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Filipinos Pin Their Hopes for Judicial Reform on Chief Justice Sereno

Filipinos now look to the appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice of the PhilippinesThe Philippines' first female Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to herald a new age of transparency and justice. This is after all a supreme court perceived by many as highly secretive, arguably corrupt, and there not to dispense justice but to line the pockets of those working in it.

At 52 years of age Sereno has the luxury of time on her side. The second youngest Filipino to be appointed Chief Justice, she could be in that post for another 18 years (till the mandatory retirement age of seventy). That would make her tenure at the helm almost equal to that of the first Chief Justice Caetano Arellano who served from 1901 to 1920.

Reforming the judiciary would indeed be a herculean task akin to cleaning the Aegean stables. Graft and corruption is perceived to be endemic from the lower courts, to the highest. Eighteen years may not be enough to pry away the highly entrenched forces of corruption that are certain to push back and resist change.

But change must happen. The Philippine judiciary of today—rightly or wrongly—is seen as corrupt. The fact that the Philippine Supreme Court is highly secretive in its undertakings only adds fuel to this perception. In 1992 when the High Court under Chief Justice Andres Narvasa passed a resolution that exempted judges from the constitutional requirement that high-ranking government officials make their annual SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) available to the public, it removed a major stumbling block that stood between corrupt judges and their ability to hide their ill-gotten wealth (read our article on it). That resolution cloaked the judiciary with yet another layer of secrecy that made it that much more difficult to pin down and prosecute judges who are on the take.

It should be noted that in 2011, it was only newly-appointed Justice Sereno who released her SALN to the public—to the consternation of many of her fellow judges who saw such openness as an affront to their secretive ways. A rarely seen en banc session of the supreme courtIt also made clear to one and all that Sereno would not be playing by the old rules.

In the end, all Filipinos want is a fair shake from their courts. In 1986 Filipinos took to the streets risking life and limb to end the Marcos dictatorship—instead they got Cory Aquino who did next to nothing to bring about lasting change or equal justice. In 2001 Filipinos again took to the streets to oust what was then seen as an incompetent president—instead they got Gloria Arroyo who many agree turned out to be much worse than the one she replaced.

The real question is: can Sereno remain true to her calling, and turn her back on the billions and billions of pesos that will be dangled in front of her over the course of her tenure as Chief Justice? That remains to be seen. For now Filipinos’ hopes are soaring for the first ever Filipina to hold that office.  May she achieve what no male Chief Justice before her has been able to: provide equal justice for all Filipinos. Published 8/27/2012

Saved Comments

Name: Gimme Inay
City/State/Country: Natutuk kay LPiF
IP Address: 64.40.183.70

Comments

Editorial ponders- "can Sereno remain true to her calling, and turn her back on the billions and billions of pesos that will be dangled in front of her over the course of her tenure as Chief Justice? That remains to be seen." Give her the benefit of the doubt--- that is all that we can do!! Hopefully- she can and somehow vindicate the Filipino psyche from the popular conception as being cheats!!


Name: Jorge Villanueva
City/State/Country: Canada
IP Address: 142.162.137.71

Comments

We have heard of how Afghan women are generally degraded and treated as second class citizen, often unseen and unheard . Other Muslim countries have followed their Sharia law making women subject to strict moral adherence over and above that of men. But the Philippines is like a beacon of gender equality. It has voted women to lead the government twice and now for the first time, has a woman as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Not a simple achievement considering that U.S.A., supposedly the greatest and most powerful democracy has not made a mark in this area. They have yet to entrust the leadership role to a woman president or vice president. Thank you Philippines. I'm proud of you!


Name: jsm
City/State/Country: usa
IP Address: 67.181.76.234

Comments

Impeached corrupt Corona's comment: "Appointment speaks to itself". You should be ashamed to yourself making comments like such when you're impeached and stole your relatives properties and were unable to explain where your millions of dollars and pesos derived from. I watched the interview for Chief Justice. As result, I have wished that CJ Sereno to be the next CJ. I'm so glad she did get the job. It's about time we start a new generation not through line up of crook justices. CJ Sereno, I wish you the best of luck to implement a transparent leadership in the Supreme Court. Thank God we have you in lieu of Corona and GMA, the "Master of Corruption". Hope they'll be in jail soon..


