MANILA, Philippines – For Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the country’s next president should be committed to the 1987 Constitution.
Sereno bared the qualities she would like to see in the country’s next Chief Executive, in response to questions in an interview with reporters on Thursday, July 2.
“The next president will hopefully look at the constitutional design,” Sereno said.
Sereno said if only the government had strictly adhered to the Constitution since its creation, then there will be “stabiity in our country that will augur well for the future” and a “more modern and responsive society.”
“If we had been faithfully following the Constitution, If we only had the COA [Commission on Audit] that had been consistently doing its job from the first time it was created, and an Ombudsman that was also doing its job, the judiciary that is faithful to its duty…we would not be having this,” she said.
Sereno was referring to what she characterized as “somewhat start-up problems where we are trying to align everything to a more cohesive justice system.”
She also said the next president must take into account the constitutional checks and balances or the independence of the executive, legislative, and judiciary.
“So any president who takes the position will have to account for the fact that the primary duty is not to ensure that power is concentrated in the Office of the President. That should not be done but rather, that the constitutional design for the checks and balances for an accountable government is observed,” Sereno said.
Sereno, however, would not indicate who she would support in 2016.
President Benigno Aquino III appointed Sereno in August 2012, making her the country’s first female Chief Justice. She will serve until 2030, a period that will span 4 presidents.
Alluding to Aquino?
Malacañang, for its part, believed Sereno’s statement regarding the need for Chief Executive who adheres to the Constitution does not allude to Aquino.
Under Sereno’s watch, the Supreme Court deemed certain executive actions under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a flagship program of the Aquino administration, as unconstitutional.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a news briefing on Friday, July 3, that it is common for “executive action” to be questioned before the High Court.
“We don’t take it as an affront to the President. We wish her well. This is just one of the many birthdays that CJ Sereno will spend as the Chief Magistrate of the Supreme Court. So she is expected to sit through the next 3 presidents. But no, we do not feel that the President is alluded to,” Valte said.
After SC’s initial ruling on the DAP ruling, Aquino expressed dismay over the High Court’s “excessive” involvement in issues. (READ: Aquino: It seems the SC wants to meddle in everything)