LOURDES Sereno as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has been former President Aquino 3rd and his Cojuangco clan’s abomination, their worst insult to, and the most injurious damage they inflicted on, the Republic, the judiciary, and the legal profession.
She should be removed from the Supreme Court swiftly and decisively in order to restore the dignity of the Supreme Court and the integrity of the Republic’s institutions.
Her appointment as head of the high tribunal has been a glaring, shameful anomaly in our Republic that has been crying out to be corrected. After Sereno, people just shrugged off Aquino’s appointment of two other justices with as little qualifications as she.
Our republican system stands on the pillars of the principle of the rule of law and the Constitution. It is the Supreme Court that has the main task among the three branches of government for defending and strengthening these foundations.
Yet Aquino appointed in 2012 to head the Supreme Court a mediocre legal academic who had never even seen the insides of a Philippine courtroom. By any standard or stretch of imagination, she doesn’t have the qualifications to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or even associate justice – or even judge of a municipal trial court.
Even worse, according to the twenty-five* allegations filed in Congress for which she is allegedly liable for impeachment, she has had a penchant for trampling to the ground the rules and procedures of the high court, for acting as a despot and refusing to consult with her colleagues, and lying through her teeth to them.
Sereno quarreled with her colleagues. She ignored them in the administration of the justice system. She ordered for her personal use, without court approval, a bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser worth P8 million; she falsified court documents to cover up orders she alone made; and she traveled first-class and stayed in five-star hotels, charged to the court, against government rules. She also shamelessly asked Muntinlupa judges not to issue arrest warrants against former justice secretary and suspected drug-coddler Sen. Leila de Lima.
Such behavior isn’t really surprising. Her sole claim to being a successful lawyer was when her mentor, the 77-year-old retired Justice Florentino Feliciano took her in as his legal researcher in the NAIA Terminal 3 case brought against the Republic by the German contractor Fraport before the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.
For that, she earned a whopping P37 million in fees, an astronomical amount, which constituted the biggest earnings of her entire career that she admitted allowed her to buy her house and several cars. Those fees, paid by us taxpayers, were ruled to have been “excessive and illegal” by the Mandaluyong regional trial court.
But one would probably call subsequent events a case of poetic justice, or karma. Among the allegations in the impeachment complaint against her is that she didn’t declare that P37 million income in her statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN). That allegation has been bolstered by the report of the University of the Philippines to which she should have submitted her SALNs that it anomalously doesn’t have these documents which should have contained her declarations of her P37 million earnings
Why did Aquino do such a stupid thing to foist such an abomination that is Sereno on our nation?
Aquino placed Sereno in the high court a month after he assumed office. Her assigned role was to convince the members of the Supreme Court to agree to at least P5 billion compensation for Hacienda Luisita’s Cojuangco owners. A majority of the justices ignored Sereno’s kilometric arguments that made her seem like the Cojuangcos’ lawyer. The court in its November 2011 decision ruled that the Cojuangcos should be paid only P196 million.
The next month, impeachment charges were filed on the most flimsy charges against the then Chief Justice Renato Corona who championed the government’s position, apparently to browbeat him and the court into complying with the Cojuangco clan’s wishes.
After Corona was removed, Aquino appointed Sereno as Chief Justice in 2012 in the stupid hope that with that post she could reverse the court’s November 2011decision. The majority of the justices stood their ground though, affirming the court’s Hacienda Luisita decision with finality.
It was Aquino and the Yellow Cult’s in-your-face insult to the nation and to the country’s legal profession, its supreme demonstration that it could do whatever it wanted. A principled person, or one with the nation’s interest foremost, or one who doesn’t have delusions of her worth, would have declined Aquino’s appointment, content that she had defied all odds to be in the Supreme Court already.
If this case had happened elsewhere – and it hasn’t – there would have been a revolution.
That there is no outrage against Sereno is another illustration of the power of media in this country. The Yellow-controlled media of that period which helped lynch Chief Justice Corona, were so servile to Aquino that it raised his appointee Sereno’s image to a pedestal that bordered on the absurd.
For instance, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aquino’s main propaganda arm at the time, had her appointment as its banner headline: “Excellent Choice.” It gushed over Sereno as “The Chosen One” and that Aquino’s appointment of her was a “bold tradition-breaking choice.” Her utter deficit in qualifications was buried by hosannas that she was the first female Chief Justice of the country, and the second youngest.
Yet even with Aquino no longer in power, Sereno has been getting sympathetic coverage from the mainstream press.
Retired Justice Arturo Brion in his Manila Bulletin column pointed this out: “The chief justice has been all over the media in an apparent multi-media blitz. I saw her twice on TV last week and the news media are writing about her. (That an active campaign is under way is obvious from the similarly written articles in several newspapers.) ‘Legal experts’ openly theorize in their columns that the impeachment complaint should be dismissed.”
I would think that such media support is due to the that fact she is the Yellows’ sole hope of having a believer in one of the four highest posts in the Republic for another 13 years. Aged 57 now, Sereno, if she doesn’t resign or isn’t kicked out, will be required to step down only in 2030.
With that kind of potential advantage, I would think the Yellows with the billions of pesos they amassed in corruption in the past regime, could throw hundreds of millions for her legal defense and for media.