MANILA, Philippines—With Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno away on a four-day official trip to the United States, the Supreme Court magistrates who had boycotted the regular Monday flag-raising ceremony since she took office attended the rite.
Cheers greeted the six justices led by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio when they appeared on the court grounds for the 8:30 a.m. flag-raising on Monday.
Aside from Carpio, Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta attended the ceremony for the first time since Sereno was appointed Chief Justice by President Aquino in August.
Also present were Associate Justices Martin Villarama and Arturo Brion, who had been attending the rites with Sereno.
Carpio, in an interview with reporters, downplayed the matter, saying they were there because this was the last flag rite for the year.
“I’ve attended more flag ceremonies than all of them. We will be attending every now and then,” he told reporters.
On the status of the justices under the leadership of Sereno, Carpio described it as “the same as in the past.”
“We fight each other in en banc [sessions] but we talk to each other [later],” he said, noting that “that’s the way it is” and that this has always been “healthy for the Supreme Court.”
Asked about the controversial administrative order Sereno unilaterally issued creating a sub-unit of the Office of the Court Administrator in Cebu City, Carpio told reporters to wait for the issuance of another resolution.
“The Constitution is very clear that the Supreme Court shall exercise administrative supervision over all courts. When the Constitution says it’s the Supreme Court, it’s the en banc… and the en banc acts by majority vote, each justice has one vote so that’s how we act.”
Carpio took the line of other senior justices led by De Castro who had asked Sereno to recall her order because she issued it without the consent of the full court.
A compromise had since been worked out by the court when it decided to create a committee to study the decentralization of the high court.