MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) backed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as she faces two impeachment complaints endorsed mostly by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Despite the lamentable impeachment complaints lodged against her, we have complete confidence that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who above all else is a true follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, unwaveringly demonstrates professional excellence and moral uprightness in performing all duties that are incumbent upon her," the PCEC said in a statement on Wednesday, September 6.
"In this crucial time, wherein her impeachment endangers the foundations of our nation's democratic institutions, PCEC calls on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to recognize Chief Justice Sereno as a valuable ally in his fight against all forms of corruption and injustice," the PCEC added.
Sereno, 57, is a Born Again Christian.
Bishop Noel Alba Pantoja, PCEC national director, signed the statement on Sereno.
Founded in 1965, the PCEC said it is now the largest network of Christian "denominations, churches, mission groups, and para-church organizations nationwide."
Bishop Chito Sanchez, who represented the PCEC in an interfaith movement in 2016, said the PCEC is composed of about 30,000 Evangelical churches in the Philippines.
PCEC members include Christ's Commission Fellowship, Victory Christian Fellowship, the Salvation Army, and the Baptist Conference of the Philippines Incorporated.
In its statement on Wednesday, the PCEC said it endorsed her appointment as chief justice in August 2012 "without any reservation."
Back then, she was named chief justice by then President Benigno Aquino III to replace Renato Corona, who was dismissed by an impeachment court for betraying public trust and failing to declare his true assets.
Five years after her appointment, allies of Duterte want her impeached over supposed unauthorized travel allowances for her staff, as well as her questionable moves in the High Court.
Read the full PCEC statement below:
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) upholds that godly character and integrity are essential traits for the leaders of our nation. The Holy Bible declares, "It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, for a throne is established on righteousness" (Proverbs 16:12). Despite the lamentable impeachment complaints lodged against her, we have complete confidence that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who above all else is a true follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, unwaveringly demonstrates professional excellence and moral uprightness in performing all duties that are incumbent upon her.
PCEC endorsed her appointment as Chief Justice without any reservation back in 2012 because we believed she will defend with fairness and justice the Rule of Law and effectuate genuine reform in our country's judicial system. We have no reason not to believe it now. Since her appointment Chief Justice Sereno has led within the bounds of her office in calling for and working toward bringing about an independent judiciary, greater accountability of government officers, stronger protection of human rights, and tougher fight against the culture of impunity. We applaud her for taking principled stands through all these years, even at the expense of popularity, to serve the cause of what is good, right, fair, and just.
In this crucial time, wherein her impeachment endangers the foundations of our nation’s democratic institutions, PCEC calls on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to recognize Chief Justice Sereno as a valuable ally in his fight against all forms of corruption and injustice. We call on our lawmakers to see her as a staunch co-protector of the Constitution and a virtuous co-partner in policy making. We call on members of the judicial branch to stand firmly with her in advancing the Rule of Law. We call on all men and women of goodwill to pray for truth and justice to prevail in the impeachment proceedings, and with Chief Justice Sereno, to be vigilant in guarding peacefully our nation’s democracy and civil liberties.
"Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.