Now, even junior justices absent at SC flag rites

Posted at 09/24/12 9:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno found herself by her lonesome in the Supreme Court's (SC) regular flag raising ceremony on Monday morning.

Even the crowd was noticeably dwindling by the week, compared to the 'Black Monday' attendance during the impeachment trial of her predecessor, Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The ceremony started late. Sereno was later joined by Associate Justice Jose Perez. Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor (Ret.) Justice Adolfo Azcuna, and Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) member (Ret.) Justice Regino Hermosisima, Jr.

By far, this was the most dismal attendance by the court en banc since Sereno's appointment, seen by many as an outspoken protest to the assumption to the highest judicial post of one of the most junior justices and regarded by some as an 'outsider' even during her two-year stint as Associate Justice.

With a term spanning 18 years, the second longest in the history of the high court, Sereno has doused the hopes of the 13 other sitting justices to become Chief Justice someday.

In spite of the uninspired attendance, Sereno had reason to smile as a small group of students from St. Scholastica Manila's Communication Society came to express their support for her and the high court.

A representative from the group was allowed to speak before the gathered crowd.

In a two-page statement, the Communication Society urged the country to unite and rally behind the new Chief Justice and the entire Supreme Court.

"Today, with a new leadership in the Supreme Court after democratic processes have been observed, our country is privileged to have its first female Chief Justice, Hon. Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno... Let us remember that the Supreme Court is the last bastion of justice and freedom," the group said.

The group said "lessons of the past" should be remembered.

"Let us do our part and work and pray for a better future," their statement read.