CJ Sereno: I will not resign

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday, March 12, defiantly declared, " I will not resign."

This was in reaction to calls from judges and Supreme Court employees who called on her to resign during Monday's flag ceremony at the High Court.

During a gathering of supporters at Bahay Kalinaw at the University of the Philippines, Sereno said, "Allow me to explain the implications of a resignation: Kung magreresign po ako, ibig sabihin hindi ko pinaninindigan ang rule of law (If I resign, this means I am not standing by the rule of law)."

She told applauding supporters, "Hindi po ako ang nagsimula ng gulo. As I said last week, bakit ayaw nilang tapusin? Hindi pa nga po ako nakakapagsimulang magbigay ng aking panig. Kung ako ay bibitiw, mauuwi na naman ito sa isa pang biktima."

(I did not start the trouble. As I said last week, why don't they want to finish this? I haven't even started to give my side. If I resign, this will redound to having another victim.)

"Alang-alang sa Inang Bayan, kailangang labanan ko ‘to. Para hindi maulit ang kalapastanganan ng iba," Sereno said, even as the SC employees also earlier asked her to step down for the benefit of the entire nation. (For the sake of the country, I have to fight this. So that this injustice by others will not be repeated.)

The SC employees who sought Sereno's resignation said in their statement: "The pending impeachment proceedings in recent months have put the entire judiciary in disrepute, thereby affecting the honor and integrity of its justices, judges, officials have pitted against each other resulting in a distressing atmosphere. This is aggravated by the fact that the Court en banc has taken cognizance of the petition for quo warranto and ordered her to file her comment thereto, instead of dismissing it outright."

"We are calling on you, also for the benefit of the entire nation, to step down as Chief Justice," the employees said in Filipino.

But Sereno said, "Hangga’t ako ay may lakas, lalabanan ko ‘to." (I will fight this until I have the strength to do so.)

Peace in the judiciary?

Sereno took a swipe at those in the judiciary pushing her to resign for the sake of peace.

Hinihingi ko po ang pang-unawa ng nananawagan ng aking resignation na mag-‘move on’ na ang judiciary. Anong kapayapaan ang tinatawag ninyo kung walang katarungan?” the Chief Justice said.

(I ask for the understanding of those who call for me to resign so the judiciary can “move on.” What kind of peace are you looking for if there is no justice?)

Walang katarungang makakamit hangga’t hindi mapapahayag ang bawat panig. Hintayin ninyo ang aking panig sa Senado,” she added. (No justice will be served unless every side has been heard. Wait [to hear] my side at the Senate.)

Impeachment trial

Currently, the Senate is in “preparation mode” for Sereno's impeachment trial. The impeachment court might convene in May but the earliest time for the trial itself will lkely be end of July, after the State of the Nation Address, Senate leaders said.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said they might convene as an impeachment court in May, but this is only to discuss procedures and send summons, which would likely take at least a month. 

The 2nd session of the 17th Congress is set to adjourn on June 2. The 3rd session opens when President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address in July.

Last March 8, by a vote of 38-2, the House committee on justice deemed an impeachment complaint against Sereno as having probable cause. The House is expected to vote on the complaint in May 2018, after it takes a two-month break.

Imbis na perya ang lalabas sa Senado, lalabas ang liwanag…Hayaan lang lumabas ang katotohanan,” she said. (Instead of a circus, light will come out in the Senate. Let’s allow the truth to come out.)

The prepared statement seeking Sereno's resignation was signed by several groups, including the Philippine Judges Assocation. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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