Aquino tells Sereno: Restore people’s trust in judiciaryBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III on Monday urged Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to restore people’s trust in the judiciary, ensure a fair justice system, and stand her ground in the face of odds, assuring her of the country’s full backing.
“Umaasa akong titimbangin mo ang iyong hatol at pasya upang manumbalik ang kumpyansa ng taumbayan sa institusyong iyong pamumunuan (I expect that you weigh your judgment and decision so that people’s trust in the institution you’re heading will be restored),” Mr. Aquino said in a speech marking National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Aquino, who administered the oath to Sereno last Saturday in Malacañang, said the Filipino people expected nothing less than a fair dispensation of justice in the country’s courts.
“The people’s mandate to you is: let the fair system of justice prevail. It should be impartial to either the rich or poor, to ordinary Filipinos or the powerful,” he said before a crowd of diplomats, Cabinet officials and veterans under a tent behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Mindful of the challenges that await her in the next 18 years of her term, Mr. Aquino assured the 52-year-old Sereno that the whole country was behind her.
“To our new Chief Justice, don’t lose heart when a deluge of challenges comes your way. Be assured that the Filipino nation is your ally (kasangga mo),” he said.
Sereno has a work cut out for her, mainly restoring the image of the judiciary months after Chief Justice Renato Corona was ousted by the Senate in an impeachment trial for non-disclosure of assets in violation of the Constitution.
But first she has to address the issue of how to bring together all the 13 justices, including the more senior ones who observers said felt bypassed because of her appointment.
When she took her oath before the President, only four of her colleagues — Associate Justices Martin Villarama Jr., Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Mariano del Castillo and Bienvenido Reyes — were around.
Absent were the five most senior justices — Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion and Diosdado Peralta — as well as Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez and Jose Mendoza.
Aquino said Sereno’s appointment as the country’s new chief magistrate has added more meaning to the country’s commemoration of the National Heroes’ Day.
“She’s the first lady Chief Justice and one of the youngest heads of the judiciary,” the President added.