RH bill foes cautious, officials welcome SerenoBy Ador Vincent Mayol
Cebu Daily News
SHE hasn’t even warmed her seat but expectations run high in Cebu for newly installed Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
Pro-life advocates are hoping Sereno wouldn’t be swayed by anyone especially the President on the Reproductive Health bill which they are opposing.
“We don’t know her (Sereno) background. I believe there’s a different feeling if you’re appointed by the President. It remains to be seen,” said Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, country president of Human Life International.
The Catholic Church continues to lobby against the RH bill, whose provisions include public access to government-funded supplies of condoms and contraceptives.
Bullecer said they intend to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court (SC) should the RH bill be enacted into law.
“We have trust and confidence in the new chief justice. We continue to pray,” he said.
Bullecer urged Sereno to be independent-minded and not to be beholden to the president who appointed her.
“The President was able to remove the chief justice he didn’t pick. Now, he appointed a chief justice of his choice,” he said.
Fr. Carmelo Diola, overall coordinator of the Dilaab Foundation Inc., said he believes Sereno wouldn’t be Aquino’s puppet.
“I’m hopeful. We citizens should just continue to be vigilant,” Diola told Cebu Daily News.
Diola said the likes of former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. and Reynato Puno proved that chief justices are independent from the persons who appointed them.
He said Sereno possesses the values taught by the Catholic Church.
“She (Sereno) is God-fearing. We wish her all the best. We will pray for her,” the priest said.
Sereno, 52, is younger than other justices in the High Court.
“It’s about time to break the tradition wherein the youngest follows orders from the older ones,” Diola said.
Sereno is the 24th chief justice of the Philippines and the country’s first woman chief justice.
Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district said while he doesn’t personally know Sereno, he welcomes her appointment.
“I don’t have any problem with that (having a woman chief justice). In the Philippines women are being stereotyped,” he said.
Osmeña said he believes in the capabilities of women. “Even the best reporters in Cebu are women. About 80 percent of my former Mayor’s Management Trainees and my youth group consist of women,” he said.
Councilor Alvin Dizon said the time has come for the justice department to be under a lady chief justice.
“It’s unprecedented. We (now) have the first female CJ of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Dizon said he doesn’t see any problem with Sereno’s youth, adding that he sees it as an advantage.
“A CJ’s work is physically and mentally demanding. (And) her track record as an associate justice speaks for itself,” he said.
Sereno replaces former Chief Justice Renato Corona who became the first high official to be impeached by Congress with a resounding 20-3 vote last May 29. She is seen to serve until her mandatory retirement in 2030
Sereno was a law professor at the University of the Philippines for almost 20 years.
In 1998, Sereno was recognized as one of the Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service in the field of law.
She also taught law and economics at the Philippine Judicial Academy; international trade law at the Hague Academy of International law, University of Western Australia, and Murdoch University.
Sereno has a Master of Laws degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
She also has units in the Master of Arts in Economics Program from the University of the Philippines School of Economics.
She has an economics major from the Ateneo de Manila University and studied law in UP where she graduated valectorian cum laude in 1984, placing 14th in the Bar exams results of the same year.
Sereno was born to Margarito Aranal of Siasi Sulu, and Soledad Aranal of Bay, Laguna.
She is married to Mario Jose Sereno and is blessed with two children: Maria Sophia, 24, and Jose Lorenzo, 23. With Chief of Reporters Doris C. Bongcac