Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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At Large

The ‘red summons’

Just reading the headlines, one would think the entire judiciary was up in arms at the refusal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign her post.

“Judges, court employees seek Sereno resignation,” said one newspaper. But this paper’s banner headline on Monday hedged its bets, declaring: “Judges mobilized to urge CJ to resign.”

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Well, mobilized is right. Reports on yesterday’s “Red Monday” protest were accompanied by photos and video showing Supreme Court employees and justices gathered for the Monday flag-raising rites liberally sprinkled with red-clad attendees.

And indeed, by the color of their ties, shirts or outfits, they were showing their support for the call for Sereno to resign. A court employee even read out his group’s manifesto.

But the “show of red” turns out to be just that — a show. It was later revealed that while there are 1,200 members of the Philippine Judges Association, only 20 signed the manifesto calling for Sereno to step down. It turns out, too, that while there are 15 different court employees associations, only four issued a call to oust the Chief Justice, with the remaining 11
refusing to be coerced to sign the anti-Sereno statement. Not quite a majority.

Indeed, a report in this paper’s online edition quoted court employees in Mandaue, Cebu, who said they wore red last Monday but that they were “surprised” to learn that the “Red Monday” was “actually aimed at expressing support for the ouster” of Sereno.

One employee said they were “deceived.” Earlier, a text message was circulated throughout the judiciary urging them to wear red last Monday at the flag-raising ceremony “as a sign of unity in the Supreme Court.” But instead of obeying the urgings of the “reds,” court employees in Mandaue and Cebu agreed to report for work wearing their uniforms. One of them said: “We’re public servants, not puppets.”

Later in the day, there were allegations that the “Red Monday” had the active backing of Supreme Court administrator Midas Marquez, who even sent word to some courts that he would be visiting them that day, perhaps as a way of pressuring judges and employees to obey the “red summons.”

If true, these calls run counter to the advice of former chief justice Hilario Davide urging justices and employees to “respect the rule of law and preserve their judicial independence.”

Davide, who presided over the impeachment trial of former president Joseph Estrada, also called on everyone in the judiciary “to respect the rights of the Chief Justice to fairness, justice, due process and the rule of law.”

The call for Sereno’s resignation even before the House of Representatives could vote on the motion for impeachment and for the Senate to conduct the impeachment trial, was, Davide said, “far worse than the impeachment and quo warranto.” It is, he said, “condemning without the evidence, judging before hearing, applying additional political pressure on the Chief Magistrate, rather than according her the rights to a fair trial, to substantive and procedural due process, and even to the rule of law.” In other words, exactly what judges are supposed to do.

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* * *

It isn’t often that a brand-new musical, with new songs and an exploratory theme, comes our way.

Well, your chance to catch one such new stage presentation comes this Sunday when “Mansyon, Isang Musikal,” is staged at the Abelardo Hall in UP Diliman, with two performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

A true OPM (Original Pilipino Music) showcase, “Mansyon” advocates for heritage preservation and conservation, told through the story of a family fighting to preserve its patrimony and leave the old house as a tribute to the heritage of their small town.

What makes “Mansyon” truly an original artistic endeavor is that its music was written by an architect, Leon Mayo, who throughout his youth produced music with good friends and classmates.

Fleshing out the music and story of “Mansyon” is a cast composed of stage actors Brylle Mondejar, Ma. Regina Salonga, Greg de Leon, Christine Joy Managhis, Melanie Dujungco, Kevin Posadas and Vien Alen King.

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TAGS: Mansyon, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Red Monday, Rina Jimenez-David, Sereno impeachment
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