Name: Johnny Lopez
City/State/Country: Laguna
IP Address: 69.176.162.172

Comments

It amuses no end watching the silly antics of some bishops. As soon as Maria Sereno was appointed as CJ of the Supreme Court, here comes former president of the CBCP Oscar Cruz expressing his doubt about the fidelity of Sereno (Daily Inquirer). Cruz said that in the event of the RH Bill getting approved by Congress, Sereno's fidelity will be with Pres. Aquino and not on what the people need, when the RH case is brought to the Supreme Court. For heaven's sake Mr. Cruz, give the lady a chance before you open your mouth! On the issue of the RH Bill Mr. Cruz. please be informed that majority of Filipinos, with 71% of Catholic parents in favor, want this important piece of legislation passed. Obviously, you and your fellow medieval-brained bishops of the CBCP are on the wrong side of history!


Name: Paco Sa Cruz
City/State/Country: Vietnam
IP Address: 113.170.216.225

Comments

I grew up believing that "Ang batas ay para sa mayayaman". Many years ago, a cousin who was working in a mining firm in the Benguet Province was killed by his co-workers. His co-workers were having drinking spree when he happened to pass-by. The group approached him about a misunderstanding on the job which led to his stabbing and death. Because my relatives were very poor and could not pursue the case, this ended up in the police blotter to rot in history. Nothing was done to give justice to the poor. Look at the Vizconde Massacre, another case of clear injustice. Until today, nobody is penalized for the crime. Sad to say but the Philippine justice system is inefficient and selective in its dispensation of the law. The poor people can not change this perhaps the new Chief Justice can.


Name: ASSTIG AKHO
City/State/Country: EMPIRE STATE
IP Address: 207.38.182.120

Comments

When the Philippine Supreme Court creates a resolution that has the weight of a law, it is treading on an area that is inclusive to Congress. That is legislating from the bench that US Congress hates so much. For example, the resolution of Narvasa that shields SALN filings by members of the judiciary from public scrutiny is a classic example. Another is the matter of taking all and every case that are political instead of rejecting them and leaving the lower court to deal with them. Even a trivial TRO? Genius !


Name: Phil Researcher
City/State/Country: LA County, CA USA
IP Address: 96.247.127.252

Comments

Re: Rep.Act 6713..the title of this law is A Code of Conduct for Government Officials and Public Officers In 1991 When the CJ was Andres Narvasa the SC made a resolution that as a body their SALN is exempt from the requirements of the Law. The first thing that the new SC should do is call a session en Banc (meaning all SC members) and categorically repeal that Narvasa Resolution. This was the resolution that Corona used to hide $2.5 million and P100million pesos..remember Corona's income was approx. P1 Million pesos a year while he was an Assoc. Justice..to quote him: "hindi ako magnanakaw" not according to the 20 senators.


Name: Steve R
City/State/Country: California
IP Address: 98.234.19.64

Comments

The appointment of Ma. Lourdes Sereno as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme has cracked open the gender glass ceiling of the Supreme Court. Congratulations! Question: “Why symbol for justice is a blindfolded lady?” Answer: “It represents impartial justice. The goddess or angel of justice cannot see whether those coming before her are rich or poor, powerful or weak, great or lowly. She only judges on the basis of truth and law.” Based from reports, Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno earned and deserves her appointment. At the Olympics, they say “let the games begin” in the Philippines, Filipinos are saying, let justice begin with the first Filipina Chief Justice.


Name: Manny Lim
City/State/Country: Philippines
IP Address: 180.194.29.80

Comments

Stay cool Filipinos. Though I 'm not sold with the selection of Ms Sereno to be CJ because of her leaning decision in favor of PNOY's Hacienda Luisita's case, and help impeached Corona I would still give her the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. God bless the Philippines.


