Knives out for Sereno
Poor, battle-scarred and weary Meilou Sereno. It is not only the executive branch (from the President down to the Bureau of Internal Revenue) and its lapdogs in Congress who have their knives out for her; it seems the majority of her Supreme Court colleagues also do.
Other columns I have written on the subject, including the last one, explained why the executive and legislative branches are out for her head. But why her colleagues in the high court? Reader, here is my take on that:
- When she was first appointed to the Supreme Court, she was extremely young (barely 50 or 51), with zero experience as a member of the judiciary, coming as she did from the academe (the University of the Philippines). As I recall, then Chief Justice Renato Corona assigned a car to her that was so old it hardly ran (Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had to lend her his car), and I heard that AJ Teresita de Castro was always castigating her for one thing or another, with no one coming to her aid. Whether it was like being hazed for being the junior, I don’t know. But she was an independent cuss, and she carried on.
- She didn’t fit into the picture. She did not know how to scratch backs, so that her back would be scratched in return. Remember when she accused a colleague of plagiarism? That did not win her friends. And when she called out the CJ for certain procedural lapses on his part? Can you imagine the most junior member calling out the most senior member?
- But her worst transgression is that she tossed her hat into the ring for the position of chief justice. Obviously, she stepped on the toes of her older colleagues. And when she was appointed over them, that was the last straw. The rumor is that a contender to the position vowed not to rest until Sereno was either forced to resign or was impeached.
Understand, Reader, that I myself thought that AJ Carpio was by far the best candidate for the position of chief justice, and fully deserved it, especially considering that he had been previously cast aside, being the senior AJ, to accommodate Corona’s midnight appointment, which the Supreme Court held to be constitutional (just shows you the kind of Supreme Court we have). But that’s water under the bridge, I thought. Not so to other members of the high court. They are going to get her, one way or another. Thus, that shameful performance by some of her colleagues, airing dirty linen in the equally embarrassing star chamber proceedings in the House of Representatives.
That having been said, I looked over some of the previous columns I wrote on the Corona impeachment (not only in this newspaper). And just to be perfectly clear, I must declare that I am one of the few who thought that he should not have been found guilty. In this I am proud to stand alongside the late senators Joker Arroyo and Miriam Santiago, who voted to acquit him. Reader, I refer
you to the impeachment vote on Corona. It is still on YouTube.
Senator Joker started with saying that impeachment is a political process, not a political assassination. He said that the Senate was being asked to impeach Corona all because he submitted an allegedly erroneous statement of assets, liabilities and net worth while he was in the Supreme Court (the most “serious” charge against Sereno is that she did not submit some SALNs long before she became a member of the high court). Senator Joker likened what was happening to a bill of attainder, which is a legislative act finding someone guilty of treason or a felony without trial. And he reminded them that they were supposed to dispense justice, as shown by the judicial robes they were wearing. But what he was witnessing was not justice, not even law; it was naked power. I miss him.
And Senator Miriam excoriated her colleagues for not knowing, or maybe for ignoring, what was clearly the law. You have to watch her, Reader, although, or because, she went ballistic. I miss her, too.
After revisiting what went on in the Senate in the Corona trial (the vote was 20-3; the third dissenter was Sen. Bongbong Marcos), I must tell you, Reader, that I am no longer confident, as I wrote last week, that the senators will have more balls—though they have certainly more brains—than all their counterparts in the Lower House.
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