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‘Akin to mass suicide’

05:01 AM March 14, 2018

The commentary of Arjay Karlo F. Villanueva, “Making precedent for own ouster?” (3/11/18), confirms my doubts about the real intention of the 13 justices literally ganging up on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, making her appear isolated and awkward in defending the independence of the institution that these justices have also professed to defend.

I concur with Villanueva that “the seeming unity against Sereno may have something to do with the length of her tenure as chief justice. When she was appointed to the post in 2012 by then President Benigno Aquino III, the end of her tenure was not set to come until after 18 years — or until she steps down from office in 2030 upon retiring at age 70. That left her colleagues in the high court, all older and scheduled to retire ahead of her, with zero chance of ever becoming chief justice.”

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If my memory doesn’t fail me, I remember that during the appointment of Sereno, among considerations that were floated around and even raised in media circles was that the future chief justice should have a more independent personality to withstand outside influences unlike her predecessor Renato Corona, who was perceived to be beholden to the power that appointed him.

In a way, Aquino has proven himself correct in appointing Sereno as head of the high court as she never faltered in leading the chamber in challenging President Duterte’s controversial antidrug war.

Sereno also proved she has the “balls” in obstructing the will of the present leadership in fully implementing the Reproductive Health Law, among others.

I accede and pray with Villanueva that the honorable justices use their wisdom in transcending personal considerations and as Justice Marvic Leonen said, the quo warranto petition must be immediately dismissed if they want to protect the power and independence of the institution rather than satisfy every justice’s dream of getting to the topmost position.

Allow the proper impeachment process to proceed if
indeed there are strong and valid pieces of evidence to convict Sereno. Opting for the shortcut through a quo warranto in removing Sereno may provide other justices a chance to become the future chief justice. At the same time, it is akin to mass suicide among themselves because it would now open the floodgates for their own expulsion in the future “even for the flimsiest of reasons.”

ROMULO O. PONTE, ropinquirer@yahoo.com

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TAGS: Arjay Karlo F. Villanueva, Inquirer letters, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Romulo O. Ponte, Sereno impeachment
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