CJ Sereno resign? Smacks of sexism
I am not a good friend of the Chief Justice. I am not her enemy either. We know each other because we came from the same law school.
I decided to write this piece because one lawyer actually called on her to resign. The lawyer’s explanation for his call, if he had one, was not reported, except that he named other justices who should have been appointed Chief Justice instead. (Read: Sereno faces uphill battle in High Court)
I will not dwell on the merits of CJ Sereno’s appointment. It is unproductive to do so. Nothing positive would come out of it. We all want the most deserving to lead the judiciary. But we should give whoever gets appointed the chance to lead and be held accountable for whatever she does in office.
Whether CJ Sereno is qualified for the job is no longer the issue. The issue is, how is she leading now? What is her vision for the judiciary? How will she lead us – the bench and the bar – in the 21st century? This task is not hers alone. This is the task of the entire Supreme Court.
Indeed, we need the leadership of the Supreme Court now more than ever. So many issues and problems in the legal profession, the legal academia and the judiciary need to be addressed. We are perceived as parochial (Senator Angara’s view) and ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of the global legal order.
We have become irrelevant to some. The law curriculum needs an overhaul. We are not prepared to participate in the kind of leadership the country needs at this time. And there are serious matters exposed in Marites Vitug’s two books on the Supreme Court that, while they need not be publicly admitted, have to be addressed. These are the urgent and grave issues of our day, not Sereno’s appointment as Chief Justice.
There is one thing, however, that strikes me about the opposition to CJ Sereno’s leadership. I will hazard a guess that other than the issue of seniority, there is some element of sexism underlying the continuing opposition by some to her appointment.
Was there ever a time when anyone asked a Chief Justice to resign because he was not qualified, and after 5 months in office at that? Remember that all the past Chief Justices are men.
None of them was ever told that he was not qualified or that he lacked the experience and intellectual capacity to be Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Corona was not questioned about his intellectual capacity or his leadership skills or his integrity (the latter became an issue only much later).
His appointment was questioned because it was a midnight appointment.
What about Chief Justice Sereno? What is the objection to her appointment? That she is the youngest and most junior Chief Justice ever appointed? That she could be the longest-serving Chief Justice in the country’s history? (How many men would be deprived of the privilege of serving as Chief Justice!) That she lacks judicial or litigation experience?
Would the same things have been said if she were not female? I don’t think so.
The legal profession would have accepted her as just another Chief Justice in the history of the Philippine judiciary. Except that she is young. And most of all, female. The irony is that there was no marked rejoicing from our female population that finally, a woman has been appointed Chief Justice. Why is that?
I say, let’s move forward. Let us give her a chance. I am more interested in what she does as Chief Justice. I want to know about her plans. I want to see good results. I want her reforms to succeed.
But she could not do that without the Supreme Court – indeed, without the entire judiciary – adopting a pro-institution stance. I would like to see a Supreme Court manifesting a maturity that speaks of fidelity to the institution and the country. In the end, I will not judge CJ Sereno alone, but the entire Court under her leadership.
The Supreme Court should lead now as it should, for there is much work to be done. - Rappler.com
(Evalyn Ursua is a human rights lawyer, litigator, researcher and academic.)