PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd was accused of ruining the judiciary’s age-old traditions such as the observance of the seniority rule when it comes to appointments and for rendering the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) as Malacañang’s rubber stamp.
A justice, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Manila Times that Aquino and Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno worked to destroy the very foundation of the Judiciary following the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“Pnoy is ‘porking’ the judiciary. Binababoy ni Noynoy ang judiciary,” the justice said. He stressed that the independence of the High Court was compromised when Corona was ousted.
Things started to turn for the worse when Sereno, a junior magistrate, was appointed to head the high tribunal.
“Impeaching Chief Justice Corona was the first move, next would be the appointment of Sereno,” the magistrate said.
Another justice said that Aquino has totally ignored the tradition of seniority in the judiciary, something which past leaders held dearly to preserve the integrity of the court.
“During the time of former President [Ferdinand] Marcos, Chief Justice [Claudio] Teehankee was bypassed. But still those who were appointed were still senior justices. Pero ngayon babuyan talaga ang ginagawa ni Noynoy,” the magistrate lamented.
The JBC headed by Sereno, did not escape the prying eyes of the Times’ sources who described the council as a “Palace rubber stamp.”
“JBC is now a rubber-stamp of Malacañang. It even ignored the seniority in their shortlist. Bata-bata system kasi,” one of the justices said.
“Kung maayos ang recommendations ng JBC, wala sanang gulo.
Eh mismong si Sereno na chairman ng JBC ay junior kaya wala siyang pakialam kahit junior justices din ang mapunta sa CTA [Court of Tax Appeal] at Sandiganbayan,” he pointed out.
Except for the Court of Appeals, the three highest courts in the country are led by junior justices.
Sereno was the second to the most junior member of the High Court when she was appointed by Aquino as Chief Justice.
Former Assistant Solicitor Roman del Rosario was an outsider when he was appointed as Presiding Justice of the CTA after being reportedly backed by Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
Last week, Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, the most junior member of the Sandiganbayan, was appointed as Presiding Justice of the antigraft court.
Tang was reportedly supported by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, both being alumnae of San Beda College of Law; Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza; and trader Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp.
Edged out by a “junior,” senior Justices of the Sandiganbayan expressed defiance and strong opposition to Tang’s appointment.
Tang failed to assume the chairmanship of any of the court’s divisions because her colleagues refused to yield their positions invoking the rules on seniority.
Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, who was recently installed as chairman of the Sandiganbayan Third Division said that he will not give up his chairmanship because he is more senior than Tang.
The other justices who refused to give up their chairmanships are Justice Efren de la Cruz of the First Division, Justice
Teresita Diaz-Baldoz of the Second Division, Gregory Ong of the Fourth Division and Justice Roland Jurado of the Fifth Division.
Tang sat as junior member of the Fifth Division.
A Supreme Court Justice told The Manila Times that the Sandiganbayan case is likely to reach the Supreme Court.