CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has at least one lawmaker supporting her decision to re-open a regional court office in Cebu.
In a press statement, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Sereno’s Nov. 27 resolution that reopened the Regional Court Administration Office in Central Visayas (RCAO-7) in Cebu would ensure speedy resolutions of cases.
“Decentralization is key if we are to speed up the resolution of cases as mandated by the Constitution itself. The concentration of powers in the national office has adversely affected the efficiency of our courts,” the senator said.
The chief justice recently came under fire from fellow justices in the Supreme Court over the resolution which they said was issued without en banc approval from them.
Senior Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro said the resolution should be recalled or amended since it doesn’t reflect the objections raised by other justices against the RCAO-7.
De Castro and other justices also questioned the appointment of former Cebu judge Geraldine Faith Econg as acting RCAO-7 since it wasn’t part of her duty as head of the court’s Project Management Office.
Econg was advised not to assume her functions in the RCAO-7.
The High Court was supposed to discuss the Nov. 27 resolution on Dec. 4 during its full court deliberation.
But Sereno called in sick and designated Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as acting chief justice to act on her stead.
The chief justice said she will attend next week’s deliberations on her resolution.
Pangilinan, said his sources told him about the delays in the purchase of certain supplies and materials for the regional trial courts throughout the country because it lacked approval from the judiciary in Manila.
He said the creation of regional court offices was part of judicial reforms implemented by former chief justices Hilario Davide, Jr. and Reynato Puno. Pangilinan said former Chief Justice Renato Corona suspended the decentralization of courts during his helm.
“I cannot help but ask if this controversy stems from the Office of Court Administrator’s (OCA) refusing to give up the powers it had enjoyed under Corona….Why was it right then and wrong now?,” he asked.
Earlier, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Meinrado Paredes said Sereno should address the concerns raised by her fellow justices. Paredes said he welcomes the role of RCAO-7 to help speed up administrative services of the High Court.
But Paredes said the issue may be related to OCA’s the opposition to the creation of the RCAO-7 which is funded by the World Bank.
The RCAO-7 office is located at the Lapu-Lapu City Hall of Justice. Inquirer with a story from Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol