Sereno vows speedy processing of retirement benefits of judges
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno assured judges on Thursday of a faster and more accurate processing of their retirement benefits amid criticisms that she delayed the survivorship benefit of a deceased Court of Appeals justice.
“I am committed to raising your benefits, improving your working conditions, ensuring a better promotion track for all of you, and will look for solutions to address even your physical protection and wellbeing,” Sereno said in her keynote speech during the annual convention of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA).
In return, the chief justice said: “I ask only one thing, for you to work harder than ever and show the world a generation of judges who embody the best qualities of our people – honorable, dignified, excellent in every way.”
“I promise to lead in the way of reform that will draw from your ideas, your experiences, your energies, and that will showcase the good Filipino judge before our people,” she added.
Sereno said the Supreme Court (SC) has implemented major improvements in the review and evaluation systems for retirement requests, including the establishment of the rule of same-time release of all benefits for lower court and SC employees.
Lawyer Lorenzo “Larry” Gadon, the complainant in Sereno’s impeachment case, had criticized Sereno for delaying the survivorship benefits of the late Court of Appeals Associate Justice Jose Colayco, whose widow, Dolores, died without receiving her pension.
He accused Sereno of “sitting” on Dolores’ benefits request, which was filed in August 2016 but was only approved on October 10, a week after the widow died.
The SC cited the clarification on the retirement policy for the delay.
Sereno said the allegations were baseless and unfounded, noting that she has no power to “unilaterally delay” such approval.
In the same event, the chief justice maintained the “complete falsity” of the impeachment charges against her.
“I am confident before you because I know that truth is on my side, whether on how I have been keeping my promises to you and the people, as well as on the complete falsity of the impeachment charges against me,” Sereno pointed out.
She said that “in a time of constant spin and when narratives are coopted to serve the personal agenda of a few, the truth is our bedrock.”
“Alam kong hindi ako nagsinungaling, hindi ako nandaya, hindi ako nanlamang ng kapwa, at ginawa ko nang tama ang trabaho ko bilang Punong Mahistrado,” she exclaimed.
Amid the baseless and unfounded allegations against her, Sereno insisted that she had “enough faith in the truth to sleep soundly at night.”
“I have enough faith in our people, and in our democratic systems, to know that narratives built on lies will eventually crumble,” she added.
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