MEDIA RELEASE / 28 August 2012 / Reference: Mr Sonny Africa (IBON executive director) / IBON cautions newly appointed Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno against allowing the Supreme Court to be used to give further momentum to ongoing efforts for Charter Change (Cha-cha).
The legislative branch, through House Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, has already expressed support to review important nationalist provisions of the 1987 Constitution. IBON hopes that the new chief justice will acknowledge recent developments in the global economy, and expresses concern that her background of being inclined to “free market” policies of globalization may manifest in deciding on the fate of Cha-cha.
It has been reported that CJ Sereno chaired the Estrada-era Steering Committee of the Preparatory Commission on Constitutional Reform which proposed charter change. She was legal counsel of the World Trade Organization (WTO) appellate body secretariat. Sereno was also a consultant of the pro-globalization World Bank and USAID albeit for judicial reforms rather than economic concerns.
It would also be more favorable if her distinguished background in mainstream business law and economics were tempered by a record of considering the social context of policies. Business and economics are unfortunately seen in the mainstream as about creating the conditions for profit-seeking rather than social development.
The Executive and Legislative branches of government remain fully in support of globalization policies despite the free market-driven global crisis since 2008 and rising protectionism worldwide. According to the research group, it would be unfortunate if the Judiciary is likewise completely reduced to supporting these policies at the expense of long-term Philippine economic development.
The nationalist economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution provide legal basis to assert people’s economic rights. The Supreme Court can already invoke these provisions to tilt the justice system in favor of poor Filipinos versus elite domestic and foreign interests. In principle, the court can be used to counterbalance the formidable resources and influence of the latter, said IBON.
Remedying corruption, political pressures and glacial processes are important, the research group noted. But judicial reforms with far-reaching benefits for livelihood will come from using the court system to enforce and defend the economic, social and cultural rights of the people. (end)
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.