By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said she will not resign as she asked the House committee on justice to already render judgement on her impeachment case and submit it to the Senate to allow her to present her side.
“I have been persistently saying to those who have asked me to resign: No I will not,” Sereno said.
“I will give an account of my actions as Chief Justice to the people. I don’t owe anyone the duty to resign. I owe the people the duty to tell my story,” Sereno added.
Sereno, who is facing impeachment charges, spoke before judges, lawyers and law students among others on judicial reforms at the University of Baguio on March 2.
Sereno called on everyone to respect the impeachment proceedings as she called on the House committee on justice to quickly resolve her impeachment case instead of prolonging the agony and “calling for extra-constitutional help to facilitate the ouster of the chief justice”.
“Either the House has found probable cause or not, and if it has, the House must submit it already to the senate,” she said.
“I ask only one thing from the political leaders, give me my day in the Senate impeachment, or admit there is no probable cause,” she added.
Sereno said she is standing her ground to keep the judiciary independent from outside pressures by introducing reforms. She said that reforms will not only equip courts to be able to face today’s challenges and at the same strengthen the judicial system to be able to assert its space among democratic institutions.
“Judicial independence can only be realized when we allow our courts to exercise its constitutional mandate free of intimidation,” Sereno pointed out during a forum on judicial reforms at the University of Baguio.
“I remain steadfast in fighting for judicial independence. I have faith that in the end what some unpatriotic men and women have intended for evil in the form of my impeachment, God will turn into good,” she continued.
Sereno is hopeful that after the impeachment trial, the Supreme Court will still be renewed and be united to serve the people and protect their constitutional rights.
In an emailed statement, Atty. Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) said that the Constitution recognizes impeachment as the only way to remove a chief justice from office. He urged that the Constitutional processes defined for an impeachment trial be followed.
“Any artifice or device intended to solely target the Chief Justice and short-circuit the process would be repugnant to the Constitution, and must be slain on sight if our democratic processes are to be observed,” Fajardo said.
Fajardo said that security of tenure is the foundation of judicial independence which shields judges from the political elements that “may have played a role in their appointment on the bench”.
“We breathe life into this prized democratic value by according the Chief Justice due process of law in accordance with the rules governing the difficult process of impeachment,” he said.
“This will also afford our people the opportunity to decide for themselves whether the causes against her are contrived or artificial, or are impressed with merit as to necessitate the extreme measure of removal from office,” he added. # nordis.net