CHIEF Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno should directly address objections raised by her colleagues in the Supreme Court against her Nov. 27 resolution that re-opened the Regional Court Administration Office in Central Visayas (RCAO-7).
“The chief justice should answer the allegations. She may be right. She may be wrong,” Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Meinrado Paredes told reporters yesterday.
Paredes was reacting to news reports about the controversy over Sereno’s resolution, which didn’t have the support of her peers.
A memorandum issued by Senior Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro said the resolution was issued without en banc approval from the Supreme Court.
De Castro said the resolution should be recalled or amended since it doesn’t reflect the objections raised by other justices against the RCAO-7 which would be headed by former Cebu judge Geraldine Faith Econg.
Econg’s appointment as RCAO-7 was questioned since it wasn’t part of her duty as head of the court’s Project Management Office.
Econg, who is presently in Singapore, was advised not to assume her functions in the RCAO-7.
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.
The Chief Justice said she will attend next week’s deliberations on her resolution.
Paredes said he welcomes the role of RCAO-7 to help speed up administrative services of the High Court.
“Supplies, salaries, and travel requests will be easier to avail of with the presence of the RCAO-7,” he said. But Paredes said the issue may be related to the opposition of the Office of the Court Administrator’s (OCA) to the creation of the RCAO-7 which is funded by the World Bank. Constancio Alimurong, president of the Philippine Association of Court Employees Cebu Province Chapter, said he welcomee the reopening of the RCAO-7 last week.
However, he expressed dismay over how RCAO-7 functioned in the past.
Among the complaints raised against the RCAO-7 were delays in the release of court employees’ allowances and the rudeness of its office staff.
“Let us give chance to the RCAO-7 since it has a new office. It’s still adjusting,” he said.
A letter supporting the reopening of the RCAO was circulated at the Cebu Palace of Justice.
Alimurong said most court employees signed it although they have complaints against the RCAO-7.
In 2008, former chief justice Reynato Puno launched the RCAO-7, a pilot project aimed at decentralizing the administrative functions of the Manila-based OCA. The RCAO-7 office is located at the Lapu-Lapu City Hall of Justice. Instead of elevating problems to the OCA, RCAO-7 may address them at the regional level. /Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol