Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno on Thursday said the Supreme Court (SC) will not retaliate against Malacanang despite repeated attacks by President Benigno Aquino 3rd on the judiciary after the High Court ruled that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is unconstitutional.
In her second “Meet the Press” event to mark her second year as Chief Justice, Sereno declared that she still respects the President and that she does not read between the lines in his statements.
“I have enormous respect for the President and I’m sure he also respects the Office of the Chief Justice,” she said.
Sereno added that the Constitution should always reign supreme.
“The Constitution designed the order of things, the judiciary must rule as it should,” the country’s top magistrate noted.
On Wednesday, Aquino again lambasted the SC, saying it meddles “in everything.”
The President earlier said he is open to Charter change or Cha-cha if only to limit the power of the judiciary.
But Sereno remained unfazed by Aquino’s tirades.
“I do not read anything (in) his statements,” she told reporters.
“We are the most depoliticized (in the government). If we do not (get) involved in politics, we have a chance of surviving,” she said.
The Chief Justice explained that mending ties with all those inconvenienced by the High Court’s decisions would hamper the tribunal from exercising its constitutional mandate.
“The repercussions are already beyond the control of the judiciary. It should not shrink from its constitutional sworn duty even if it may result (in) inconvenience,” Sereno said.
According to her, the SC will uphold its constitutional duty in deciding cases pending before it, including complaints against the President and Congress.
The government’s appeal on the High Court’s ruling on the DAP remains pending at the tribunal.
At the same time, Sereno appealed to Congres to increase the budget of the judiciary so that it can continue to implement reforms.
She also noted that the 2015 budget allotted for the judiciary was P12 billion lower than what was requested.
“Please give us the reform money we need,” the Chief Justice said.
She added that the judiciary must be strengthened because it is the weakest branch, having no police powers.