Fight threats to democracy: Sereno, Gascon, Carpio Morales

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2017 08:59 PM

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Commission on Human Rights Chair Chito Gascon, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. Composite

MANILA- Three government officials who have become the subject of President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades and criticism came together Wednesday to call on institutions to fight threats to democracy.

In remarks at the 25th anniversary of the Constitutional Fiscal Autonomy Group (CFAG), Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Chito Gascon called on civil servants to stand by the Constitution at all times.

CFAG is a group of 6 government agencies that have fiscal autonomy from the government: the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, the CHR, the Commission on Elections, the Civil Service Commission, and the Commission on Audit.

"Hindi kami nagtipon-tipon dahil may problema o krisis ang ilan sa amin," Sereno said, citing the need to speak "as clearly and strongly as we can."

The Chief Justice, who is currently facing impeachment at the House of Representatives, said there is no need to fear in fighting for the country's democracy.

"Ang aming patuloy na pagtataguyod ng demokrasya ay ayon sa aming mandato" she said, speaking at the event as impeachment proceedings against her continued at the House of Representatives.
 
"Hindi tayo dapat matakot kung tayo ay mananalig sa Konstitusyon," she said. 

Sereno also urged members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission to again work together and see how these agencies could become more effective in ensuring their fiscal independence as well in advancing the constitutional design to make them stronger institutions.

"Magsasama-sama kayo. Correct the description ng role nila sa system ng checks and balances... it's not just the three branches of government," Sereno said.

Morales, who has been heavily criticized by the President just as her agency initiated an investigation into his family's wealth, is also hopeful that agencies with fiscal autonomy will continue to uphold their integrity as independent institutions. 

"May the CFAG members continue to be bold, nawa'y maihayag ang mabuting balita, itaguyod ang karapatan, katapatan, katarungan karangalan at katapangan para sa bayang Pilipinas," Morales said.

Gascon, meanwhile, said that despite challenges faced by institutions under the current administration, the agencies must be steadfast in their mandate to protect public interest. 

"Push back in time if there's a clear abuse of authority. That must be our mandate, that must be our conviction," said Gascon, who earlier endured resignation calls and threats of defunding. 

"Hindi tayo nasa larangan ng pamumulitika, hindi tayo nasa larangan ng destabilization, tayo ay nasa larangan ng rule of law," he added.