Supreme Court justices continue to skip flag ritesBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
For the third time this month, seven justices were absent from the Monday flag-raising rites at the Supreme Court since Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno took over.
Missed at Monday’s ceremony were the senior justices President Benigno Aquino bypassed when he picked the 52-year-old Sereno to replace ousted chief justice Renato Corona.
Seen as a snub of the new chief magistrate by their absence were Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who, by tradition, should have been next in line to Corona, and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Arturo Brion, Presbitero Velasco and Martin Villarama Jr.
In attendance were Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo, Roberto Abad, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Bienvenido Reyes, Jose Mendoza and Jose Perez, said Supreme Court spokesperson Gleo Guerra. Retired Supreme Court justice and Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor Adolf Azcuna also came.
Despite the glaring absence of the seven senior justices, court employees still had reason to be pleased as Sereno issued a memorandum giving them a one-time cash gift and financial assistance, which is traditional when a new chief justice assumes office.
Under Supreme Court Memorandum Order 29-2012, Sereno gave a P15,000 cash grant to each of the justices, officials and personnel of the Supreme Court and the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
A cash grant of P10,000 was given to justices , officials and personnel of the appellate courts, including the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeals.
Sereno awarded P7,000 to judges, officials and personnel of lower courts and halls of justice.
Employees who had worked less than four months would receive a pro-rated amount, the court said.
As authorized by the Constitution and under the national budget, Sereno may tap the savings of the respective courts for the cash gifts.