Senior justices absent again in SC flag rites

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2012 10:30 AM | Updated as of Sep 17 2012 09:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The usual Justices attended Monday's Supreme Court (SC) flag-raising ceremony with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Associate Justices Mariano Del Castillo, Roberto Abad, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe were present, while conspicuously absent yet again are the senior Justices: Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, and Lucas Bersamin.

Associate Justice Martin Villarama, Jr. was also not around.

It was Sereno's third flag rites as chief magistrate.

High Court employees, who refused to be named, told ABS-CBN News that Sereno cannot demand the rest of the Justices to be present in the flag-raising ceremony since she hardly attended the flag rites prior to her appointment to the top judicial post.

"We rarely saw her during the flag-raising in the past... considering she was one of the most junior justices then," a Supreme Court employees' union official said.

Sereno, the third most junior magistrate prior to her appointment as chief magistrate, "bypassed" eleven senior justices to the Chief Justiceship. This broke the long-standing tradition of seniority taking precedence in the Judiciary.

While others criticized her appointment as an attempt by the Aquino government to "take control of the Judiciary," several sectors believe it will usher in a new wave of change in the embattled branch.

Sereno, apart from being the first woman Chief Justice of the country, will lead the Supreme Court for a historic 18 years.