Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Malacañang on all-out damage control over public perception of Sereno bias for Hacienda Luisita interests

Amid widespread cynicism among Filipinos over the ability -- or intentions -- of newly-appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice to run an independent judiciary, Malacañang was recently compelled to issue a statement insisting that Sereno is "not a puppet"...
Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said Sereno's past decisions in the High Court have showed that she has not been beholden to anyone.

Valte also encouraged Sereno's critics to take a look at her SC rulings to dispel their concerns of an alleged biased Chief Justice.

''If we will make such conclusion, let us first check the decisions penned by Chief Justice Sereno since she was appointed as member of the Supreme Court and we can see that she has displayed her independence,'' Valte said in Filipino over government radio.

Philippine President Benigno Simeon "BS" Aquino III also chimed in to say what under most normal circumstances need not be said to most professional managers and bureacrats...

President Aquino urged newly appointed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to make fair decisions as a way to restore the public's confidence in the judiciary.

Aquino made the statement during the commemoration of the National Heroes Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Much of the dismay expressed by political observers over Sereno's appointment to the office of the Chief Justice stems from her public stand on the fate of the vast Hacienda Luisita estate owned by the President's in-laws.

Back in April of this year, the Supreme Court (SC) voted 8 to 6 to value Hacienda Luisita on the basis of a 1989 assessment of Php40,000 per hectare or a total Php200 mllion compensation to the owners of the entire property when it is subject to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Newly-appointed Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno was at the time among the six justices who voted to uphold a counter-proposal she herself put forth to base the value of the property on current fair market value as of January 2006. Under Sereno’s proposal that would make Hacienda Luisita worth Php10 billion — enough money to save the Cojuangcos’ tony lifestyles.

Now that Sereno is Chief Justice, some groups have raised the possibility that she may reverse the SC’s late-2011 rulings on the subjection of Hacienda Luisita to the CARP and, in the process, possibly void the April 2012 ruling on its valuation.

[NB: Parts of this report lifted from Get Real Post. Photo courtesy Yahoo News.]

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