MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Wednesday, August 28, challenged her critics to check her votes in crucial cases, as she vowed independence from the President who appointed her in 2012.
“I haven’t received any request, or any message, to vote in accordance with the political plans of any person, and I am grateful that they respect that. I hope people will look at my voting pattern,” Sereno said in an unprecedented meeting with the press on Wednesday. (Watch more in the video below.)
She cited two instances when she voted against the Aquino administration’s interests.
One is her vote against the law for the synchronization of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao elections with the national polls.
The other is her dissent from the SC ruling that allowed Emmanuel Maliksi, an administration ally, to hold on to his seat as mayor of Imus, Cavite.
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Voting ‘according to conscience’
What she doesn’t want, according to Sereno, is for people to “goad” her into voting “against” the administration for the sake of asserting independence.
She said she votes according to conscience. “I know I’m really independent,” she said.
Sereno, however, as an associate justice, had a history of siding with President Benigno Aquino III on key issues.
She dissented, for instance, in the majority SC opinion that ordered the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita, which was owned by the Cojuangco side of the Aquino family, to farmers. While she voted in favor of land distribution, she pegged the valuation of the land at a higher price.
Sereno was also tapped as a witness by the prosecution in the impeachment case against her predecessor, ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona. She was, however, barred by the SC from appearing before it.
She also had a history as a dissenter under the Corona court.
In Wednesday’s press conference, Sereno also vowed to clean up the judiciary, but also asked for the public’s help.
In particular, she called for the filing of affidavits against corrupt judges, and called for “evidence-based” investigation into judicial corruption.
She also downplayed intrigues of internal politics, and said she keeps “good, working professional relationships” with her fellow justices.
She said: “If our relationships weren’t good, how could we have achieved such historic landmarks?” Rappler.com