Name: Jorge Villanueva
City/State/Country: Canada
IP Address: 142.162.218.204

Comments

Having lived in the Philippines for the big part of my life and having seen how culture and practices favored the entrenchment of graft and corruption in society, I honestly believed that the country was doomed. However recent events, e.g., prosecution of big officials , appointments of honest and dedicated people in key positions plus the unbending determination by its leader, make me think of the dawning of a new country and the greater hope for the Filipino people.


Name: JRH
City/State/Country: Montreal, Canada
IP Address: 70.83.179.172

Comments

Honesty is the best policy..if we are going to give a piece of advice to the new lady CJ Sereno..this opening line is the best guide she should follow. Likewise, doing the matuwid-na-landas & the Robredo-way of keeping things simple & presenting workable fair decisions to many of the problems in the Phils. He's a champion of the poor & the needy & it showed. A top ranking govt official, who on weekends will go around Naga City in his trademark shorts, t-shirt, & flip-flops riding his bike. He proved that transparency & effective governance is the way. No frills, no pretensions, & an honest day of work. We hope that CJ Sereno will be on the same footing as the late Honorable Jesse Robredo. God bless.


Name: Marie
City/State/Country: Batangas
IP Address: 194.24.158.4

Comments

May CJ Sereno be honest and equal not only this time with PNoy but also for the rest of her term/life. A good leader can always expect a reward to be acknowledged like what given to Robredo. May the death of Robredo be the start of all politicians to be really honest and "workaholic" for the sake of the country.


Name: Jimmy for Life
City/State/Country: Manila
IP Address: 112.198.90.224

Comments

The first woman to become Chief Justice seems to be acceptable, more acceptable than Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago! Congratulations CJ Sereno! Your appointment is bad news, for those macho men who always want man rule over women!


Name: che mallary
City/State/Country: olongapo city
IP Address: 223.25.9.172

Comments

The strategy of Congress in kicking out former CJ Corona gave Pnoy 2 birds out of one stone in the Supreme Court. Now, he has CJ Sereno and the future Associate Justice. The highest court will never be independent much left alone in any decision it takes because the guiding principle it follows comes from the "Matuwid na Daan". It is still the president's choice and decision that matter. Some can say CJ Sereno can be Pnoy's man in the Supreme Court, but how can you tell? It already started by selecting her from the short list.


Name: JRH
City/State/Country: Montreal, Canada
IP Address: 70.83.179.172

Comments

The first litmus-test for CJ Sereno are: a) her quick ruling on the Hacienda Luisita Agrarian reform case, b) how best to expedite the long standing case of the Maguindanao massacre trial, c) introduce much-needed judicial reforms once & for all, & d) add more needed judges & other officials to fill up the big gap in the present system. Being the very first lady CJ, she'll be the best poster girl of the Ninoy administration. Good luck & God-speed CJ Sereno. The Filipino people are all hoping that you'll do good & make your mark as CJ.


Name: GFJ...
City/State/Country: Hercules
IP Address: 67.188.19.40

Comments

Under dog no more. Newly appointed chief justice Sereno, according to majority public accolade and ovation expressed, is a very good choice. She meets majority public approval. That's a plus, knowing the public at large is behind her, trumps her few detractors. Wish her the best as she launch her final career for the rest of her life. As the first female chief justice, she will be watched. Hope she puts on a very good show.


Name: HMS
City/State/Country: New York, NY
IP Address: 67.241.96.149

Comments

It's good to have a Female as the Chief Justice. All indications are that she is a good person and a good jurist. HOWEVER, The Judiciary has been rotten and corrupt even before Marcos came to power. What this evil man did is merely to institutionalize Corruption by filling the Courts with his minions. Then a more evil politician was able to slither into power. The Queen of Crooks, Gloria Arroyo. That's when corruption was engraved into stone. Even if Sereno turns out to be PERFECT it would take a lot of doing and a LONG TIME before we see changes. If Rome was not built in one day, the situation in the Philippines certainly cannot be changed in our lifetime. I wish her luck, but I am not holding my breath.


