Sereno resign? Cebu’s court workers neutral

JUDGES and personnel in the Cebu City Hall of Justice are not joining some of their colleagues at the Supreme Court who have called for the resignation of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

While five out of 15 groups of judges and employees called on the chief justice on Monday to step down, the local court judges and employees want to remain neutral in this controversy.

“We remain neutral. Lisod man ug makontrahan ta (We don’t want to be treated like an enemy),” said one judge, who requested not to be named in this story.

Another Cebu judge, who also asked not to be named, joked that the local justices prefer not to join the fray for as long as “dili lang maputol sueldo (we’ll keep getting our salaries).”

Some court workers also said they prefer to focus on work, instead of participating in a politically-driven mass action that might prejudice their employment.

Chief Justice Sereno, in a press conference also on Monday, maintained that she will not step down and will continue to fight the battle for judicial independence.

She said that resigning now, ahead of an impending trial in the Senate, would only “erode the independence of the Supreme Court” and embolden those who are seeking to undermine the Constitution.

The groups that want Sereno to resign are the Philippine Judges’ Association, Philippine Assembly of Lawyer Employees, Philippine Association of Court Employees, Sandiganbayan Employees’ Association and the Supreme Court Employees’ Association.

The groups said the impeachment proceedings against Sereno at the House of Representatives have placed the entire judiciary in disgrace.

But Sereno countered: “Out of love for the judiciary, I must continue my course. I will not resign.”

Sereno became the first woman and youngest chief justice in 2012, when then President Benigno Aquino III appointed her to replace impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Voting 38-2, the House justice committee on Thursday found “probable cause” to impeach Chief Justice Sereno.

The committee will draft the committee report listing the articles of impeachment to be submitted to the House plenary, and is set to meet on Wednesday to approve the report.

If approved by the plenary, the complaint will be endorsed to the Senate for trial. (GMD & SunStar Philippines)