By LINA SAGARAL REYES,
and LITO RULONA, Correspondent .
FOURTEEN judges went public on Wednesday in the wake of “Red Monday” which saw four court-associated groups urging Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign instead of undergoing the impeachment process in the Senate.
The 14 judges from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of the 10th Judicial Region signed a statement for judicial independence.
The statement was signed by the judges holding office in Cagayan de Oro, Malaybalay, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin. It was uploaded on social media, particularly Facebook, late afternooon of that day.
The statement emphasized in capital letters towards its end: “Let the impeachment process take its course. We stand for an independent judiciary.”
The hashtag #judicialindependence has been appended to the statement on Facebook.
- Florencia Sealana Abbu, RTC 17, Cagayan de Oro City
- Vincent Filomeno Rosales, RTC 23, Cagayan de Oro City
- Henry B. Damasing, RTC 24, Cagayan de Oro City
- Jose L. Escobido, RTC 37, Cagayan de Oro City
- Emmanuel Pastores Pasal, RTC 38, Cagayan de Oro City
- Marites Filomena Rana-Bernales, RTC 39, Cagayan de Oro City
- Ma. Corazon B. Gaite-Llanderal, RTC 40, Cagayan de Oro City
- Marissa P. Estabaya, RTC 44, Initao, Misamis Oriental
- Judy Sia-Galvez, RTC 42, Medina, Misamis Oriental
- Isobel G. Barroso, RTC 8, Malaybalay City
- Ma. Theresa A. Camannong, RTC 9, Malaybalay City
- Eldred D. Cole, RTC 45, Malaybalay City
- Wilfredo G. Bilbera, Jr., RTC 46, Malaybalay City
- Nannette Michote E. Lao, RTC 28, Camiguin
As of March 9 this year, the Judicial and Bar Council lists 41 RTC judges under the 10th Judicial Region, comprising of Agusan del Norte (seven judges), Agusan del Sur (3), Bukidnon (5), Misamis Occidental (5), Misamis Oriental (17), Camiguin (1) and Surigao del Norte (3).
The signatories of the statement are broken down geograpically as follows: one for Camiguin (100%), nine for Misamis Oriental (52 percent), and four for Bukidnon (80 percent).
The statement was adapted from a previous statement issued on March 11 by the Negros Occidental RTC Judges Association (NORTCJA) after the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) took a stand to pressure Chief Justice to resign, along with three other organizations.
The judges said they were “saddened that the PJA leadership, by a majority vote of some 20 officers, opted to support the call for the resignation of the Chief Justice without consulting many of us. We value consensus-building.”
They further stressed that “this serious matter was not exhaustively discussed with us, neither was it debated upon among us, some 1,200 RTC judges nationwide. It was premature for the leadership to make this call for the organization.”
The judges signed the statement, saying that they “do not wish to be part of the issues besetting the Supreme Court and its personnel as our priority is to keep the courts open and to serve our people. We are not politicians.
“We do not have the luxury of publicly expressing our sentiments, unless prompted by the situation. But we are living in uncertain times, and today, we make an exception.”
They also called “for sobriety and prudence” and further called on their fellow judges to remember their oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law; to be impartial and reserve judgment until all evidence have been presented; and to be non-partisan.
Earlier, Judges Gaite-Llanderal and Cole had used the hashtag judicial independence (#judicialindependence) to express their stances to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.
Gaite-Llanderal’s cover post on March 10 sought to affirm her judicial oath, and said that “in the light of the challenges facing the judiciary, I stand steadfast to my oath and commitments, as it matters not who sits on the bench but to make sure that the wheels of justice continue to roll…. I will do what is within my authority to insulate the judiciary from partisan politics.”