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Chief Justice bows out of office: No regrets

“I have faithfully served the people,” Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said in a speech during his last flag-raising ceremony at the Supreme Court on Monday, four days before he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on Oct. 18.

Chief Justice bows out of office: No regrets
LAST CEREMONY. Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin (middle) attends Monday his last flag-raising ceremony at the Supreme Court, four days before he officially retires on Friday. Bersamin, from Abra and the 25th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, graduated from the University of the East College of Law in 1973, placed 9th in the 1973 bar exams with an average of 86.3 percent. Norman Cruz
As he bows out on Friday after 30 years in the judiciary serving in various capacities, including his 11-month stint as Chief Justice, Bersamin urged the Supreme Court’s officials and employees to remain loyal to the Constitution and to the rule of law.

“As that moment draws near, I experience a deep sense of personal satisfaction, no regrets,” Bersamin said and thanked his colleagues and the court employees for their support.

Bersamin said he had “done everything within the bounds of the law” to make his office accessible.

“Between this morning and my actual retirement on the 17th, I shall be in my office daily completing all the tasks that remain to be accomplished. All I ask as I exit from the service in the judiciary is just as forthright as that, nothing more,” he said.

“Continue doing your assigned tasks and work, but please be constant in your loyalty to the judiciary as our institution and be steadfast in your fealty to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and to the rule of law.”

A portion of Padre Faura Street in Manila, where the high court is located, was closed to traffic early Monday morning as Bersamin was greeted with arrival honors before the flag-raising ceremony.

All the high court justices were present except for Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr., one of the four incumbent magistrates aspiring to succeed Bersamin. The others were Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Andres Reyes Jr., who were automatically nominated for the judiciary’s top post.

“I have always endeavored to be true to my oath of office and have always discharged my duties and responsibilities in the best lights that God has endowed me with,” Bersamin said.

“Do I now have a better way of putting it except to say that I have faithfully served the people, conscientiously discharged my office, and dutifully fulfilled their trust.”

Last week, Bersamin slammed the “gods of Padre Faura” tag for the high court magistrates, saying the guided tours in a judiciary memorabilia hall was put up through his initiative and was aimed at “demystify the court.”

“Oftentimes, because of our vision for the Supreme Court, we’ve been tagged as gods of Padre Faura. That’s not good, as if we are carrying the 10 commandments.”

Bersamin said he wanted the “image of the justices of the high court as an institution be respected, as the individual justices are all human and ordinary.”

Nonetheless, Bersamin said he could not blame the people from forming such opinion of the magistrates and recalled that when he was still a regional trial court judge, he could not just approach the high court justices because they were very busy. 

READ: Bersamin will not endorse successor

Topics: Lucas Bersamin , Supreme Court , Jose Reyes Jr. , Diosdado Peralta , Estela Perlas-Bernabe
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