MANILA, Philippines – Newly installed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday appealed to her fellow magistrates and employees to ignore the issues and controversies besetting the high court for the sake of the judiciary.
In a speech after her first Supreme Court flag ceremony as chief justice, Sereno appealed to SC employees to continue to work hard and ignore the issues in the courts that attracted media attention since the impeachment of deposed chief justice Renato Corona.
"Maaari po bang hindi muna natin pansinin ang mga intriga?" Sereno asked the Court's employees.
The newly installed chief justice also said she is excited to institute reforms in the judiciary, which has been plagued by problems such as lack of manpower.
She assured SC employees of her support amid the high court's tight budget.
"Narito po ako upang maghanap ng solusyon kasama na po ang aking mga colleagues sa Korte Suprema. Nagsusumamo po ako na pagkatiwalaan niyo kami, na naiintidihan namin ang hinaing ninyo at nais naming makahanap ng solusyon," she said.
"Ang hinihingi ko po sa inyo, gaya ng hiningi ko sa taumbayan, na pinagbigyan naman nila tayo, ay bigyan ninyo kami ng karampatang panahon upang pag-isipan ang mga napakaraming problema ng hudikatura."
Sereno said she is now working on solving the SC's budget problem. She expressed confidence that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will finally boost the Court's coffers.
"Mukhang gaganda po yata ang magiging usapan. So maaari po bang hilingin sa inyo na ipagdasal ang usapan sa Department of Budget [and Management]?" she appealed to SC employees.
"Wala pong dahilan na ako ay nangangamba na sila po'y magbibingi-bingihan sa ating hinaing. Wala po akong takot na ibibigay nila sa atin ang kailangan nating tulong."
Sereno hopes that with the issuance of a bigger budget for the judiciary, court employees will finally experience better working conditions.
"Panahon na po para tulungan natin na magkaroon kayo ng kaunting espasyo at kaunting dignidad sa inyong mga opisina. Importante sa moral ng bawat isa sa atin na maayos ang opisina," she said.
Appointed by God
Sereno also assured her fellow magistrates and court personnel that her leadership at the SC will be marked by sincere service that cannot be influenced.
She said she was not appointed to the chief justice position by any political or business block. She said she was appointed by God.
"Hindi po ito gawa ng tao, hindi po ito gawa ng kahit sinong political block. Hindi po ito produkto ng pagla-lobby ng business or economic interests, kundi ng Diyos na may alam ng tama para sa ating bayan," she said.
"Buong pagkukumbaba akong humaharap sa inyo. Ako po ay inyong lider, ngunit ako ay inyo ring servant leader."
Sereno also described the court's personnel as one of the country's unsung heroes due to their dedication despite their working conditions.
"Marami po ang hindi alam ng publiko tungkol sa atin. Hindi po nila alam ang hirap ng ating trabaho. Hindi po nila alam ang ating mga kondisyon kung anong hitsura ng ating mga korte, at hitsura ng ating mga opisina. Hindi po nila alam na malimit ay bumubunot tayo sa ating mga sariling bulsa upang ang trabaho ay di maputol," she said.
"Hindi nila alam ang dangers na hinarap ng ating pamilya. Panahon na po upang tayo ay ganap na makilala ng sambayanang Pilipino," she added.
Sereno, the first appointee of President Benigno Aquino III to the SC, filled the lone vacancy in the SC created by the appointment of Associate Justice Renato Corona as Chief Justice.
She made history by being the first woman chief justice.
Sereno, 52, can stay at her post until she reaches the retirement age of 70, making her 18-year term as the second longest in the country's history.
The longest on record is the country's first Chief Justice, Cayetano Arellano, who stayed as chief magistrate from June 1, 1901 to April 1, 1920.