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Sereno warns youth vs ‘violence,’ ‘coarse language’

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno attends Mass at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice church in UP Diliman upon the invitation of youth groups supporting her. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Thursday warned the youth against a future of “violence” and “coarse language” as she dedicated to the youth her refusal to heed calls made by President Duterte’s allies for her to step down instead of enduring an impeachment process in Congress.

Speaking before law students from several Manila universities, Sereno said she owed it to the youth to stay in her post and defend herself.

“Since I was appointed chief justice, I did all my responsibilities with honesty and with no malice,” Sereno said at a packed auditorium at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

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“Now if I am being removed because of agenda, hate, malice or whatever reason, even if I’m not committing any wrongdoing, what message does that leave to the youth?” she added.

 

Youth support

Throughout her speech in the forum organized by Youth For CJ, a youth-led organization supporting Sereno, the chief justice repeatedly referred to the youth as the hope of the nation.

Five years after assuming the high court’s top post, Sereno now faces an impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, who had accused Sereno of failing to declare her real wealth, buying a luxury car with government funds and usurping the Supreme Court’s en banc power.

Associate Justice Teresita de Castro on Wednesday testified at the House justice committee that Sereno issued an order in November 2012 reviving a judicial office in Central Visayas that did not reflect the consensus of the full court. Sereno’s spokesperson said she did not arbitrarily issue the order.

Weighing in on the issue, Vice President Leni Robredo said she hoped that “in the unfolding processes, it would end up strengthening the institutions and not dissolve it or weaken it.”

 

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Fight for good

In her speech, Sereno said she must make a stand “because this is really a fight for what is good.”

“I am sure that young people would not want a future that they see nothing but violence, coarse language, foul charges, baseless accusations and lies upon lies,” she said.

Amid allegations of an extravagant lifestyle, Sereno said she, her husband and their family had vowed to live modestly.

She said she felt like she was “in the middle of a perfect storm.”

“It is true that in the eye of the storm, there is peace,” she said.

Several groups assembled and sponsored Mass at the UP’s Parish of the Holy Sacrifice to pray for Sereno.

Historic chance

The groups included Every Woman, Prayer Battalion for Truth and Justice, The Coordinating Group, Youth Resist, Manindigan Na and Alyansa ng Samahang Pantao.

Sereno expressed gratitude to them for their support.

She said the accusations against her became an opportunity to raise the level of discourse on accountability, democracy and judicial independence.

“We never had this historic chance, a unique chance that we can talk of really fundamental things,” she said.

“This is not just my story, but it is a story of reforms in the judiciary,” she said. “Are these trumped-up lies a way of stopping these reforms?”  —WITH A REPORT FROM  VINCE F. NONATO

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