CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is refusing to resign, saying she has done nothing wrong since she began her career in the judiciary.
In a youth forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman on Thursday, Sereno talked about her faith in God, her “simple living,” and how she didn’t want to let down young people and even the country’s national heroes.
“Lahat po ng ginawa ko, simula po sa na-appoint ako na associate justice, ay wala po, ni isang bahid na malisya (All the things I’ve done, since I was appointed associate justice, were never tainted with malice),” Sereno said.
Sereno’s public appearance came a day after a senior magistrate accused her of illegally forming a regional office and altering a court order.
On Wednesday, Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro testified against Sereno before the House Committee on Justice, which is conducting hearings on the impeachment complaint filed against the chief justice by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon.
De Castro accused Sereno of circumventing the en banc, or the full court, when she issued an administrative order opening an office in Central Visayas.
She also testified that her draft temporary restraining order (TRO) on a the proclamation of a senior citizen’s party-list during the May 2013 elections was altered unilaterally by Sereno, in blatant disregard of court procedures.
Sereno sought to counter her colleague’s statements with her personal testimony.
“I went over and beyond the normal workload. Isinaalang-alang ko at hiningi ko ang tulong ng Diyos at umayos naman po ang maraming reporma sa judiciary (I took into consideration and sought God’s help and the judicial reforms have been steady),” she said.
The chief justice said she was concerned what message would be sent to the youth should she resign her position, citing Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto, examples of young people in Philippine history.
“Nakakahiya ho sa kabataan kung ako ay bibigay (It is embarrassing to the youth if I just give up),” she said.
“I am making a stand not because of an ego issue, because I have long considered this position as not mine, but it is a sacred trust from God,” the chief justice said.
“But what I know is that, if a life that is in the public eye is lived in a way that people can show integrity, steadfastness, courage, and consistency, then I hope, in my small way, that young people will see that there is much value in integrity, honesty and right living,” she added.
The chief justice said she must make a stand, as this was a fight for what is good and that young people don’t want a future where they see “nothing but violence, coarse language, foul charges, baseless accusations, lies upon lies.”
“My role is to say, again and again, there is hope for our country,” Sereno said. “God is good, God is there. He is just willing to cradle us as a people, if we just turn back to Him.”
Chief Justice Sereno was accused by Gadon of committing culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and corruption, which she had denied.
The impeachment proceedings will resume on December 5.