Name: Phil Researcher
City/State/Country: LA County, CA USA
IP Address: 96.247.127.252

Comments

RE: To the Senior Justices who were bypassed: If you are disappointed because you were bypassed. You have 2 options..Stay and receive your compensation until you reach 70 or resign effective immediately and see if you can make more money practicing law...If you had a lot of clients before you were appointed Justice of the SC may be you can earn more than P1 million a year as a practitioner. Of course there are no guarantees. Who knows you might be investigated and get a perpetual disqualification punishment like Corona.


Name: Mike M. Moreno
City/State/Country: Richmond, BC., Canad
IP Address: 24.86.180.130

Comments

NGO- Fil-Am Fil-Can Alliance leadership, believes the appointment of former Ph. SC associate justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as Ph. Supreme Court Chief Justice would put a needed "quality reforms" in the judiciary and will gain back trust and respect the Filipino public missed from the previous Supreme Court Chief Justice. This writer is just sharing what our take is.


Name: Vanessa Lee
City/State/Country: Kuwait
IP Address: 31.203.11.2

Comments

It is human nature sometimes people tend to think negatively and underestimate the capability of a person specifically when it comes to politics. I believe the appointment of CJ Sereno will serve as complete transition in judiciary system considering her dedication during her stint as one of SC Justices. The legacy of the highest court of the land retain. Nevertheless, being the President’s choice she should also be very cautious in her decision, transparency and fairness in all angles should be observed as she is vulnerable to her critics’ disastrous character assassination. MORE POWER CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO.


Name: sinned
City/State/Country: phils
IP Address: 202.72.97.203

Comments

it's remain to be seen in the future, if she upholds transparency in the justice system of our country. Though she release her SALN to the public for scrutiny, somehow that all politics in my view. Hoping that she will eradicate all bureaucracy in our justice system and not greedy enough to perform her authority...


Name: Jorge Villanueva
City/State/Country: Canada
IP Address: 142.162.103.10

Comments

The Philippines is going through a lot of growing pains. As I reiterated before, the drive against graft and corruption is just starting. It will take decades before the country and its people will truly experience the real atmosphere of progress. Right now, even the changing of guards in the Judiciary is receiving countless flaks from doubters, critics, and enemies of progress. The silent majority and the eternal optimists should start flexing their muscles and reveal their stand, for and in behalf of the country in need.


Name: Johnny Lopez
City/State/Country: Laguna
IP Address: 69.176.162.172

Comments

The Supreme Court is perceived by many Filipinos, rightly or wrongly, as a den of thieves with its justices dispensing rulings to favor the highest bidders. Three months after Renato Corona was impeached for his failure to disclose the full details of his wealth, none among the other justices have released their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth to the media and other interested parties. It shows that these justices are not ready to mend their old way of being secretive and lacking in transparency. Our nation pins its hopes on the new CJ Maria Sereno to do a house cleaning and make it mandatory for all justices to release their SALN's in full details annually to restore the people's trust in our Supreme Court.


Name: Clairedelune
City/State/Country: Hawaii
IP Address: 24.25.243.13

Comments

Congratulations, Maria Lourdes Sereno for accepting that big responsibility. Our only hopes is that transparency will prevail for whatever you do...God Bless!


Name: ASSTIG AKHO
City/State/Country: EMPIRE STATE
IP Address: 207.38.182.120

Comments

This much you should know. The US Supreme Court receives 5000 requests for hearings but it takes only 150 cases per year. It you do your math, that is a mere 3%. In short 97% is left to the lower courts. The SC is essentially a referee; it checks or slams the brakes if both actions of the President and Congress are in violation of the constitution. I am amazed why SC is so obsessed and consumed in issuing TROs allowing Gloria to travel on a lame medical excuse and exempting justices from the constitutional requirement re SALN filings. This country created a de facto caste system unknowingly.


