MANILA - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday called on members of the judiciary to not to lose hope amid "troubled times."
In her first public address since taking an indefinite leave to prepare for a possible impeachment trial, Sereno asked judges, lawyers, and law students to take courage even "while the past few days seem to carry a dark foreboding."
On Thursday, Supreme Court magistrates forced Sereno to take a leave of absence over "several reasons" that were not elaborated.
Earlier, several Supreme Court magistrates appeared before the House justice committee to testify against Sereno's alleged violation of the high court's collegiality.
"I am hopeful that after the impeachment trial, days of renewal for the Supreme Court can still be forged, united by the common desire to serve our people and protect their constitutional rights especially in these troubled times," Sereno said in a speech delivered at the University of Baguio.
"While the past few days seem to carry a dark foreboding, it is when hope seems to be at its dimmest that you must be at your bravest," she said.
"You must not lose hope. You must continue to fight and never give up. We simply cannot give up," she added.
Sereno also asked judges, lawyers, and law students to help the public understand the rule of law especially in the age of disinformation.
"If you find yourselves in a position to help people understand how the law works, then by all means do so, especially in a world where alternative facts and fake news are blurring the lines between truth and lies," Sereno said.
"Dahil sa pagwawalang kibo at pagwawalang bahala ay hindi natin naa-address ang corruption at violence na gumagapi sa ating bayan," she said.
Sereno is facing an impeachment case over her alleged misdeclared wealth and extravagant lifestyle. She has denied the charges, but said there is high probability that she would be brought to trial before the Senate sitting as in impeachment court.
She is counting on the chamber for fairness.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon initiated the impeachment complaint against Sereno last year, saying her actions amounted to culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.