By Moira Encina
Eagle News Service
(Eagle News) — Judges and court employees nationwide on Monday, March 12, called for the immediate resignation of on-leave Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, saying that she should make this sactifice to preserve the integrity of the tribunal.
The call was made by the Philippine Judges Association President and Marikina RTC Judge Felix Reyes, Supreme Court Employees Association (SCEA), Supreme Court Assembly of Lawyer Employees (SCALE), the Philippine Association of Court Employees (PACE), and the Sandiganbayan Employees Association (SEA).
Their statement was ready during the Supreme Court flag ceremony in the SC ground Monday morning where nine of the SC justices were also present, namely Supreme Court Associate justices Noel Tijam, Mariano del Castillo, Francis Jardeleza, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Presbiterio Velasco, Teresita de Castro, Samuel Martires, and Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolf Azcuna who also heads the Philippine Judicial Academy also attended the flag ceremony where the statement calling for Sereno’s resignation was read.
“Kami ang buong puwersa ng Hudikatura, na kinabibilangan ng mga huwes, opiysal at mga kawani sa ilalim ng inyong pamamahala, ay nakikiusap sa Inyo, mahal naming Punong Mahistrado, Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno upang gawin ang na ang napapanahon at nararapat na sakripisyo para sa ating Hudikatura, ang Institusyon na inyong pinaglalaanan ng panahon at pagmamahal ng mga nakalipas na taon. Kami po ay nananawagan, para na rin po sa kapakanan ng buong Sambayanang Pilipino, na kayo ay bumaba na sa puwesto bilang Punong Mahistrado o Chief Justice,” said their statement read by Erwin Ocson, president SC employees association.
This was the strongest public statement so far by the Supreme Court employees, together with other court employees and judges, calling for Sereno’s resignation.
According to their statement, the impeachment proceedings have affected the reputation and integrity of the Philippine Supreme Court where even Supreme Court officials have come in public to reveal alleged irregularities committed by Sereno’s office.
“The pending impeachment proceedings in recent months have put the entire judiciary in disrepute, thereby affecting the honor and integrity of its justices, judges, officials have pitted against each other resulting in a distressing atmosphere,” their statement read.
“This is aggravated by the fact that the Court en banc has taken cognizance of the petition for quo warrants and ordered her to file her comment thereto, instead of dismissing it outright,” it said.
“The Court can no longer endure a prolonged environment of this kind. Its officials and personnel, truly dedicated and conscientious public servants, cannot go through another set of hearings and go against each other again in the Senate,” it said.
The statement then appealed to Sereno not to allow herself as the first woman chief justice to be removed from office.
“Chief Justice, let us please not allow history to judge you as the first woman Chief Justice, and the youngest at that, to be removed from office,” it said.
The statement said that the judges and court employees nationwide are “one with this call.”
“Dahil po dito, masakit at mabigat sa aming kalooban, kami po na iyong nasasakupan ay mayroong nag-iisang panawagan — panawagan na alam namin na hindi lamang para sa inyong kabutihan, kung hindi sa kabutihan ng ating pinakamamahal na Institusyon, ang Hudikatura,” it said.
“Kaya po boung kababaan ng loob ay sama-sama kaming nanawagan sa inyo mahal naming Punong Mahistrado, na kaagad ninyong lisanin ang inyong puwesto, magparaya sa susunod na mamumuno at bigyan ang kabuuan ng Hudikatura ng pagkakataon na patuloy na sumulong at maibalik ang katahimikan at kaayusan dito,” their statement read.
They said that this was the only way – Sereno making the supreme sacrifice of resigning – to restore the dignity of the whole court system.
They said that if Sereno will make this supreme sacrifice and resign with her dignity intact, this will earn the respect of the judges and court employees nationwide.
“Ito na lamang ang aming nakikitang solusyon, ang gawin ninyo ang pinakamataas na sakripisyo na may dangal at buong paghanga buhat sa amin, at ito ay ang kaagad ninyong pagbibitiw bilang aming Punong Mahistrado,” their statement said.
Among those who came to the SC Flag ceremony were the president of Philippine Judges Association, Marikina regional trial court judge Felix Reyes, and other judges, as well as the president of the Sandiganbayan employees association. Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez also attended Monday’s flag ceremony urging Sereno to resign. Marquez previously testified before the House Committee on justice which is hearing the impeachment complaint against Sereno about the the delays in the release of pension funds for the loved ones left by justices and judges who have already died, when Sereno allegedly removed the administration of the pension funds from the Office of the Court Administrator giving it to a special committee and two technical working groups.
Before this call by court employees and judges to resign, Sereno had been making the rounds of various media organizations, including television stations, to insist that she was not resigning and that she was defending the integrity of the whole judicial system by her actions.
(Eagle News Service)