If President Aquino appoints the 52-year-old Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, she will be chief Justice for 18 years! — PERRY DIAZ
CJ nominees get low grade in mental test
By Jomar Canlas, Reporter
The Manila Times
TWO frontrunners in the race for the chief justice got very poor marks in the psychological test recently given by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) to nominees for the position.
Of the eight nominees in the JBC shortlist, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza got the lowest psychological evaluation rating.
Based on an 11-page Psychiatric and Psychological Report submitted to the JBC by a group of two medical psychiatrists and two psychologists, Sereno and Jardeleza got a grade of “four” after the tests.
An unimpeachable source, who disclosed the contents of the documents, said that the report was verified and noted by a lawyer whose name shall not be revealed in accordance with the doctor-patient confidentiality rule. Copies of the psychological report were distributed to JBC members during their July 19, 2012 preliminary meeting. The report bore the markings “Strictly Confidential.”
On the first page, it was explained that all of the candidates who applied for the position of chief justice shall be graded under the “Five Point Numerical Rating System.” A grade of 1 shall be considered as the highest or most superior, 3 shall be the median and five shall be the lowest or a failing mark.
A court insider lamented that JBC is becoming a “puppet” of Malacañang because of the inclusion of candidates who almost flunked the psychological test in its shortlist.
“I cannot understand JBC right now. It is very clear that if an ordinary lawyer, judge or justice applying for promotion got a grade of four in their psychiatric test, they will not be recommended. But in this case, the ones applying want the chief justice position and the Council still managed to vote for those who got low marks in their psychiatric tests. That is a dangerous precedent,” the source said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has until August 27 to appoint a new chief justice.
Sereno was interviewed on July 18, 2012, but despite her low mark, the JBC included her in the shortlist of nominees after she got six votes.
Under the existing policy of the JBC, an applicant to any position in the judiciary who garnered a grade of 4 will no longer be recommended. A candidate who got a grade of 5 shall automatically be rejected for being “mentally disturbed.”
In the case of Sereno, the report said that she keeps a smiling face to project that she is happy.
According to the report, Sereno is “dramatic and emotional, she appears energetic and all smiles and agreeable, but with religious preoccupation in almost all significant aspects of her life.
She projects a happy mood but has depressive markers too. There is a strong tendency to make decisions based on current mood thus, outcome is highly subjective and self-righteous,” the report said.
During the JBC voting, two noted jurists—Supreme Court Justice Diosdado Peralta and retired Justice Regino Hermosisima— did not vote for Sereno.
Those who voted for Sereno were Undersecretary Michael Musngi—representing the Executive Department, Sen. Francis Escudero and Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. of Iloilo province— who represent Congress, Jose Mejia—representing the Academe, Milagros Fernan-Cayosa—representing the IBP and retired Court of Appeals Justice Aurora Santiago-Lagman—representing the private sector.
Sereno was the first appointee of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to the High Tribunal and the youngest appointee to the high court at 50 in the post Martial Law era. Before her appointment as associate justice, she was the executive director of the Asian Institute of Management. She graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University with a degree of Economics. She earned her Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines College of Law and graduated as valedictorian. Sereno took her Master of Laws at the University of Michigan.
On the other hand, the report said that Jardeleza, who was appointed to his post early this year, has poor cognitive functions and a declining energy level.
“Striving is evident, but his diminishing resources cannot support or sustain this. Energy level has significantly declined which can be expressed as negativism, poor sensitivity to details, and lowered organic skills. Depressive indicators are notable from his psychological test results, which may be one reason for the unsynchronized striving and energy level,” the report said.
“His ability to conceptualize is noted, but may have difficulty in enforcing or putting his ideas into action. IQ is on the Dull Normal and cognitive functions are on the poor level,” it added.
Like in the case of Sereno, Peralta and Hermosisima did not vote for Jardeleza.
Mejia neither confirmed nor denied the report. However, he wondered how the Times was able to get a copy of it.
“Super confidential ‘yan,” was all he could say.
In a phone interview, Mejia said that he could only discuss the grading system of the psychiatric and psychological evaluations done on the candidates.
He said that a Grade of 1 is considered as Excellent, a Grade of 2 is Very Satisfactory, a Grade of 3 is Satisfactory, a Grade of 4 is Not Satisfactory and a Grade of 5 is Very Unsatisfactory.
He defended the JBC for coming out with the vote results, explaining that a psychiatric and psychological test is only one of the factors considered by the JBC in coming out with a shortlist.
“It will only serve as a basis and it is only one of the factors. It will serve as a guidance to us, but not to give adverse weight,” Mejia said.
He said that it does not follow that a nominee is a “lunatic” if he or she got low marks in the psychological test. He said a grade lower than three is not a ground for disqualification.