From the words of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno herself during the 16th IBP National Convention of Lawyers this year, “An environment of fear and violence is anathematic to the Rule of Law and contributes to impunity. To preserve the Rule of Law, lawyers must steel themselves, to a certain degree to develop a level of indifference to the ambient noise, and discharge their duties to the best of their abilities as their conscience dictates. Good lawyers must swim against whatever tide meets them.
“When judges and lawyers hesitate to do the right thing for fear of being derogated for the company they keep or when they respond to vilification, threats and actual violence will surrender and capitulation, the Rule of Law is shoved out and impunity steps in.”
Then she called on to the lawyers then present, “Please do not limit the reach of the law by inaction, or worse, active collaboration with those who would seek to promote impunity and diminish the Rule of Law.”
Today, CJ Sereno faces one challenge previously faced by a predecessor, an impeachment trial. As one heading one of the three pillars, Judicial Department (alongside the Executive and Legislative Branches) of the Republic of the Philippines, she stands to face against a co-equal body to sit as judges against her holding a very high and noble position in the land. Amidst the continuous and numerous issues arising from left and right, from north to south, we the public are left in disarray. From insurmountable fake news arising from social media to print, we the public have no hard facts to hold on to. Though only one thing is true and have not yet changed at the moment, we the Filipinos have fought long and hard for our freedom and democracy. This is still the Rule of Law to this day. In order to preserve it, we look not to weaken it, nor be indifferent to the very precious right we hold on to as a nation. Instead we strive to protect and preserve the Rule of Law and the gift of democracy. This is something we should pass on to our children and the children of our children. Should our system allow for impeachment, then let it be so, but on the grounds of the Rule of Law and not by rule of force or a kangaroo court, as famously known.
We stand in support of CJ Sereno as she goes against a tide of challenges. We stand in support of the Rule of Law and the democratic institutions that ensure its enablement. Should this be a form of check and balance in our form of government then it must rightly be so and not be abused for the whims and caprice of one. Again, we seek not an environment of fear and violence, where we are afraid to swim against the tides. The Judicial Department is our bastion of hope in getting redress for actual controversies, to seek justice through the grievance machinery of the land. Let it not be forgotten that we as a people built these institutions not in just one day, but through years and decades of various leadership. Let us not close our eyes and one day see everything in ruins, because we failed to safeguard what it is real and true today.