MANILA - Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro has reiterated that the Supreme Court will be independent, as she emphasized the need for other branches of government to respect the judiciary's decisions.
"The other members of the co-equal and independent branches of government should understand that based on our constitutional order, the decisions reached by the justices of the Supreme Court, whether unanimously or by majority vote, must be respected," De Castro said.
"And each of the justices have done that: studying meticulously the constitution, the law, the rules, and the evidence on record. So we demand respect from the other members of the co-equal and coordinate [branches] of government," she added.
The SC is recovering from what De Castro dubbed as "turbulent months," amid the impeachment and quo warranto proceedings against ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
De Castro also urged colleagues and subordinates to keep working for a “united Supreme Court” that will continue to overcome present and future challenges.
“People outside would like to judge us by what they hear or see from afar but it is us, the justices, the employees and officials of the court who know what is happening inside the Supreme Court. We should be left alone to decide for ourselves,” De Castro addressed the sea of blue.
“Just like before, let us stand united,” she added.
The chief magistrate explained that the support of court officials and employees “spelled a big difference” in making the public understand what the high court was “aspiring for” at the height of the Sereno quo warranto proceedings.
SEA OF BLUE
The newly appointed head of the judiciary delivered her message during a flag raising ceremony dubbed "Blue Monday" — her first since she was tapped for the top judicial post late last month.
De Castro was also wearing blue.
De Castro said she never imagined being chief justice, especially not during her last few weeks in the SC.
De Castro, the second most senior at the high court prior to her appointment as chief justice, will reach the mandatory age of retirement of 70 on October 8.
“When I started to right what I believe was wrong in the running of this court in 2012, I never imagined that [things] would come to this. And I’m very thankful for your warm welcome.
“For the past almost a year, we have been through trying times. And yet during those times, you have shown your resiliency and your dedication to your duties, trying to rise above your personal feelings in order that the court will work normally even if the court is being attacked on several sides,” she said.
She explained that “the Chief Justice is the first but equal nonetheless with each of the Associate Justices of the court.”
“No one can claim superiority over the others.”
It could be recalled that De Castro and several other justices who appeared during the ousted magistrate's impeachment hearings at the House of Representatives expressed their dismay at Sereno’s penchant for undermining the collegiality of the SC and acting on important matters minus the permission of the court, sitting en banc.