Groups reject calls for Sereno resignation

MANILA, Philippines – Several groups rejected calls asking Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign, saying it's "unethical and unconstitutional."

During a gathering of supporters on Monday, March 12, the Coalition for Justice (CFJ) urged Sereno to resist resignation and to continue fighting for judicial independence.

"The CFJ calls on her to fulfill her mandate in truth, righteousness, and justice. CJ Sereno, do not resign!" pastor Caloy Dino made the call on Monday.

Judges and Supreme Court employees asked Sereno to step down from her post during Monday's flag ceremony. In response, the Chief Justice firmly said she will not resign.

The Makabayan bloc, Pwersa ng Pamayanan para sa Voluntarismo at Reporma (PPVR), Coalition Against Darkness and Dictatorship (CADD), and the The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service are among the organizations that support CFJ.

However, not one group from the judiciary is part of the coalition.

Pressure

Last March 8, the House justice committee found there was probable cause in the impeachment complaint against Sereno. But Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate disagreed.

"They are not even convinced of the merit of the impeachment complaint that is why they are resorting to extra-legal and extra-constitutional efforts," Zarate said. Cases hurled at Sereno and her staff are an attempt of the administration to pressure her to resign, Zarate added.

Lot Ortiz-Ruiz of PPVR added that the impeachment trial at the House is centered on "hearsay and allegations." (READ: How similar are the Sereno and Corona impeachment cases?)

"Walang konkretong ebidensyang maipakita upang harapang sabihin si CJ Sereno ay lumabag sa batas at marapat lamang na magbitiw sa kanyang tungkulin. Ang pagdinig sa Kamara ay mistulang moro-moro o teledrama na simula pa lang ay alam mo nang iisa ang patutunguhan," Ortiz-Ruiz said.

(There is no concrete evidence that can explicitly say that CJ Sereno violated the law and must resign from her post. The hearings in Congress seem like a moro-moro or teledrama whose ending you already know from the very start.)

Mila Aguilar of CADD said that government power and position are used for political vendetta "as blatant instruments of injustice and corruption,"

"If Chief Justice herself is a victim of rank injustice, what can we ordinary mortals expect? We cannot allow lawlessness and turmoil to overtake our land," Aguilar said.

Silence?

Meanwhile, no statements were made during the flag ceremony of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Monday, despite the Sandiganbayan Employees Association (SEA) affixing its name to the statement calling for Sereno's resignation.

SEA president Michael Balon was at the Sandiganbayan while his name was being called at the SC. Balon said he conducted an informal survey among the association members consisting of 206 rank-and-file employees.

"Kasi aware sila (sa balita) di ba, nakikita nila sa media kung ano yung nangyayari at nung tinanong ko naman sila ganoon din karamihan ng ano nila. (They’re aware of the news, they know what’s happening and many of them have the same sentiment)," Balon said.

Sereno noted that only 4 out of 15 other judges' associations and employees unions have joined the call for her resignation. (READ: Gadon drops non-Sereno staff in new graft complaint at DOJ)

Some of the groups not part of the resignation calls are the employee groups from the Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals; the Judiciary Association of the Philippines (Judea), the Metropolitan and City Judges Association of the Philippine (MetCJAP), and the Philippine Women Judges Association (PWJA).

At the SC grounds, Supreme Court Employees Association (SCEA) president Erwin Ocson said they were not pressured to make the resignation call. – with reports from Lian Buan/Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

image