CONTROVERSY mired Tuesday’s 112th anniversary of the Supreme Court (SC) when most magistrates decided to boycott a program where Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno renewed her call for unity among officials and personnel of the Judiciary.
In a video-taped message posted on the SC’s website, Sereno made the call in the presence of only five Associate Justices—Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Bienvenido Reyes, Jose Perez and Marvic Leonen.
The nine other magistrates, most of them senior members of the High Tribunal, did not show up. It was learned that Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is on “wellness” leave.
“Bakit ako a-attend eh di natuwa si Sereno [Why should I attend when it would only please Sereno],” one of the “no-show” magistrates told The Manila Times.
In her speech, Sereno thanked the entire Judiciary for their support, saying it inspires her to do more and do better.
“At sa pagdating pa ng mga taon naway ‘wag tayong makalimot na walang hamong hindi natin mapagtatagumpayan kung tayo’y sama-sama at nagkakaisa [And in the years ahead, let us not forget that there is no challenge that we can’t overcome if we work together, united],” the Chief Justice told her audience.
“Batid ko na hindi madali ang mga responsibilidad na iniatas sa atin sa ilalim ng saligang batas. Tayo’y dapat manatiling malaya, tapat at may integridad. Kaakibat nito ang matinding sakripisyo at pag-unawa lalo na sa panahong tayoy nahaharap sa mga mkabagong hamon ng lipu–nan [I know that the responsibilities and tasks required of us by the Constitution are not easy. We should remain free, honest and with integrity. With these are deep sacrifices and understanding, especially at these trying times],” Sereno further said.
She also called on her colleagues to persevere and to remain firm on their mandate.
“Naniniwala akong ang mga itinanim at itatanim pa nating butil ng pagbabago ay magbubunga sa hinaharap [The seeds of change we sow is what we will reap in the future],” Sereno added.
Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro was among the eight justices who did not listen to Sereno’s speech. However, she attended an earlier Mass, along with Justices Jose Mendoza, Presbitero Velasco and Roberto Abad.
The group left when the program proper started.
Two weeks ago, De Castro had criticized Sereno for issuing an erroneous resolution in connection with the disqualification case of the Senior Citizens party-list.
Among those who did not attend the program were Senior Justices Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin.