CJ: ‘I trust President’s judgment’ in naming justices

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday, August 25, said she is counting on President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint competent justices as he is set to name 11 members of the Supreme Court (SC).

"I trust the President’s judgment on this matter," Sereno said in her annual meeting with the press on Thursday.

Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, had 4 appointments: Sereno herself and Justices Bienvenido ReyesEstela Perlas-Bernabe, and Marvic Leonen.

The justices to be appointed by Duterte will be almost triple the number of justices that Aquino named to the High Court. 

Referring to Duterte's multiple SC appointees during his 6-year term that ends in 2022, Sereno continued: "I give him every benefit of the doubt. He has already said that he is strongly against the corrupt, he is strongly against the laggards."

The Judicial and Bar Council applies the same standards in shortlisting candidates for SC justice, she said.

On Duterte, Sereno added, "I hope that he sees our effort in making sure that those with unsullied reputations, those who can work very, very, very hard at resolving our cases, those who can really contribute to justice, are the only ones that he will ever consider."

War on drugs

In her meeting with the press, Sereno addressed another aspect of Duterte’s presidency: his war on drugs.

Sereno answered a question about the impact on children of Duterte’s war on drugs. Journalist Malou Mangahas asked Sereno, "How should we be explaining this to our children?"

Sereno said, "I've always believed that we should really contribute to our society in ways that are uplifting and ennobling."

She added: "When you are talking about forming the minds of young people, I believe that every leader has to speak to the most noble aspirations of our people, to the good in our people, and that is my personal bias."

"I would rather help encourage good to come out, than encourage the darker side of human nature," the Chief Justice said.

"The debate between expediency and the long-term effects on us as a people, is a debate that must be engaged in," she added. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.