MANILA, Philppines – Facing Asian law students, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday, August 28, said the Internet has helped reform the Supreme Court (SC) that she has led for a year now.
“The Internet has become a means to enhance transparency and to expand access to important information – information the public considers as rightfully belonging to the public domain,” said Sereno, who marked her first year as Chief Justice last Sunday, August 25.
In her speech for students who, she said, cannot live without the Internet, Sereno noted how the Internet has helped improve the SC.
She said the SC, for one, makes its financial reports available on its website.
Online, the High Court also posts the audio recordings of oral arguments in podcast form, she said.
“This is an innovation that has been widely applauded by the public, parts of whom are saying, now they don’t have to travel all the way to the session hall of the Supreme Court to understand how the arguments are proceeding,” she explained.
The Chief Justice delivered the keynote speech at the Asian Law Students’ Association forum held at the De La Salle University, Manila. She also held a rare press conference in the afternoon, in the same university. (Watch more in the video below.)
Internet’s down side
Sereno said the Internet’s accessibility and affordability, on the other hand, “make it a good vehicle to conduct criminal activities.” She noted Internet-related crimes such as child pornography, money laundering, and hacking.
She said rights protected offline should also be protected online.
Sereno, however, declined to discuss the legal limits of Internet freedom because a related case is pending before the SC. This concerns the controversial cybercrime law, which penalizes online libel, among other things.
Earlier in the forum, Sereno recalled her own days as a law student. She said she was the youngest in her class – and a female at that.
“I had many more obstacles to overcome than my other classmates,” she said.
It is a challenging scenario likely to recur today. She is, after all, in the words of retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, “both an insider an outsider” to the SC.
She heads the SC as its first female chief justice. – Rappler.com