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CJ loses political ground

While Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s poor showing at periodic surveys on public approval and trust, her poor numbers are very significant as she faces a likely impeachment trial.
The Chief Justice may have the disadvantage of being the only non-politician among top government officials but the public has the higest expectations on the judiciary since its performance always has a direct impact on Filipinos over the dispensation of justice.
The team of Sereno had resorted to blaming her critics for the poor survey showing of the Chief Justice, saying that the smear drive has caused the decline in her ratings.
In the December 2017 Pulse Asia poll, Sereno got the highest numbers in disapproval and distrust ratings of 26 percent and 33 percent respectively.
Only 31 percent of respondents approve of Sereno’s performance, while 40 percent were undecided.
Very notable in the poll was the stark contrast in the numbers of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Sereno amid the impeachment hearing, which was among the news highlights during the survey period conducted last December.
Alvarez and Sereno had the most drastic changes in performance and trust ratings between September and December 2017 but in opposing directions.
Approval for the Speaker’s quarterly performance becomes more pronounced during this period climbing nine percentage points but for Sereno, disapproval for her performance becomes more pronounced in Metro Manila.
Sereno’s camp attributed the poor ratings of the Chief Justice on a heightened “vilification campaign” which it expects to worsen in time for the resumption of the House impeachment hearing on January 15.
Her legal team even picked on Supreme Court justices who agreed to testify in the hearings claiming that it was part of the theatrics to sway public sentiment in favor of Sereno’s impeachment.
Sereno’s backers said the testimonies of the justices were not enough to prove that the Chief Justice committed an impeachable offense and that Sereno’s detractors are banking on the presence of the 10 justices in the House hearing as part of a “psywar campaign” to condition the mind of the public and make it appear that the Chief Justice is losing support among SC justices.
Her lawyers insisted that the SC justices who testified in the House hearings did not say anything against the Chief Justice.
Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam have appeared before the House justice committee hearings while invitations have been sent to Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who declined, and Associate Justices Samuel Martires and Mariano Del Castillo who agreed to testify.
The public sentiment, however, is all geared toward what Rody stands for which is cleaning up government of irregular acts and for transparency of public officials, the reason for his trust and performance ratings staying above 80 percent.
Thus far, Sereno has failed public expectations due to her refusal to attend the House hearings.
The target of her team is to fast-track the House proceedings for Sereno to face the Senate impeachment court where yellow allies abound.
Sereno’s team said if there is a strong case against the Chief Justice, it should have long been elevated to the Senate for trial.
The impeachment complaint, filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, alleged that Sereno failed to report or include in her SALN the earnings she made when she represented the Philippine International Airport Terminals Co. in the controversial case over the alleged irregularity in the construction of Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Sereno is also accused of purchasing a brand-new 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser worth P5.1 million using public funds.
Sereno should consider that the impeachment process is a political proceeding where public opinion counts a lot which the survey numbers on her show performance and non-performance on which she is far from securing positive views.

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