Going off script, Bersamin tells Gordon: Be more noisy vs Smartmatic

Lian Buan
Going off script, Bersamin tells Gordon: Be more noisy vs Smartmatic
The Chief Justice is more unguarded in his speech before lawyers, jokes about quo warranto and ribs Justice Leonen to ‘join the majority more’

MANILA, Philippines –  Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin went off script in a speech before lawyers at the Manila Hotel Friday night, March 9, and addressed an incumbent senator in the crowd to raise more howl against Smartmatic, the machine provider for the last 3 automated elections.

Recognizing the presence of Senator Richard Gordon in the crowd, who sits with him at the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), Bersamin said: “We love him for his performance in the Senate, and I think that he should be more noisy against the Smartmatic.”

Bersamin told Gordon: “Well anyway Commissioner Parreño is here, tell him what you want him to know about this,” referring to elections commissioner Al Parreño.

The Senate held hearings in July 2018 into alleged fraud in the 2016 elections, with Senate President Vicente Sotto III calling on both Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic to provide data. 

Bersamin sits on the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) where an electoral protest for the vice presidency is still pending.


Bersamin was the keynote speaker at the testimonial dinner given to him on Friday by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

The Chief Justice was more unguarded. For one, he directly talked about the quo warranto ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno. 

Addressing outgoing IBP national president Abdiel Fajardo who stood strongly against quo warranto, Bersamin said “I remember him during the hullabaloo, the chief justice, Meilou (Sereno), he was very noisy.”

“There is a value to that noise..We needed a man like him to stand up for something,” Bersamin said, in contrast to his threatening speech before new lawyers in June 2018 against “disrespecting the court and their rulings.”

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who once called Bersamin’s Enrile bail ponencia a “political accommodation,” delivered a testimonial for the Chief Justice.

Bersamin said: “I tried to persuade him to join the majority more but he would not budge. He would always say I am content to be the lone dissenter.”

“Thank you anyway Marvic I hope that you will follow in my footsteps and become the second chief justice from the Cordillera,” Bersamin added. He is from Abra while Leonen is from Baguio.

Leonen, of course, was also a strong dissenter against the quo warranto ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno, calling the decision a “legal abomination.”

“That was a moment in the history of the Supreme Court that we will never forget. Those of you who are outside of the Supreme Court will never get to appreciate very well the impact of that period of turbulence. But a turbulence is just like a turbulence that you experience while you are in-flight . It will only hit for two seconds and then it is done,” said Bersamin.

“This was something that was bigger than any of us,” he added.

Bersamin will retire in October 2019 along with Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Also retiring this year are Associate Justices Mariano Del Castillo (July) and Francis Jardeleza (September.)

By 2022, the Supreme Court would be packed with Duterte appointees, with only Leonen and Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa as the Aquino appointees on the bench, barring resignation or removal. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.