Chief Justice Malou Sereno is having some difficulty settling in.
Her appointment was widely hailed except in her backyard where it most counts. Two of her peers in the JBC did not vote for her, nine of her co-Justices boycotted her oath-taking and seven her first flag raising ceremony as Chief Magistrate. There is a campaign questioning her psychological capacity to lead the institution (A similar query, incidentally, was raised of P-Noy during the Presidential campaign and he has turned out just fine). The JBC psychological report ostensibly cited her “religious preoccupation”.
A good number of Justices seem to take umbrage that the youngest among them was appointed Chief. This dooms any prospects of their ever reaching this position. They may believe Sereno’s appointment was politically motivated to ensure the President is legally covered post-2016.
There are other sectors who are uneasy with the Sereno appointment. The Church is reportedly concerned that, with her connection to the Palace, the Chief Justice will not give the RH Bill a fair shake once it reaches the Court; which it is bound to do.
The Luisita farmers are allegedly worried Sereno’s appointment will make it more expensive to assume their land rights. She voted in favor of valuing Hacienda Luisita at the higher figure as of 2006 rather than as of 1989. The Court has already ruled 8-6 for the latter valuation and Sereno is wise enough to leave the matter alone.
Malacanang has come out in support of the Chief Justice but there is little it can do if the magistrates continue to be intransigent. She is on her own. In the meantime the nation may have to wait for any meaningful initiatives until the impasse is settled.
The CJ can act independently on certain matters. As ex-officio chair of the Judicial & Bar Council, she can influence the selection of judges at all levels. She also has administrative and disciplinary powers over sitting judges.
However, Sereno will need the support of her peers if she is to successfully put her imprimatur on the “Sereno Court” particularly on judicial processes and key decisions. Here are some things she might do:
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.