BBC’s Stephen Sackur Interviews Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (Part 2)

4E32BFB5-1F67-4481-B128-126905DD422BLONDON, Great Britain (The Adobo Chronicles, Berlin Bureau) – Ousted Philippine Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is taking her case to the news media, making the rounds of television shows both in the Philippines and abroad.

She was interviewed by BBC’s Stephen Sackur on the latter’s ‘Hard Talk’ program.

While the interview is still scheduled to be aired at an undisclosed date, The Adobo Chronicles was able to obtain a copy of the broadcast’s transcript, thanks to our man in London, Crispulo Bacud Tappa.

HERE’S PART 2 OF THAT INTERVIEW: (For Part 1, read it HERE)

SACKUR: What were you thinking when you accepted the position of Chief Justice, Madam Sereno?

SERENO: I was bound by a sense of gratitude to my patron. My allegiance was to him to whom I owed my position.  And that, I am sure, is the same position of any of my co-equals in the judiciary. That’s a culture developed over the years.

SACKUR: Meaning, there is no such thing as judicial independence in your country?

SERENO:  True. How could there be judicial independence when it is  the only co-equal branch where its members get appointed by the head of the Executive Branch. The members of the other two branches get elected. So, we serve to please the powers that be. 

SACKUR: Given a choice, would you rather go through impeachment or quo warranto proceedings?

SERENO: My choice was very clear from the very beginning. I took the pains to telegraph my choice as evidenced by my choice of the color of my clothes….peach. It was a sartorial disaster though,  as nobody took the clue.

SACKUR:  You could have deferred to  your more senior colleagues in the Supreme Court to be the chief and you could have spared yourself from this travesty of your country’s judicial system.

SERENO: Travesty, my foot!

‎Yes, I could have done that, but I was in a hurry for promotion. I could not imagine myself growing old following the order of a graying line down the road before I could become a Chief.

SACKUR: So they say, as you grow old, you acquire wisdom and that complements integrity and probity.

SERENO: (Interjects) Mr. Sackur, this is the beauty of a democracy in the Philippines. Anybody can become President. We had an actor-President, who didn’t play-act his term very well, a widow-President who was over-powered by power itself,  an orphaned-President who didn’t outgrow his childhood, a general-President who thinks his opinion still matters up to this day, a diminutive-President who tried to stand taller than what she really is, and recently, a mass murderer-President  with 16M million minions voting him into power. 

SACKUR: What happens now after you were ousted as Chief Justice?

SERENO: On hindsight, I already lost my career as a lawyer, and I may choose to be a politician  believing that I can short-circuit my way to the Presidency. You just need to be visible. Keep the pace going 24/7 on print, internet, facebook,  radio, and tv, and you are made. My face and name will stick to the minds of the non-thinking voters who, by the way,  we want to remain poor as it is easier to manipulte them for our vested political ends. Name-recall, is what we call it.

SACKUR: Are you confirming this that all these brouhaha is meant to fuel your ambition for the Presidency?

SERENO: True. (without batting an eyelash). That’s the long and short of it, Mr. Sackur. In the Philippines, when you have the support of the oligarchs, the prelate, and a bunch of bloggers in our payroll, you can do anything you want. But again, if that happens, I would be obliged to serve the interest of the oligarchs and the  church leaders who support me. Our brand of politics promotes a vicious cycle of corruption.

SACKUR: Oh, I see now. You said that you are a Christian and not a Catholic. So, how do you reconcile this. I see these pictures in newspapers showing you kneeling on pews in churches, being prayed over, surrounded by nuns and priests. What’s the point?

SERENO: That’s a yellow strategy, Mr Sackur. We are a forgiving people  and our people easily forget that they have been transgressed. Many of our politicians who have been jailed were pardoned and got reelected. And when you get re-elected, the condonation rule applies. Your crime is extinguished. Estrada, Arroyo, and many others have benefitted from this forgiving character of our people. 

But of course, the oligarchs, too, have a very important role to play in national politics. They are the real stakeholders. The preservation of their business is first and foremost their concern. I took to task preserving the estate of my patron and this lead me to where I am now, sadly.

SACKUR: But you don’t seem sad at all, Madam Sereno. I have seen your pictures smiling even on the day you were ousted. Isn’t that a psychological aberration?

SERENO: I choose not to answer that Mr Sackur. I invoke my right to self-incrimination.

SACKUR: I want to ask you this last question as we wind up, Madam Sereno……

SERENO: (Butts In) 

Am I a DEMOCRAT? 

(End of interview)

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