Chief justice’s order under fire by peers

Posted on December 6, 2012

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A Nov. 27 resolution issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to reopen the Regional Court Administration Office (RCAO) in Cebu was questioned by a senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court yesterday.

In a memorandum to Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro said the resolution should be recalled or amended since it doesn’t reflect the objections raised by other justices against the RCAO.

De Castro said Sereno’s resolution to re-open the RCAO in Cebu was issued without en banc approval from the Supreme Court last Nov. 27.

They also denied that Sereno was authorized to appoint former Cebu judge Geraldine Faith Econg as acting chief of the RCAO.

“The head of the Project Management Office (Judge Geraldine Faith Econg) cannot be in charge of RCAO since it is not part of her duty. At best, the high court justices said she can participate in a study to determine whether to reopen RCAO or not,” de Castro said.

“I regret that I have to write this Memorandum in connection with Resolution in A.M. No. 12-11-9-SC supposedly adopted by the Court en banc on Nov. 27, 2012…With due respect to the Chief Justice, to my recollection, the Resolution does not reflect the Court’s deliberation and the consensus of the Justices opposing the reopening of RCAO-7,” de Castro said.

In her memorandum dated Dec. 3, 2012, De Castro took note of the objections raised by the high court justices. IT said the Chief Justice has no authority to create the Judiciary Decentralized Office which, under the Administrative Order, shall take full responsibility over the RCAO in Region 7, which was reopened without court en banc approval on Nov. 27, 2012;

The AO of the Chief Justice cannot deprive the high court of its constitutional duty to exercise administrative supervision over all courts and their personnel and the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) of its statutory duty under Presidential Decree 828 to assist the Supreme Court in the exercise of said power of administrative supervision.

The RCAO cannot be reopened without a pilot study. The court took note that when it was launched in 2008, it resulted in protests among judges and court personnel.

It said th e head of the Project Management Office (Judge Econg) cannot be in charge of RCAO since it is not part of her duty. At best, she can participate in a study to determine whether to reopen RCAO or not.

The high court was supposed to discuss the Nov. 27 resolution on Dec. 4 during its full court deliberation. But Sereno called in sick and designated Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as acting chief justice to act on her stead until she got back to work.

Sereno, in a separate letter to the high court, through her Judicial Staff head lawyer Ma. Teresa B. Sibulo assured that she will attend next week’s deliberation to discuss the Nov. 27 resolution before she flies to the US Tuesday evening. /Inquirer

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