Name: Phil Researcher
City/State/Country: LA County, Ca USA
IP Address: 96.247.127.252

Comments

Re: Dragonslayer" Does the majority of the Filipinos even care who is the chief Justice?.. you're right majority don't really care who are the Justices.. A Filipino would would only be interested if he is facing a civil or criminal case, especially criminal when there is a possibility of going to jail.. that is when people pay attention. You see Mr. Dragonslayer we have so many kababayans who don't know where to get their next meal so who cares about the chief Justice.


Name: deo
City/State/Country: flour-flower city
IP Address: 74.74.185.176

Comments

Phil Researcher: re the Chief Justice remuneration of P50,000/month. That's exactly why I asked if the new CJ will be satisfied with that salary because she/he is not supposed to receive extravagant allowances. Moderate yes; extravagant definitely no! Until those allowances and other "incentives" from other sources are effectively reduced, judicial reforms will just be a wishful thinking.


Name: deo
City/State/Country: flour-flower city
IP Address: 74.74.185.176

Comments

So many in this forum are also pinning their hopes of judicial reform because of Sereno; and a female at that. But they fail to see that most cases has to pass through the lower Courts before it is supposed to be handled by the Supreme Court. So by the time it reach the SC, ayos na ang buto-buto. BTW, I'm talking mostly of civil cases where billion ka billion ka pisos is at stake. For felony cases involving anak ng pobreng oten, putol na ang leeg ng accused bago pa man umabot sa Court of Appeals. This is PH, so forget about SC!


Name: tonyo
City/State/Country: pinas
IP Address: 111.68.59.97

Comments

JUDICIAL REFORM: It took more than 16 years before the celebrated VIZCONDE RAPE WITH MURDER has been finally decided by the Supreme Court which reversed the GUILTY decision of RTC Judge Amelita Tolentino vs Hubert Webb, et all BECAUSE IT WAS DISCLOSED THAT TOLENTINO DISREGARDED THE TESTIMONY IN OPEN COURT OF STAR WITNESS, JESSICA ALFARO, THAT SHE DID NOT ACTUALLY SEE AND WITNESS THE CRIME. Why did it take the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court 16 years just to discover that Alfaro lied in her testimony vs the accused. CJ Sereno must reform our justice system as follows: The Appellate Court and the Supreme Court must decide within a specific and shorter period and the accused must be compensated for the damage done. The lying witness must be penalized moto propio.


Name: deo
City/State/Country: flour-flower city
IP Address: 74.74.185.176

Comments

As I See It: Yes, there might be no finality to the Hacienda Luisita case as long as there are "doubt" that can be raised by both party or any interested party(s) for that matter. That's why the point I'd liked to raise is that Sereno's SC or any Chief Justice's Supreme Court CAN NOT UNDONE the previous/preceding SC decision with just the stroke of their pens (signatures) without the case going through another judicial proceedings. If I may remind you, there's an old adage that says "the Supreme Court can and will always reverse itself" (if evidence demands). So Aquino nor the farmers (supposed to be the winners as of now) ay hindi pa nakakaseguro whatever are their stakes.


Name: GFJ...
City/State/Country: Hercules
IP Address: 67.188.19.40

Comments

FIRST STAR for lady chief justice Sereno, for breaking the in house rule of SALN secrecy, and out rightly declared her total 2011 SALN unequivocally.., prompting her colleagues to follow suit. For the first time, all supreme court justices publicly declared their SALN without reservation.., following the lead of their team captain, chief justice Sereno.


Name: ASSTIG AKHO
City/State/Country: EMPIRE STATE
IP Address: 207.38.182.120

Comments

The newly appoint CJ Sereno has a lot of things to do other than fixing a broken judicial system: (1) She has to sell herself to the other associate justices who felt they had been left out in the selection process (2) She has to convince workers in the Supreme Court that Corona was gone and she is the new captain of the ship. (3) She has to act fast and furious in making those reforms to convince the skeptical public that she really does what she says. (4) Finally accept the reality that she is not a subordinate to or beholden to PNoy but her co-equal in running the affairs of the country. Let us all wait how the future unfolds.


