Sereno: Outsider CJ is like a civilian sent to war
It's better for an insider to lead the high court, Sereno told the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Friday, July 27

MANILA, Philippines – Like other Supreme Court magistrates vying for the chief justice post, Associate Justice Lourdes Sereno thinks it is better for an insider to lead the high court.

Sereno told the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Friday, July 27, that an insider has deep knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of the tribunal.

“For an outsider to understand how to manage the agenda of the en banc, nakaka-shock, masyadong specialized (it’s shocking, it’s too specialized).

“Appointing an outsider is like sending a civilian instead of a general to lead a war.

“I hope the public will realize that there are excellent people within the judiciary. Reform and strength can come from within,” she added.

Earlier, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and Justice Roberto Abad also told the JBC that an insider would be the right man for the post.

Abad said an insider is “tested,” while Carpio warned an outsider will be “bad for morale.”

Carpio is among 4 senior SC members vying for the post. Abad and 52-year-old Sereno are junior members.

If appointed, Sereno will stay at the post for the next 18 years.

Asked whether she thinks her age would be a hindrance in performing the job well, she said: “Presiding over people older than me is nothing new.”

Sereno shared that her older colleagues at the Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform, whose steering committee she chaired when she was only 39 years old in 1999, “respected the efficiency of my presiding… Not a single of them expressed hesitation in giving the leadership to me.”

Hacienda Luisita case

Sereno was also asked to explain her dissenting opinion in an SC decision on the Hacienda Luisita case.

The decision declared a stock option plan for Luisita farmers unconstitutional and ordered the the distribution of the land among them. It also ordered that just compensation be paid the owners of the over 6,000-hectare sugar plantation. The Cojuangco side of President Benigno Aquino’s family were the owners.

Six justices voted to base the valuation of the land on Nov 21, 1989, the day the stock option plan was approved.

Sereno, the first appointee of Aquino in the SC, and 3 others voted that the valuation be based on the fair market value of the property on Jan 2, 2006, the day Luisita owners were served notice of coverage.

Basing it on the 2006 value would give the Cojuangcos P10 billion, more than double the amount if the 1989 valuation was used.

Farmer groups had asked Sereno to inhibit from the case, accusing her of being partial.

“First of all, there were no numbers in that decision. Not a single one put numbers that should be applied in Hacienda Luisita,” Sereno told the JBC.

“What I gave was a uniformly applied formula for computing just compensation under CARP,” she added. –

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