AT the outset, I want to be clear that I’m speaking for myself, without consulting the 13 other Regional Trial Court (RTC) judges who co-signed with me a Joint Statement on 14 March 2018 which was posted on Facebook (FB) that day. Substantial portions of it were also quoted in Gold Star Daily’s issue dated 16 March 2018. On the latter date, a 15th RTC Judge also signed the same, thus we inserted her name in the FB post. The hard copy with original signatures is with us.
In the said Joint Statement, we disavowed the majority decision of the Board of the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) for the organization to be one of the signatories to a Manifesto wherein an appeal was made to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for her to resign.
As we stated in the Joint Statement, there was no consultation by the Board with its members prior to voting, apparently on March 7 or so, on the issue of whether or not the PJA will join the said Manifesto. As I understand it, the majority of the Board (20 votes out of 32) were of the opinion that it was a valid exercise of their duties as officers to vote on such matter without need of consultation. This was our beef. Many judges throughout the country, including 15 of us in Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon, felt that the Board should have consulted its members first, some 1200 RTC Judges, on a controversial issue of national significance.
Be that as it may, I wish to put on record that on or about March 10, Executive Judge Dennis Z. Alcantar texted us about the March 12 “Red Monday” and the Manifesto. In fact, I received one myself. A few days ago, he sent me screenshots of the text messages he sent to the other judges who were my co-signatories, to show that he performed his duty of information dissemination as Director for the 10th Judicial Region. It also turns out that he did take inputs from two or three judges in early March, less than ideal from our point of view, and according to him for lack of time, but certainly there was some effort.
Thus, it must be acknowledged that EJ Alcantar discharged his functions in good faith, despite what turned out to be our disagreement with the Board, as a body, on the right process to follow in determining the stand of the PJA as an organization relative to the CJesignation issue.
I have written this letter without consulting my co-signatories as many are on leave and there should be no further delay in doing the right thing. Moreover, there is no retraction of the message in our Joint Statement. This is a clarification, an amplification, based on the evidence and in the interest of fairness. –Marites Filomena B. Rana-Bernales, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court Branch 39, Cagayan de Oro City