MANILA -- Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno urged personnel in the judiciary to preserve the institution's independence and exercise diligence in the performance of their duties.

"A good and effective judiciary is only as strong and independent as the belief and faith of the people in it," Sereno said in her keynote address during the 8th International Conference on the Training of the Judiciary in Taguig City on Sunday.

The country's top magistrate also stressed that the judiciary must be wise and mature enough to uphold delicate balance to "properly evaluate conflicting positions and competing interests".

Sereno urged participants “not to lose sight of the reason behind our common objective of improving efficiency and accuracy in our judicial processes -- the protection of the rule of law and the human rights of our people.”

“Thus, as we remain pro-active proponents of the advancement of the quality of judicial education, we likewise must remain mindful that we are also doing so in order to have a direct impact on the protection of the life, liberty and security of ordinary people,” Sereno said.

The conference, organized by the International Organization for Judicial Training (IOJT), was attended by justices, judges, judicial educators, court personnel and lawyers from 28 participating countries.

“Core values that uphold the dignity of the human being are what make for the rule of law, and it is the rule of law that will allow human society to continue in a spirit of solidarity,” Sereno told the participants.

Sereno said it was important for the judiciary to remain independent from improper outside influence, as she warned against the “resurgence of political forces threatening and harassing the independence of the judiciary.”

“I have often said that a judicial system is only as strong and independent as the belief and faith of the people in it,” she said.

In troubled times in the past, Sereno noted how the courts lent credibility to certain rulers by pronouncing their acts as legal.

“Not because the kings did not have the physical force to impose their will, but rather, that kings wanted their acts to have the force of moral legitimacy, a legitimacy that many times was perceived to come from courts of law,” she pointed out.
“It indicates to a certain extent, that the judiciary in those parts of the world, and in those times in history, had a measure of credibility that politicians wanted to appropriate, for whatever political purpose they deemed important,” Sereno said.

“The judiciary however, then and now, while needing to discharge its role in specific times and contexts, can only be a judiciary worthy of its name if its pronouncements are undergirded by core values that are rooted in its commitment to the dignity of the human being and the respect that such dignity commands,” she added.

Last month, Sereno urged trial court judges to stay focused on their work and not get sidetracked by the political noise generated by the impeachment complaint against her.

She said members of the judiciary should stay true to their oaths and stay out of politics and do their jobs of dispensing justice to the best of their ability.

The Chief Justice has a pending impeachment complaint in Congress. She is accused of culpable violation of the Constitution, corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust.

The House Committee on Justice has already voted to declare that there was sufficient ground to proceed with the impeachment proceedings filed by lawyer Larry Gadon.

Gadon, in his impeachment complaint, alleged that Sereno failed to report or include in her SALN the earnings she made when she represented the Philippine International Airport Terminals Co. in the controversial case over the alleged irregularity in the construction of Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Sereno is also accused of purchasing a brand-new 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser worth PHP5.1 million using public funds. (with Paolo Cruz-OJT/ PNA)