The Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court Judges Association (NORTCJA) officers and members yesterday said they are not joining the call for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign, and are staying neutral.
The embattled Sereno is set to arrive in Bacolod City to speak at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, and at the opening of the national convention of the Philippine Association of Court Social Workers Inc. today.
The NORTCJA officers and members, in an official statement furnished the DAILY STAR last night, said they are saddened by the recent pronouncements from some court personnel, employees’ associations and unions calling for the resignation of the Chief Justice.
“As an organization, we value consensus-building and this matter has been discussed among our members. The consensus is clear: we are and should be neutral,” the Negros judges said.
The Negros judges said they do not wish to be part of the issues besetting the Supreme Court and its personnel as their priority is to keep the courts open and to serve the people.
“We are not politicians. We do not have the luxury of publicly expressing our sentiments, unless prompted by the situation. This is one of those times that our voices need to be heard,” they said.
“We call for sobriety and prudence. We ask our fellow judges to remember our oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law; to be impartial and reserve judgment until all evidence have been presented; to be non-partisan and let due process take its course. We stand for an independent judiciary,” the NORTCJA said.
Judge Kathrine Go (Branch 59, San Carlos City), NORTCJA president, said the statement was issued with the conformity of judges Frances Guanzon (Branch 62, Bago City) – vice president, Dyna Doll Chiongson-Trocio (Branch 40, Silay City) - secretary, Blanche Therese Boluni (Branch 47, Bacolod City) – treasurer;
Amy Avellano (Branch 58, San Carlos City), Rosario Ester Orda-Caise (Branch 48, Bacolod City), Ana Celeste Bernad (Branch 44, Bacolod City), Reginald Fuentebella (Branch 73, Sagay City), Philadelfa Agraviador (Branch 43, Bacolod City), Mila Yap-Camiso (Branch 74, La Carlota City);
Estefanio Libutan Jr. (Branch 50, Bacolod City), Cyclamen Fernandez (Branch 63, La Carlota City), Walter Zorilla (Branch 55, Himamaylan City), Gwendolyn Jimenea (Branch 60, Cadiz City), Edwin Gomez (Branch 77, Sipalay City), Eduardo Sayson (Branch 54, Bacolod City), Edgar Tupas (Branch 46, Bacolod City), and Rodney Magbanua (Branch 61, Kabankalan City).
A court employee who asked not to be identified also said she and her colleagues, unlike those at the SC, did not show up in red at the Bacolod Hall of Justice yesterday to call for Sereno’s resignation because they do not want to be part of the politics going on in Manila.
“We are staying neutral,” she said.
Malacañang yesterday called on Sereno to consider the clamor for her to step down amid impeachment proceedings against her and a case before the SC seeking to void her 2012 appointment.
“We can only ask her to consider all these calls from various stakeholders within the courts itself,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
A statement signed by top officials of the Philippine Judges Association, Philippine Association of Court Employees, Supreme Court Assembly of Lawyer Employees and Supreme Court Employees Association released in Manila yesterday ur ged Sereno to resign to save the judiciary from “disrepute that affects the honor and integrity of justices, judges, and court employees.”*CPG
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