Judiciary in turmoil: How the SC responded to Sereno, Corona ouster cases

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2018 10:34 PM

MANILA - For the second time in the country's history, another Supreme Court chief justice is facing impeachment.

Like her predecessor, the late Renato Corona, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is facing possible ouster for alleged failure to properly declare her wealth.

But unlike the impeachment proceedings during Corona's time, the Supreme Court has reacted to Sereno's challenge in a different way.

Speaking to ANC on Tuesday, Ma. Soledad Mawis, chair of the Philippine Association of Law Schools, noted how magistrates of the high court responded to Sereno's impeachment in a different manner.

"It's very different because unlike in the Corona impeachment, no sitting justice came out or started talking against then Chief Justice Corona," Mawis told ANC's "Beyond Politics."

"Now, it's not just one or two but a number who went out to say there is something wrong with the Chief Justice," she added.

Sereno is currently on leave after her fellow justices said she should take an indefinite break from her duties as she faced impeachment proceedings.

Mawis added that employees of the High Court also responded differently to Sereno's impeachment case, saying it appears that there is growing "disenchantment" among them.

"The difference is the employees were very supportive of then chief justice Renato Corona. I remember they used to almost every day hold masses for him," Mawis said.

"[Now,] it would appear that some of them are not in support of the current chief," she added.

'INFIGHTING' 

As a lawyer, Mawis said she is saddened by the reported infighting among magistrates of the Supreme Court and how these issues have caught the public eye.

"It's like opening up a secret chamber and when the secret chamber just opened up you see they are not one," she said.

Mawis said she feels that the differences among the justices may not only be limited to their work but may also be on a personal level already.

"The fissures in the judiciary now [are] really manifest. It has manifested now for many days already and it really saddens me being a member of the legal profession, to see the highest institution, a co-equal branch of government in disarray," she said.

Sereno last week downplayed reports of infighting between her and other magistrates of the Supreme Court.

"In any organization, there will be occasions when these kinds of problems will arise, but I'm sure that in time, when the dust settles, we will all come around again and move forward to be the bringer of justice to the people," she said.

The top magistrate's comments came after tension rose between her and Associate Justice Teresita De Castro after the latter reprimanded the Chief Justice for talking about her impeachment woes in a public event.