JUSTICES of the Supreme Court, backed by judiciary employees, flocked to the high court grounds for their regular Monday flag ceremony, many of them wearing red in a public statement against beleaguered Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Ten associate justices attended the flag-raising ceremony a week after they ordered Sereno to go on an indefinite leave of absence ahead of her looming impeachment.
The justices who attended the flag ceremony were Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes, Noel Tijam and Alexander Gesmundo.
Also in the flag-raising rites were retired justice and Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor Adolfo Azcuna and retired justice Romeo Callejo.
De Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Martires, Reyes and Jardeleza wore red.
Not present in the flag ceremony were Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Benjamin Caguioa.
Employees clapped and welcomed the justices as they arrived at the high court grounds.
Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez wore a red necktie, while his subordinates wore completely red attires.
Officers of the Philippine Judges Association led by Marikina Judge Felix Reyes also attended the flag ceremony and were met by the justices.
“This was the silent support to the associate justices in their stand against [Sereno] and soon we will call for her resignation,” a court source said.
Carpio serves as acting chief justice under Special Order No. 2539 effective March 1. The order was signed by Sereno on February 28.
Carpio will also sit as acting chairman of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal under Special Order No. 2542, which means he will tackle the election protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
Sereno also issued Special Order No. 2540, designating de Castro to act as chairwoman of the Supreme Court’s 1st Division in her absence.
March for Sereno
A group of evangelicals meanwhile called on Filipinos to join the “Martsa ng Bayan, CJ ipaglaban” rally to show support for Sereno.
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) will hold its mass action at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Batasan Road on March 6.
“We, the PCEC, believe that she is innocent of the allegations against her. We continue to stand with Sereno,” said PCEC National Director Bishop Noel Pantoja.
“Let us show our support for her and our country’s democracy. Let us all gather peacefully and prayerfully for the sake of truth, righteousness and justice in our country,” he added.
Activist Sister Mary John Mananzan said the impeachment complaint against Sereno was part of President Duterte’s efforts to eliminate opposition voices.
“All the moves of the government are toward only one thing, to establish an administration without opposition,” Mananzan said.
Various groups like Gabriela and Movement Against Tyranny have announced their support for Sereno and would stage a rally on International Women’s Day on March 8.
with ASHLEY JOSE