CJ Sereno hopes for SC unity

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 13 2012 10:21 AM | Updated as of Dec 13 2012 09:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno called for unity in the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday after fellow justices last Tuesday voided her order creating a new judicial office in the Visayas.

In her brief message to SC employees during their Christmas party, Sereno vowed to pursue her mission of being a “servant leader” in her 18-year term.

“In the challenges we are going to face, I fervently pray for true unity, not only this Christmas, but also in the coming years,” Sereno said in Filipino.

“Everything I do is based on the belief that all of us will have to render an accounting of what we have done in this life. My responsibility is to be your servant leader. I will do what I need to do in order to serve,” she added.

Last Tuesday, the justices overruled Sereno’s Administrative Order No. 175 that created the new Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) and reopened the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) in Cebu City.

The high court collegially decided to first conduct a needs assessment of decentralization.
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Sereno issued the AO last Nov. 27 without collegial approval of the high court, according to an internal memorandum of Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro.

Sereno even facilitated the reopening rites of RCAO after issuing her order.

Sereno was appointed by President Aquino last August, bypassing senior magistrates of the high court to replace impeached Renato Corona.

Meanwhile, Sereno is set to fly to Washington with three other justices for a four-day official visit and “peer-to-peer exchange” with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and members of the US Supreme Court.

She has just arrived from Melaka, Malaysia last Monday after attending the 2nd Roundtable for Association of Southeast Asian Nations Chief Justices on Environmental Law and Enforcement.

In her official trip to the US, Sereno will be joined by Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Mariano del Castillo and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor and former SC justice Adolf Azcuna.

The SC said all the magistrates will meet in Washington to discuss, among other things, “maintaining judicial stability in a rapidly changing environment.”