By Alex P. Vidal
LOS ANGELES, California – Plato was right when he insisted in the Republic that there is nothing that a man can do in public affairs that a woman cannot do equally well.
The classicial Greek philosopher admitted certain respects in which a woman, simply by being a woman, is inferior in political activity to a man, but he thought that the differences between individuals are more important than the difference between the sexes. In his view, an intelligent and competent woman is superior to a man who lacks these qualities, and it is waste of human capacities not to use her in the administration of the state.
Some of us may disagree with President Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III when he appointed the most junior insider or an “outsider” to the senior justices appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but like Plato, Aquino probably was convinced that among the 50 who applied for the position vacated by impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is more superior than her male rivals in many areas outside the issue of age and experience.
Aside from allegedly rushing to campaign for the post as soon as she was nominated, and quickly setting up a Facebook account named “Why Justice Sereno should be appointed as Chief Justice” and for allegedly lying in her biodata which was posted in the Supreme Court’s website that “she was co-counsel with Justice Florentino Feliciano” in the Fraport case before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, according to former Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao, there are no major issues that would weigh down Sereno’s ascension as Chief Justice. Sereno is not among the nine counsels representing the government in the Centre’s records, insisted Tiglao. “There weren’t “co-counsels” in that case. The truth is that she was merely the personal legal researcher and documentation lawyer of the 77-year-old Feliciano, and not of the government,” Tiglao wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 30, 2012.
Sereno shouldn’t be faulted on issue that she outdid Hacienda Luisita’s lawyers in arguing for P10-billion compensation for the President’s clan. Those opposed to Sereno’s appointment should have made their assignment when the Judicial Bar Council (JBC) was still deliberating on the choice for the next Chief Justice, not now that she has taken her oath of office before the President in Malacanang.
Anything negative her critics will say post her appointment will be dismissed as sourgraping after a much ballyhooed report that nine of the 13 Supreme Court associate justices boycotted the swearing in of their unwanted Chief.
We understand the consternation of the macho men, the senior justices and other “more colorful” candidates for the post who possess Ph.D. in law from Harvard and postdoctoral degrees, but the President’s choice is always final.
The principle of male dominance in the family and the community is always based on the Western culture that originated in a patriarchal type of society. Institute for Philosophical Research Director Mortimer Adler once emphasized that the discussion of the role of women in ancient writings usually reflects this patriarchal setting, but there are notable exemptions. Even in ancient times, he explained, some thinkers came to conclusions about the status of women that clashed with the prevailing order.
I have no problem with women as leaders; I have no problem with Sereno as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Her biodata says Sereno was born in July 2, 1960 in Manila to a father native to Siasi, Sulu, and to mother who served as a public school teacher. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1980, and her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law, graduating as class valedictorian in 1984. She also earned a Master of Laws from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993.
At the time of her appointment, Sereno was Executive Director of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center. She was also the President of Accesslaw Inc., had taught at University of the Philippines College of Law for 19 years, and has served as a consultant for the United Nations, World Bank, and US Agency for International Development.
With her sparkling credentials, I can say that it is a waste of human capacities not to use Sereno in the administration of the state.