SOMETHING IS HAPPENING. There is a quiet resistance taking place, a stonewalling, a pushback against presumptuous power. Folks are standing up to a bully, and it feels good.
At some point on the evening of March 10, judges all over the country started posting this statement on their social media accounts:
It is a message addressed to the Filipino people, but more directly to Court Administrator Midas Marquez, who has reportedly been staging a redux of the stunt he pulled at last week’s Supreme Court flag ceremony. He wasn’t very successful. It was supposed to be some kind of manifesto, a loud visual protest, with the Justices and employees venting their rage in red. It was tepid at best. Now Midas is trying again.
It’s said he has worked the phones via SMS, ordering the judiciary employees to again wear red on Monday, March 12. Word has it that he has even “persuaded” the head of the national judges’ association and the leaders of the SC employees unions to read statements after the flag ceremony calling for Chief Justice Sereno’s resignation. Very dramatic.
They might have been convincing, except for something veteran journalist Philip Lustre Jr. received at midnight on March 10. He reported:
KALATAS MULA SA MGA KAWANI NG HUDIKATURA. Kaninang hatinggabi, nakatanggap ako ng isang pahayag ng hindi nagpakilalang grupo ng mga empleyado sa Judiciary. Sa aking pakiwari, sila ang mga empleyadong ayaw sumunod sa iniutos ni Midas Marquez na pagsusuot ng damit kulay pula sa Lunes. Narito ang kanilang pahayag.
HUWAG ISALI ANG MGA KAWANI SA HUDIKATURA
Nananawagan kaming mga manggagagawa sa iba’t-ibang sangay ng Hudikatura sa buong bansa na kung maaari sana ay huwag na kaming isama sa itinuturing naming mapanlinlang na pakana upang lasunin ang isipan ng mga mamamayan tungkol sa usaping impeachment ng Punong Mahistrado Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
Hindi po kami sang-ayon sa mga pakana na palabasin na ang mga kawani ng Hudikatura ay tutol sa pamamalakad ng Punong Mahistrado bilang pinuno ng Hudikatura. Marami ang sumasang-ayon. Ngunit dahil sa sabwatan ng mga ibang mahistrado na idiin si Punong Mahistrado, minarapat lamang namin na manahimik at maging neutral sa nagaganap na pagkakawatak ng Hudikatura. Hindi namin nais na maipit sa pagkakakawatak-watak.
Ang nagaganap na awayan ng mga mahistrado sa Korte Suprema ay tanging away ng mga mahistrado. Sila-sila lang ang hindi nagkakasundo. Kaming mga manggagawa sa Hudikatura ay hindi nakikisali sa awayan ng mga diyos sa Padre Faura. May mga tungkulin kaming dapat gampanan. Aming minamarapat na harapin ang mga iyon sa halip na makisali sa kanilang bangayan.
Sumasang-ayon kami sa napabalitang panawagan ng Punong Mahistrado na kung maaari ay huwag makialam ang mga kawani sa Hudikatura. Sumasang-ayon rin kami sa kaniyang panawagan na harapin ng lahat ng mga kawani ang kani-kanilang tungkulin at huwag makihalo sa hindi pagkakaisa ng Korte Suprema.
Nananawagan kami na huwag kaming obligahin na magsuot ng damit na kulay pula sa Lunes. Nananawagan kami na payagan kaming magsuot ng aming uniporme na aming ikinakarangal gamitin at isuot sa tuwing papasok kami sa aming trabaho. Nananawagan rin kami na huwag ipitin o parusahan ang mga kawaning tumangging magsuot ng kulay pulang damit sa Lunes.
Nais rin naming linawin na kahit neutral ang aming paninindigan, hindi namin isinasara ang aming pag-iisip sa nagaganap sa Supreme Court. Ganap naming pinagmamasdan ito sapagkat mahal namin ang Hudikatura bilang isang institusyon. Hindi naming isinasara ang aming budhi, o konsensiya, sa anumang nangyayari at mangyayari pa sa Hudikatura. Titindig kami sa tamang panahon at ipapahayag ang aming damdamin at saloobin.
Mabuhay ang Hudikatura!
MGA KAWANI NG HUDIKATURA
That was the voice of the employees. Hours later, the judges began making their point.
“HINDI AKO MAGPAPA-BULLY”
This seemed to be an immediate response to Chief Justice Sereno, who had spent an hour on Mel Sta. Maria’s internet show, “Diskusyon with Dean Mel” earlier that day. There she extensively discussed the torment of the arbitrary process she was made to endure by the House Justice Committee, and her hope of a fair shake in the Senate.
She explained that she drew her tenacity from the fact that she was not fighting merely for herself, but for everyone, particularly judiciary officials and employees, assailed by coercive power. She insists on their right to perform their mandate free from political pressure. This is the judicial independence she is risking everything for. Obliquely citing Midas Marquez’s “wear red” campaign, Sereno said:
Kaya nga yung sinasabi yung mga pula-pula… kabaligtaran po yan ng aking policy na wag isama ang mga huwes at mga kawani sa pulitika. Nakakasira po yan ng judicial independence. Kasi ang judicial independence po ang ibig sabihin namin hindi kami maghuhusga hangga’t wala ang ebidensya. E pero pag ikaw ay pinagreresign na ng kung anu-ano…wala pa nga’ng ebidensya, pinareresign ka na? …Sakin po yayanigin nila ako ng yayanigin hanggang ako ay bibigay. Pero hindi ho akong maasahang bibigay pagka’t ang laban ko ay hindi lang para sakin kundi para sa lahat ng kinukuyog.
Students from the Ateneo College of Law were there to pick her brain. One young man asked her what should be done to combat fake news and trolls. Obviously drawing from her own experience, she replied:
Ganito ang unang-unang sabihin niyo: HINDI AKO MAGPAPA-BULLY…because I know myself and nothing that they say about me can affect my view of myself. When you are physically confronted you say, “No. You don’t get to bully me. You have no right to bully me. You step aside.”
Who is behind Midas Marquez and his villainous scheming? I remember Midas from our Supreme Court days as a quiet, somewhat vain young man, not at all the kind to stand out and lead – rather the unctuous type that gets ahead by being led. So who is leading? Perhaps that is best answered by another question. Who benefits most from getting Sereno out of the way? She is, after all, head of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal besides being head of the Judiciary. Answer that question and the familiar faces of Bongbong Marcos and other infamous bullies come to the fore. It is to them and to the Filipino people that she gave her closing message on the show. It is worth watching:
She will not give in nor give up. She will not resign. By their dignified affirmation of judicial independence, the judges and judiciary employees are opposing brazen attempts to force her to resign. This is not coerced support. This is spontaneous and volitional, the kind of backing Midas and his cohort wished they had, but don’t. All of us who stand with CJ Sereno are tired of their indecent intimidation. We staunchly say with her, “No. You don’t get to bully me. You have no right to bully me. YOU step aside.”
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. – Matthew 5:10-11