- Published on Thursday, 06 September 2012 00:00
- Written by NESTOR MATA
By A Web design Company
‘These jaw-dropping words were spoken by Chief Justice Sereno before some justices, officials and employees of the Supreme Court last Monday.’
WHEN Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was quoted in newspaper reports as having declared her appointment was “God’s will,” I thought at first it was a terminological inexactitude. But it turned out to be true. She did say those jaw-dropping words in a speech before some justices, officials and employees who attended her first flag-raising ceremony at the Supreme Court grounds last Monday morning.
“The whole world is a witness that my appointment,” Sereno said, as translated from Pilipino, “came from God only. Not by any person, not by any political bloc, and not by any lobbying by business or economic interest groups. But only God knows what his plans are for the people.” And, she boldly proclaimed, “… it is time to give the leadership of the Supreme Court to one of his humble servants!”
Sereno’s jaw-dropping words made me wonder whether she’s a person who often prays to God to direct her in life, and whether God hears and answers her prayers for her needs, her concerns, and whatever issues are current in her life. If so, then no wonder she said that God has heard and answered whatever she asked for, as manifested by the latest event that has played out in her life. And that’s why she said it was God’s will to anoint her as the new chief magistrate.
Her religiosity was in fact confirmed by results of tests conducted by a team of psychiatrists and psychologists for the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) in its search for nominees for the position of chief justice. According to the test results, she’s “…dramatic and emotional, appears energetic and all smiles and agreeable, but with a religious preoccupation in almost all significant aspects of her life.”
This “religious preoccupation” was indeed reflected by Sereno, after her appointment by as chief justice, when she told that gathering of justices, officials and employees in the Supreme Court grounds, “Ito po ay galing sa Panginoong Diyos lamang!” And, with a dramatic flourish, she said, “I face you with all humility, I am your leader but I am your servant leader…” (This sounded like another version of her “godfather’s” words of, “Kayo ang boss ko!”). Then she pleaded to them “to trust me and to work double time because much is needed to be done to institute reforms…Can I count on you to do this? Can we ignore intrigues as well as rumors?”
What a jaw-dropping performance by the first woman and youngest chief justice ever! Still, her reaching out for help in instituting reforms in the SJ and the judiciary indicated she’s fully aware that her appointment had bypassed senior justices, and even dashed hopes of other justices to reach the coveted top position because she’ll be serving for 18 years, a tenure that will last long, long after the “godfather” who appointed her, has bowed out of the presidency.
So, apparently sensing that this might complicate her days, months and years as chief magistrate, Sereno heeded Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s warning that she’ll be “the target of all kinds of judicial undercurrents…and the senior justices are extremely unhappy that you jumped the queue, and you should be prepared to meet all kinds of non-cooperation in the tribunal.”
Thus, in her speech before those SC justices and officials and employees, Sereno called on her fellow justices – those who were present as well as the senior jurists who were notably absent – to support her in carrying out reforms in the judiciary, an assignment given to her by the President.
One of Sereno’s classmates at the Ateneo de Manila University has attested to her “brilliance, fortitude, independence, and strong ethical compass…,” but are these traits enough to help her cope with those stark realities of facing not only the silent wrath of senior and more experienced justices who felt “insulted” by her appointment by her “godfather” in the Palace along the murky waters of the Pasig River?
Besides, Sereno has not yet responded to the issue about her having flunked (she reportedly got a low grade of four, which should have disqualified her according to JBC rules!) the mental fitness that were commissioned by the JBC. The results of those tests of Sereno and other nominees are considered highly confidential by the executive committee of the JBC, now headed ex-officio by Sereno as chief justice.
And, in answer to demands for her waiver of her statement of her wealth, she released a “corrected” Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). But she sought refuge in her avowed “dignified silence” when she declined to answer criticisms about her religious beliefs, and skepticism about her independence by critics in judicial and legal and media circles, and that she’s a “puppet” of President Noynoy Aquino.
This is a good time as any to commend to Sereno what Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit in the Supreme Court of the United States, once voiced: “When a judge puts on his or her court robe, he or she does not immediately become better equipped intellectually to do the job!”
Oh, these may not be God-given words, Madame Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, but heed them, if you please, and pray that you’ll find your decade and eight years-long tenure in the high tribunal won’t be as stormy as it looks today!
Thought of the Day: “Judges rule on the basis of the Constitution and the laws of the land, not public opinion, and they should be totally indifferent to pressures of the times!” – Warren E. Burger.