Latest Stories

SC row: Justices revoke Sereno order


Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. AP

Supreme Court justices on Tuesday confronted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on her order to reopen a regional constitutional administrative office (RCAO) without their consent but agreed to create a committee that would study the move intended to decentralize supervision over lower courts.

A court insider told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the resolution creating the committee to be led by Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez would “supersede” Sereno’s controversial order.

“By making this resolution, everything will be put on hold,” the source said, referring specifically to Sereno’s appointment of Geraldine Faith Econg, the court’s head of the program management office, as head of RCAO-7 in Cebu City.

The source said that Econg would be named member of the committee.

Tuesday’s en banc session was the last for the Supreme Court before it goes on its Christmas break beginning today until Jan. 9.

Sereno got the ire of the justices when she issued Administrative Order No. 175-2012 on Nov. 27 that created the Judicial Decentralization Office and reopened the post of RCAO-7 Associate Justice without getting the approval of the Supreme Court en banc.

She appointed Econg to head RCAO-7 and had gone to Cebu City on Nov. 29 for the reopening of the office.

No consensus

On Dec. 3, Associate Justice Teresita de Castro wrote Sereno and the justices asking the Chief Justice to recall or amend her order because it “did not reflect the court’s deliberations and the consensus of the justices opposing the reopening of RCAO-7” in its en banc session on Nov. 27.

Among other things, De Castro said  Sereno’s order usurped the justices’ duty to administer all the courts and their personnel, and also undermined the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).

The court’s public information office issued a statement on yesterday’s en banc meeting, but was silent on what happened to Sereno’s order.

It stated that Sereno presided over the en banc session and that she included in the agenda “the decentralization of the Court’s administrative functions with respect to the lower courts, in order to include all inputs.”

“The members of the Court are of one mind on the merits of decentralization, and have agreed on measures to ensure its effective and deliberate implementation, including the creation of a committee headed by Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez to conduct a needs assessment of decentralization,” the statement said.

Asked what happened to Sereno’s order, court spokesperson  Gleo Guerra told the Inquirer “to just go by what is stated in the resolution” that was yet to be released.

Resolution supersedes order

The Inquirer source said the en banc had agreed that the resolution would include a statement that it “supersedes all previous resolutions,” referring to Sereno’s order.

“The compromise was not to make it appear they are revoking the resolution,” said the Inquirer source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the subject.

But the source said the implication of the new resolution was that Sereno’s order had been set aside temporarily because of Econg’s designation as a member of the study committee.

The source also made it clear that the merits of decentralization was not the issue here because all justices, even before the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona, agreed on the idea.

“The justices just opposed the manner by which the Chief Justice appointed a person to a technically nonexistent office,” the source said. “The Chief Justice circumvented the procedure.”

The source said that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos had issued a presidential decree that allowed the Chief Justice to create subunits of the OCA and later another presidential decree authorized the en banc to create these subunits.

During the discussions, Sereno’s backers defended the order, saying the court had created the RCAO when it previously made a pilot test in Cebu City.

On the other hand, De Castro had been insistent on the revocation of the Sereno order, the source said.

Call for unity

In her Christmas message to court employees during an interfaith service on Monday Sereno said she was fervently praying for “true unity, not only this Christmas, but also in the coming years.”

“Everything I do is based on the belief that all of us will have to render an accounting of what we have done in this life. My responsibility is to be your servant leader. I will do what I need to do in order to serve,” she said.

But the same source said the justices were surprised when Sereno ordered a stop to the Christmas fair that was being held in the court grounds while the interfaith service was going on.

Even before she was appointed the new Chief Justice, Sereno had not been popular with her colleagues. She had earned their ire when she revealed internal deliberations in the high court in her dissenting opinions to issues like the issuance of an order allowing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave the country for medical treatment.

Her assumption to the top post in the Supreme Court, which Sereno will hold for 18 years, also did not earn any admiration from her colleagues because she bypassed many of them who are more senior.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Government , Judiciary , Ma. Lourdes Sereno , Politics , RCAO , Supreme Court

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. Filipinos, Dane re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  4. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  5. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  9. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  10. Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Malaysia asks world to pray for missing plane clue
  • 13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche
  • Pope sends condolences for S.Korea ferry victims
  • Drone kills 15 ‘Qaeda,’ 3 civilians in Yemen – security
  • Palace expects Gigi Reyes to tell all on pork scam
  • Sports

  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • PH boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
  • Canadians back PH plea to take back waste
  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
  • OFW from UAE tests negative for MERS-Cov–health chief
  • Marketplace