Source: The Daily Tribune
‘SC INTERPRETER NOT MAKER OF LAW’
The expressed judicial activism of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno may turn the Supreme Court into a maker instead of an interpreter of law, Vice President Jejomar Binay warned during a testimonial dinner for Sereno last Friday night.
“The SC should never lack the will nor the courage to assure the executive and legislative branches of government will not overstep the boundaries provided them by the Constitution,” but “the high court should only exercise judicial activism to extend the dimensions of justice rather than the claims of power,” Binay said at the dinner hosted by the University of the Philippines Law Alumni Association.
“What we need to guard against is that kind of judicial activism which turns the court into a maker of law, rather than a mere interpreter of the Constitution and the law,” Binay added.
At the same event, the guest of honor Sereno replied later on that she is not an activist and gave Binay an assurance that she will strive to promote stability as Chief Justice for the next 18 years.
Binay, who had expressed his desire of becoming president, consistently tops satisfaction surveys made on government officials making him a likely major contender for the 2016 elections.
“Rather than your revolutionary rebel who is restless at heart and is just willing to tear the town hall down, I’m far from that and you can be sure that the 18 years before us will be years of judicial stability,” Sereno said in her keynote speech.
Binay said the government needed to “make sure that the strength of the law prevails against the law of the strongest. This will need a strong and judicious court.”
Nevertheless, Binay expressed confidence that Sereno will have “the time and youthful energy” to implement judicial reforms.
President Aquino appointed the 52-year-old Sereno last August in place of former Chief Justice Renato Corona who was ousted through impeachment.
“(Her being appointed at a young age) would be quite a record, but the greater record our people are looking forward to is that of a court which shall make the law and justice live not only in the rulings of its magistrates but above all in the hearts of our fellowmen,” Binay said in his speech.
He described the new SC leadership as both “historic” and “fraught with challenges” mainly as a result of the unease from some quarters, apparently referring to the more senior members of the Supreme Court.
“My faith in the judiciary and in the President’s capacity and determination to support its independence is much stronger than the fears of some critics that the recent impeachment and removal of your predecessor may have had a chilling effect on the courts,” he said adding that Sereno is expected to “exert every effort to hasten the healing process” in the judiciary.
“Rest assured we shall be standing by for your success because we want the court to succeed, and we want our country and our people to succeed,” he said.
To which Sereno said she is “tough and ready for great sacrifices” for her plan to overhaul the judiciary system during her term.
“The task before me is to prove that the words that I have spoken before the public are credible and they can be relied upon,” she said.
Sereno said for her to succeed and lead efforts for change, she will the need the support of the political leadership.
“We in the judiciary face a paradox: we are supposed to be strong and independent, but at the same time have to plead our cause before the Senate, the House and even the executive department,” she said.
While the judiciary is expected to have “spines of steel”, it must constantly negotiate with political agencies to maintain the “cherished independence” from them, she added.
“The future of the Filipinos lies in a very independent judiciary,” Sereno said adding that the other two branches of government have to trust the judiciary.
“They are endangering their parochial self-interest by trusting us, but they are [also] investing in the future,” she added.
“We (in the judiciary) see ourselves as second-class citizens vis-a-vis the political branches of government,” she added.
She said if there is anything that will ensure the stability of our nation, it will be the judiciary.
“If there is anything that can assure we will survive as a democracy, a vibrant one, where we can speak and debate without violence the issues that are raging in out time, it will have to be because there is a judiciary. There is no other alternative,” she added.
Sereno said she expects to complete the full 18-year term given to her. “There is so much work to do. If I am able to achieve milestones, it will be an 18 year plan,” she said.
Sereno said her first 10 years will be focused on “re-engineering the system” while the last eight years of her term on firmly putting in place the reforms.
She expects the “improvements go deep down and the foundations strong” when she steps down as Chief Justice.
“We want to give you a judiciary that you can be proud of,” she said.