Sereno overruled; SC suspends implementation of her order

Purple S. Romero
The Supreme Court shelves an earlier resolution issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on decentralizing court administration

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Tuesday, December 11, put on hold the implementation of a resolution issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno ordering the decentralization of court administration.

In an en banc session, the High Court decided to establish a committee that will first conduct a needs assessment study on the restoration of the regional court administrator’s office or RCAO. The office is meant to decentralize certain SC administrative functions over judges.

The committee will be headed by Justice Jose Perez, who previously served as court administrator before being appointed to the SC in 2009.

“Everyone agrees to decentralization but we have to specify what functions can and cannot be decentralized,” one SC insider told Rappler.

The RCAO was introduced in 2008 but its operations were stopped a year after following complaints of inefficiency from lower court judges.

In November this year, however, Sereno issued a resolution that called for its re-opening — under the name Judicial Decentralized Office. But the other SC justices did not agree with her move.

Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro issued a memorandum on December 3 recommending the recall of Sereno’s resolution. De Castro argued that the resolution did not reflect the Court’s deliberations on the matter, adding that the other magistrates opposed it because it usurped the Court’s power to exercise administrative supervision over lower courts.

This is Sereno’s first open battle with her colleagues, most of whom are associated with her former nemesis, dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona. When she was appointed chief justice in August this year, Sereno, 52, was the youngest magistrate on the Court.

Another young justice, the 49-year-old Marvic Leonen, was appointed to the High Tribunal last month. –