New Philippine chief justice cautioned against becoming 'Aquino's puppet'

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Militant groups of the Philippines today criticised the decision of President Benigno Aquino III in choosing Maria Lourdes Sereno as the new Chief Justice.

In a Radyo Inquirer 990 AM report, Kilusang Mayo Uno, through its chairperson Elmer Labog, said having Sereno as Chief Justice is meant to protect the interests of the president's family in the Hacienda Luisita case.

Sereno, he explained, is the first appointee of Aquino in the high court who wrote a dissenting opinion regarding the decision to distribute the lands to Hacienda Luisita farmers.

Because of this, Labog added, it can be said the decision to have Sereno in the Supreme Court is self-serving for the president. He said it is meant to reverse the decision on Hacienda Luisita and to increase the compensation meant for the Cojuangco clan.

The group also gave the warning that Sereno will become a puppet of Aquino regarding policies that will counter the interests of labourers.

Because of this, Labog said it is now becoming clear the real mission of Aquino to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona is not to hold former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accountable for the cases lodged against her but for the Cojuangco clan to maintain its control of Hacienda Luisita.

In a related development, a militant youth group challenged the new Chief Justice to start reforming the high court by being an independent body.

Anakbayan, through its National Capital Region Secretary Dianne Solmayor, said Serendo must now prove that she is not like others who can twist the arms of the law.

She said Sereno should prove that the Supreme Court under her won't be called "Aquino Supreme Court." She cautioned her not to be like her predecessor, Corona, whose reign was described "Arroyo Supreme Court."

Solmayor said they will be on guard regarding cases related to laborers, farmers and urban poor, particularly the Hacienda Luisita case, which will be a test for Sereno.

Instead of following Aquino's style, Anakbayan advised Sereno to follow the example made by the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who selflessly and wholeheartedly serve the Filipino people.

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