Newly appointed Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro promised to instill independence as she took her oath of office on Tuesday, August 27, at the Supreme Court.
De Castro said that she will not find any difficulty in proving her independence from the president as she is confident that her appointment was hard earned.
“I have no problem maintaining the independence of the judiciary,” the new chief justice said as reported by The Philippine Star.
De Castro also dismissed all allegations that Duterte’s appointment was a reward for her role in the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“Up to this time, I have not met the president. I haven’t seen him or approached him, whether directly or through anybody. He appointed me without knowing me personally,” De Castro said.
Many who opposed De Castro’s acquisition of the post claimed that the current chief justice was rewarded for taking part in Sereno’s removal from office considering that Duterte publicly declared Sereno his enemy. De Castro urged them to look at her record instead.
“I think they should look at my record. I do not think that one incident would have been enough to elevate me to the highest position in the judiciary,” she pointed out.
She also said that the president will not get in the way of the country’s judicial system nor will he do something that would impact negatively on the third branch of government.
“I don’t think the President will do anything to negatively affect the independence of the judiciary,” she explained.
De Castro praised Duterte in his selection based on seniority as it appeals to her favor. She then expressed her inclination to follow the manner of choosing a leader with the most experience in their respective fields.
“We would like to express our appreciation that the president has that strong political will, to see to it that the merit system, which is the hallmark of public appointment in public service, is followed, and in upholding the time-honored tradition of seniority in the (SC),” she pointed out.
Following the mandatory retirement age of 70, the said chief justice will only be in office for less than two months. However, she explained that regardless of this fact, seniority must still be observed.
“Seniority is important because who is senior will have vast experience as to the workings of the court. It is expected that the senior members will have the respect of the rest of the members of the court,” she explained.
The new chief justice also denied the allegations that the impeachment complaints against her and six other justices will reflect poorly on her duties.
“I have no time to think about it because you know as you mentioned, I have very few weeks to work here in the court and I don’t want to be distracted by anything else, my schedule is full. I have so many activities set in the coming weeks, I do not wish to be distracted by that (impeachment),” she replied.
De Castro is also scheduled to take her oath before the president in a ceremony at Malacañang Palace on Friday, August 31. n