MANILA Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. urged the members and employees of the judiciary to give Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno a chance to defend herself at the Senate impeachment trial.
Davide's call came after some judges and employees wearing red called for Sereno's resignation in a flag ceremony at the Supreme Court on Monday (March 12). A similar thing happened in the flag-raising rites at the Supreme Court the previous Monday (March 5).
In a statement released also on Monday (March 12), Davide said the calls of judges and court employees for Sereno's resignation "will destroy the faith" of the Filipinos in the judiciary, as the "judges themselves are unwilling to await the results of a constitutional proceeding or statutory process."
"The call is condemning without the evidence, judging before hearing, applying additional political pressure on the Chief Magistrate, rather than according her the rights to a fair trial, to a substantive and procedural due process, and even to the rule of law," he added.
Davide further pointed out that calls for resignation are worse than the quo warranto case filed at the Supreme Court and the impeachment proceedings at the House of Representatives.
He said the calls would change the perception of the public on the judiciary's role as a bastion of justice and fairness.
Davide also echoed the call of Sereno to the judicial branch of government and its employees to avoid "getting involved in the political fray."
Sereno rejected on Monday new calls for her to resign, adding resigning could "erode the independence of the Supreme Court and embolden those who demand a subservient judiciary".
Four out of 15 court employees' unions, including the Philippine Judges Association (PJA), have released a joint statement on Monday urging her to resign and save the judiciary from "disrepute that affects the honor and integrity of justices, judges, and court employees."
These were the Supreme Court Employees Association (SCEA), Supreme Court Assembly of Lawyer Employees (SCALE), Philippine Association of Court Employees (PACE), and the Sandiganbayan Employees Association (SEA).
Last March 8, the House of Representatives' justice committee found probable cause to impeach Sereno after almost seven months of hearing.
The impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon contains four grounds, including corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and other high crimes.
Sereno was cited with an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives based on her failure to indicate her entire PHP30-million fee in the arbitration proceedings against the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) as government counsel in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
Sereno's legal team earlier said the Chief Justice was not able to indicate the entire fee, as she collected the sum in tranches.
Source: Philippine News Agency