CHIEF JUSTICE Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno — who has previously been challenged by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to resign alongside himself and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales amid allegations of corruption — said the Supreme Court (SC) has been pursuing greater transparency since 2012.
Ms. Sereno, who was appointed to the highest judicial post in August 2012, made the statement following Mr. Duterte’s call on Monday, Dec. 4, for improving transparency among the three branches of government that would allow public access to relevant information about their affairs.
SC Spokesperson Theodore O. Te, reading Ms. Sereno’s comment in part, said: “The President, in a speech made on 4 December 2017, expressed the hope that both the legislative and judicial branches of government would join (the executive branch) in strengthening our democratic institutions by following suit and instituting measures that would allow unfettered public access to relevant information about their affairs.”
Ms. Sereno pointed out that “even without a Freedom of Information Law, the judiciary has, in fact, done this starting from May 2012.”
• The Summaries of the Statement of Assets,Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of the Supreme Court Justices starting 2014;
• All relevant fiscal and financial data including disbursements from the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and Annual Procurement Plans;
• Livestreaming of the audio of the oral arguments of the Supreme Court, the posting of the relevant pleadings and legal documents related to the particular cases being heard, and the audio recordings of the oral arguments;
• Updates on relevant and current developments also done through the Supreme Court Public Information Office (PIO) twitter page;
• Information about the bar examinations and the release of the bar results every year starting from 2013; and
• New rules and procedures and guidelines to judges.
“Included in the measures of transparency are the weekly live press briefings on Tuesdays given by the Supreme Court Chief Public Information Officer after each session of the Court En Banc and also occasional press briefings on matters of public concern,” Ms. Sereno said.
“The Court is also deliberating on a draft Rule on Access to Information About the Supreme Court pursuant to its power to promulgate rules and its power to supervise the lower courts (A.M. No. 17-09-08-SC),” she added. — Andrea Louise E. San Juan