Just less than a month in office, newly-appointed Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno is already coming across as the beleaguered hapless “servant” that she pitches herself as. She should’ve been careful of what she wished for when she invoked the imagery of the martyr-like divinely-appointed “humble servant” that she used to pitch herself to the media. Her claim to her elevation to the post of Chief Justice being “God’s will” drew some reportedly snarky commentary from Senator Joker Arroyo…
Trying to look serious, Arroyo recalled Serenoâ€™s statement at the flag-raising ceremony and quoted newspaper accounts of the Chief Justice saying â€œshe is there because of Godâ€™s will, not MalacaÃ±angâ€™s will or the Presidentâ€™s.â€
â€œCan you imagine that? When we talk about ex cathedra, that means infallibility, I hope (Sereno) doesnâ€™t think that way because thatâ€™s not good. That doesnâ€™t allow for dissent,â€ he warned.
That flag-raising ceremony Arroyo was referring to, incidentally, was Sereno’s first one as Chief Justice. The ceremony, held on Monday, the 3rd September, was noted for what many considered to be a snub by no less than seven of the fourteen Supreme Court justices Sereno will be presiding over as the country’s top magistrate…
Absent were Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Presbitero Velasco, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta and Lucas Bersamin. Associate Justice Martin Villarama, who is also more senior to Sereno, was also a no-show.
Sereno, of course, did not have much of a choice but to put up a smiley brave face in front of the public following that incident where she is now widely-quoted for saying that, â€œ[her appointment to the post of Chief Justice] is neither the work of man nor of any political bloc. This is not a product of lobbying from business or economic interests but by God who knows all the plan of our nation.â€ To be fair to Sereno, deferring to “God” in the absence of any readily-comprehensible reason for why things happen is a cultural tradition in the Philippines. In a sense, she is effectively implying that the perceived “snub” by these SC justices will likely be dealt with in the “afterlife” where, as many Filipinos believe, “true justice” will be served.
Just the same, MalacaÃ±ang is not risking erosion of the value of its prized investment to the media onslaught, dispatching its top communications lieutenant to the task of talking up the market…
Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang on Tuesday sought to steer clear of the reported snub by seven justices of Serenoâ€™s first flag-raising ceremony on Monday, but said the public expected her colleagues to give her a chance to prove herself.
â€œI donâ€™t want to speculate on why some of the justices did not appear at the flag ceremony,â€ he said. â€œWhatâ€™s clear is that the Supreme Court has a new leader; no one is questioning that.â€
Of course, nobody would want to officially speculate on such matters. But that does not necessarily mean that said speculation won’t happen behind closed doors, in chicharon parties, and in the Wild-Wild West of social media and tabloid “reporting”. Indeed, media justice served Uncle Peping’s Yellow Army quite well as they were doing their slash-and-burn cultivation of the Supreme Court lackey farm early this year. The thing with Pied Pipers, however, is that they have nasty habits of eventually turning on their masters’ children.
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