The Leaderboard: Maria Lourdes Sereno

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific. This post features Maria Lourdes Sereno, recently appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice of the Philippines.

Who is she?

Maria Lourdes Sereno is the first female chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Prior to her appointment, she served as associate justice of the Supreme Court from August 2010. She was President Benigno Aquino’s first appointee to the court. She previously served as executive director of the Asian Institute of Management from 2009 to 2010. Sereno earned an M.A. in Law from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from the University of the Philippines, where she taught law for 19 years.

Maria Lourdes Sereno, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Source: Wikimedia, used under a creative commons license.

Why is she in the news?

Maria Lourdes Sereno was sworn in August 25 as the chief justice of the Philippines. She replaces Renato Corona, who was removed from his post in May following impeachment by the Philippine Senate on corruption charges. At 52, Sereno is the second-youngest person to hold the position. She could lead the high court for the next 18 years, until the mandatory retirement age of 70.

What can we expect from her?

Given Sereno’s potentially lengthy tenure, she could have ample time to institutionalize much-needed reforms in the Philippine judiciary, which is riddled with clogged court dockets and endemic corruption among judges and governmental officials. Sereno was appointed by President Aquino as an ally in his fight against corruption and as a means to restore confidence in the judicial branch, which was severely damaged by her predecessor’s failure to declare $2.4 million in foreign currency deposits.

Sereno has said she will guard the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. When she took the oath of office, she presented a seven-point guideline laying out the values she has followed as a judge. Those include building a reputation for telling the truth, avoiding conflicts of interest, and refraining from granting favors to family members. If she continues to follow those guidelines, Sereno will provide a much-needed example for the judiciary.


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