet
President Rodrigo Duterte during a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 | RTVM
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is yet to pick a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (SC) following the retirement of Judge Teresita de Castro.
“Ang next chief justice? I’m still toying with so many names. Ang bagong… If there’s any vacancy there — I don’t know if there’s a vacant one there. Kung may vacancy, we’ll fill it up with good men and there are few good men in this planet. We’ll have to search them far and wide,” he said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday (October 9).
The Judicial Bar Council (JBC) has started accepting applications for the position.
Meanwhile, President Duterte hinted of a person he is eyeing for the position of administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA).
“Ngayon, ang NFA, I’m looking for somebody else. I’m looking for a Chinese who’s been there in the business maybe 20 years. I’ll just ask him to, in the meantime, to be the NFA. Alam man nila ang negosyo na ‘yan,” the President said. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
CJ De Castro marks last SC flag raising ceremony with big send-off
MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court employees paid tribute to Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro as she attended her last flag raising ceremony on Monday, October 08.
De Castro will be retiring on Wednesday, October 10 when she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 .
A marching band trumpeted the arrival of De Castro as she was welcomed by SC employees and her fellow magistrates who were all dressed in blue.
A huge banner was hung bearing a message of gratitude to the 24th chief justice of the Supreme Court.
In her speech, De Castro touted the reforms she has made in the SC such as the salary increase and overtime pay of stenographers and other SC employees.
“I will miss all of you. I will miss everyone with whom I worked in the course of my 10 years and 8 months here,” De Castro said.
“With this I say goodbye to all of you. You have given me many memories to live by the rest of my life. Thank you.” — Mai Bermudez
Atty. Te resigns as Supreme Court spokesperson
Resigned Chief of Public Information Office Atty. Theodore Te
MANILA, Philippines – Atty. Theodore Te has resigned as Supreme Court’s (SC) Chief of Public Information Office and assistant court administrator effective Friday (September 7).
Te was appointed by the ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in 2013.
In his resignation letter, Te said his term was coterminous with Sereno but was extended pending the appointment of a new Chief Justice and a new SC Spokesperson.
He said his resignation will give Chief Justice Teresita De Castro the free hand to appoint a spokesperson that could help her implement media policies crafted by her office.
De Castro designated Atty. Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra as his replacement upon acceptance of his resignation.
Meanwhile, Court staff donned blue during the flag raising on Monday (September 3) to show support to the new Chief Justice.
De Castro was emotional as she delivered her first speech as the new and the first female chief justice of the SC.
She calls on all SC employees not to be swayed by criticisms against the High Court.
“I would like to say that people outside will like to judge us from what they see from afar but it is us the justices and the employees and officials of the court know what is happening inside the Supreme Court,” she said.
She asks other branches of government to respect the judiciary, move on and learn from the conflicts and misunderstandings of the past. – Mai Bermudez / Marje Pelayo