The Supreme Court is aptly called the last bulwark of democracy. As the final interpreter of the Constitution and the law, the Court occupies a critical role in the protection of civil liberties and the prevention of excesses by both the legislature and the executive. In short, a truly democratic State cannot exist without a stable and independent judiciary, which ironically happens to be the weakest among the three co-equal branches of Government.
An impeachment proceedings is an extra-ordinary way to remove from office a high public official occupying a position created by the Constitution. Because its target is an important public official, such proceedings has a very disruptive effect and must, therefore, be resorted to sparingly and only in extreme situations where the grounds relied upon are clear and compelling.
The impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno comes closely in the heels of the impeachment and subsequent removal of then Chief Justice Renato Corona. We fear that this consecutive attack against the head of the judiciary might create an unintended chilling effect on present and future justices that will eventually weaken the Court.
Without going into the merits of the impeachment complaint, the LAIKO unequivocally expresses its full support for Chief Justice Sereno. Our knowledge of how the Chief Justice conducts herself gives us reason to believe that she is a person of integrity unsullied by any hint of corruption. Her well-written opinions for the High Court are masterful and demonstrate an uncommon probity, impartiality, and intellectual acumen worthy of her high position.
Under Chief Justice Sereno’s watch, the Supreme Court has accomplished unprecedented reforms in the Judiciary, not least its computerization initiative that ensures transparency and accountability in the High Court and in the entire judiciary. Indeed, she is not only a woman of principles but a leader of action as well.
We therefore enjoin all Filipinos to speak up for what is right and to defend our democratic institutions. We also endorse the statement of the Coalition for Justice.
For the Board of Directors of Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas,
ZENAIDA F. CAPISTRANO
+MOST REV. BRODERICK S. PABILLO, D.D.
LAIKO National Director
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Laity
06 December 2017