Carvajal: Foolhardy

Orlando P. Carvajal

REFUSING to listen to her co-workers’ call for her to resign is foolhardy of Chief-Justice-On-Leave Ma. Lourdes Sereno. She is not reading correctly the writings on the wall.

She can insist all she wants that impeachment is the only constitutional way to remove her. But she needs to see that the nation’s court workers, a good number of them anyway, are sincerely telling her that resignation might be the more honorable way of preserving “judicial independence” and preventing its being “undermined.”

Impeachment, being constitutional, is not an infringement on judicial independence. The Quo Warranto case might be. But the fact that the Supreme Court is entertaining it tells us it is not unconstitutional and does not undermine judicial independence.

She ought to realize that she is fighting her war on two fronts. The calls for her to resign are clear indications that co-workers in the judiciary (notably including associate justices) are not backstopping her stand against those whom she thinks “have undermined the judiciary.” So, even if she wins the impeachment battle on one front, she would have already lost the battle to unite the Supreme Court on the other front.

She is also right that “hurts can be healed.” But that’s easier said than done. Besides, the question is not that but this: does she have the leadership quality (of emotional intelligence?) needed to unite a divided court? Like will she, even if acquitted, be able to heal the hurt of the eight justices that testified against her in Congress? Awkward, isn’t it?

That associate justices showed up at the Congressional hearings means they did not see the latter as attacks on judicial independence. Moreover, that associate justices asked her to go on leave (initially resignation but they could only be unanimous with an indefinite leave) also means that the Supreme Court was not feeling any infringement on their independence. Otherwise, they would have unanimously and staunchly stood by their Chief Justice.

Like it or not, Chief-Justice-On-Leave Ma. Lourdes Sereno has lost the Supreme Court. Nobody can force her to resign and nobody is forcing her to. But the pleas for her to resign mean she has lost the battle in home court. It means that even if she won in the impeachment court she would have no home court to return to. How would she lead co-workers in the judiciary that instead of standing by her asked her to resign?

She could more easily unify the Supreme Court against political infringement by resigning because if she, as requested, made the “ultimate sacrifice for the sake of the judiciary and of the people” she would come out of the fray a hero and patriot.

From the drift of events, to do otherwise is foolhardy.