Sereno impeachment sends ‘chilling effect’ on judiciary – lay group

Sereno impeachment sends ‘chilling effect’ on judiciary – lay group

Supreme Court. CBCPNews

MANILA— The country’s largest lay organization said the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is sending ‘chilling effect’ to the entire judiciary.

The Council of the Laity of the Philippines, an umbrella group of around 100 lay organizations theoughout the countey, viewed the case negatively because, according to them, the judiciary should remain independent.

“We fear that this consecutive attack against the head of the judiciary might create an unintended chilling effect on present and future justices that will eventually weaken the court,” the group said in a statement signed by its president, Zenaida Capistrano.

The organization fears over its possible effects not only to the members of the Supreme Court but also the entire judiciary considering that Sereno replaced the late chief justice Renato Corona who was impeached in 2012.

“Because its target is an important public official, such proceedings has a very disruptive effect and must, therefore, be resorted to sparingly and only in extreme situations where the grounds relied upon are clear and compelling,” it said.

Without going into the merits of the impeachment case, the group then expressed support for Sereno, stressing the “unprecedented reforms in the judiciary” under her watch in ensuring transparency and accountability in the High Court.

“Our knowledge of how the Chief Justice conducts herself gives us reason to believe that she is a person of integrity unsullied by any hint of corruption,” it said.

“Her well-written opinions for the High Court are masterful and demonstrate an uncommon probity, impartiality, and intellectual acumen worthy of her high position,” the group added. CBCPNews