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10 of 22 candidates for CJ post lay down platforms of leadership

For the first time since being nominated for the chief justice post, 10 of the 22 aspirants appeared in public to lay down their plans for the judiciary in case they get picked to replace ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona. At a Pasay City forum organized by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the candidates were each given an opportunity to explain their judicial philosophy and reform plan. Organizers of the event said the remaining candidates who failed to make it to the forum had previous engagements. The forum speeches were started off by Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista. In her speech, Sereno said the public can expect more transparency in how the Supreme Court spends it funds. "If appointed, I will disclose the state of the funds of the High Court," said Sereno, who is one of six Supreme Court justices aiming for country's top-judge post. Last month, the Supreme Court – after the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona – decided to give the public access to its financial reports, as well as the Commission on Audit report on the high court. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio at the time acknowledged that the release of the financial reports was prompted by the public’s clamor for more transparency in the wake of the Corona impeachment trial. In her speech, Sereno said she considered "inspiring every member of the judiciary" as her "first duty." The media-recluse associate justice stressed her independence as a member of the judiciary. "I have no political affiliation to bank on... I am not a media figure," Sereno said. Sereno is one of President Benigno Aquino III's three appointees to the Supreme Court. The two others are Associate Justices Bienvenido Reyes and Estela Perlas-Bernabe. Sereno was a known dissenter in SC resolutions related to the four-month impeachment trial of Corona. Sereno was a dissenter when the high court stopped the Senate impeachment trial from opening Corona's dollar accounts with the Philippine Savings Bank. She also wrote a "partly" dissenting opinion when the high court ruled to give prosecutors in the impeachment court limited access to court documents. She branded the move as a "censure and curtailment" of a justice's constitutional right to explain her opinion. During her IBP forum speech, Sereno vowed to keep on dissenting "if there's a concerted effort to deny the obvious truth." Backlog In his speech, PCGG's Bautista emphasized that the judicial system continues to be plagued by problems of corruption and congestion of unresolved cases, as well as problems in competence and credibility. He said the judiciary should "lead by example" and solve the case backlogs in the courts. He said this can be remedied with the help of computerized management system, which had already been jump-started at the Court of Appeals and the Quezon City Regional Trial court. He also criticized the "copy-paste" system he observes in the writing of court decisions. He urged that the length of court resolutions be further trimmed to help solve backlogs. Among the other candidates scheduled to deliver their speeches are Associate Justice Roberto Abad and Commission on Elections commissioner Rene Sarmiento. The forum was held four days before the Judicial and Bar Council starts its public interviews of the 22 candidates. Corona was ousted as chief justice for not declaring his P200-million accounts (in peso and dollar deposits) in several banks. — LBG, GMA News