Name: GFJ...
City/State/Country: Hercules
IP Address: 67.188.19.40

Comments

By immediately opening her SALN to the public, followed by members of the Supreme Court, already gives us glimpse where the Supreme Court under chief justice Sereno is headed.., a positive actuated statement. An initial good show of turn around from what the Supreme Court is used to. We like it, and we are hungry for more.


Name: Gemini
City/State/Country: Pamplona
IP Address: 121.1.11.38

Comments

PNL: YourColumn; "The real question is: can Sereno remain true to her calling, and turn her back on the billions and billions of pesos that will be dangled in front of her over the course of her tenure as Chief Justice?"...The problem with PH society is by nature are corrupt. GAPANGAN, LAGAYAN, PADRINO, PAKI system to name a few must be erradicated first if we expect a change. The GOLDEN RULE; "Who ever has the gold makes the rule" Most Filipinos has been for decades are supercilious of this rule and it's so sad. Tsk tsk tsk..


Name: deo
City/State/Country: flour-flower city
IP Address: 74.74.185.176

Comments

In the news: "Sereno Rallies Employees During Flag Ceremony". A lot of associate justices are no show. Now is the time for Sereno to show who is the OFFICE Boss! I reckoned the flag ceremony is done during the start of the work day, including for these justices. Then justice should be given by these justices to their employer: THE FILIPINO PEOPLE. This attitude even if some of them are still licking their wounds (the obviousity is as clear as mud why) is treasonous dereliction of duty, therefore unacceptable. It's a shame the Court which is supposed to be the last bastion of Judicial hopes of Pinoys is showing their worst.


Name: josephgeronimo33@yahoo.ca
City/State/Country: canada
IP Address: 99.230.198.245

Comments

Congrats Cj Cereno!!! You don't have to appeal to people. Just do your job and institute the needed reforms in the Supreme Court. The Pilipino people are behind you. Sec. Jess is mahusay at matino at ikaw ay Makadiyos, makabayan at makatao. Tough road ahead but prove your worth that you are incorruptible!!!


Name: antonio jr.
City/State/Country: manila
IP Address: 112.205.35.245

Comments

The whole nation expects a lot from her. Let us welcome her heartily and pray she will do her job honestly and well. But as a safeguard all of the members of the Supreme Court must open their Saln's every year for the people's scrutiny plus severe punishment be meted to all who enrich themselves in office.


Name: Gimme Inay
City/State/Country: Tutok kay LPiF
IP Address: 64.40.183.70

Comments

"It should be noted that in 2011, it was only newly-appointed Justice Sereno who released her SALN to the public—to the consternation of many of her fellow judges who saw such openness as an affront to their secretive ways. It also made clear to one and all that Sereno would not be playing by the old rules." OH well really?!!??-- it could also be interpreted that Sereno will play according to the Malacañang rule--or "toe-the-line" drawn by the executive branch-- thus negating the principle of "separate and equal" branch of the government. A total capitulation-- of that principle-- more of a "political" decision rather than a show of independence!!! I said earlier- give her the benefit of the doubt--let's see how she will turn out to be!!


Name: Marty
City/State/Country: Khobar
IP Address: 82.167.34.90

Comments

Well its now 3 months after Corona was removed as Supreme Court Chief Justice, and CJ Sereno is now his replacement. Sereno appears capable and very loyal to Aquino. Most of the other Justices appear to not want to cooperate with her. Now you most likely have a frozen court. However not much has been accomplished by Aquino so far going on his 3rd year of office. I sometimes wonder just how much more could have been accomplished by Aquino during the big 15 month distraction period the Corona removal caused the country. Perhaps it would have been much better to work with Corona politically, than let the country experience the chaos that is now present in the Supreme Court and rest of government.


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