MANILA — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday urged the members of the judiciary to focus on fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.
The Chief Justice made the appeal amid the impeachment proceedings against her before the House of Representatives.
“To the men and women of the judiciary. Please continue, focus on your work. Nothing should distract us.”
Speaking at the 14th Metrobank Foundation Professorial Lecture on “Judicial Accountability and Disciplinary Action Now and Beyond” at the Supreme Court, Sereno advised court officials and employees to continue their work “undistracted, professionally and excellently as they have been doing in the past.”
“There is much to be done for this country. Our country is crying for justice and above all may we continue to trust the Almighty God,” Sereno added.
She stressed that it is also important for members of the judiciary to “monitor and watch and be on the lookout for the hallmarks of independence, integrity and dignity of the judiciary to be preserved.”
“It is most important to me that the dignity and independence of the judiciary is preserved. And that has been the principle I have been observing in my conduct in all of these times,” she pointed out.
Sereno also insisted on her innocence on the charges leveled against her in the impeachment complaint of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon — which she already addressed in her verified answer.
“I have submitted myself to this process according to the rights that are accorded in my position. And I hope that you have taken it in all good faith that my intent is to defend the dignity and independence of the judiciary,” she told SC officials and employees.
“In various fora, I have already tried to encapsulate in very, very brief form why the charges against me, in fact, should bear no sufficient basis,” the SC chief added.
Sereno has opted not to attend the impeachment hearing against her in the House.
She decried the decision of the House justice committee to deny her lawyers the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses summoned by the panel, calling it a violation of her constitutional rights.
Sereno made the call after Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and other ranking SC officials testified in the impeachment proceedings before the House of Representatives justice committee and as three or four more magistrates are expected to appear in the hearings next week.
Apart from De Castro, Associate Justices Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam, Samuel Martires and retired Associate Justice Arturo Brion are expected to testify in the impeachment hearings.
The Chief Justice has a pending impeachment complaint in Congress. She is accused of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.
The House Committee on Justice has already voted to declare that there was sufficient ground to proceed with the impeachment proceedings filed by lawyer Larry Gadon.