[PHOTO AT LEFT - With Chief Justice Renato Corona looking on, President Aquino swears in his first appointee to the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, at Malacañang yesterday.]

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2010 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - President Aquino administered yesterday the oath of office of his first appointee to the 15-man Supreme Court (SC), expressing optimism that the much-needed reform in the judiciary would speed up.

In a chance interview at Rizal Hall in Malacañang, Mr. Aquino acknowledged that while SC Justice Ma. Lourdes Aranal-Sereno may have been a schoolmate at the Ateneo, it was her “awe-inspiring” credentials that compelled him to appoint her.

“We’re both Economics majors but to be honest, I don’t really recall having met her or debated with her, or being in the same class with her,” he said.

Sereno was Aquino’s senior at the Ateneo de Manila University. She graduated in 1980, while the President left in 1981. She was executive director of the Asian Institute of Management’s Policy Center prior to her appointment.

The 50-year-old Sereno obtained her law degree from the University of the Philippines’ College of Law, cum laude in 1984, and has a master of laws degree from the University of Michigan Law School (1993).

She was co-counsel in the government’s winning arbitration case involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 before the International Chamber of Commerce-International Court of Arbitration in Singapore.

The President appointed her to the high tribunal on Aug. 13, choosing her over five other nominees for the post vacated by Justice Renato Corona when former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promoted him to chief justice on May 17.

Aside from Sereno, the Judicial and Bar Council had nominated former UP law dean Raul Pangalangan; Court of Appeals Associate Justices Noel Tijam, Hakim Abdulwahid, and Japar Dimaampao; and Commission on Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

The new SC justice vowed to “serve her fellow Filipinos with integrity and conviction, and hold the ideal of justice that refutes the abuse of strength and instead labors to succor the weak.”

Sereno also promised to adopt “justice that does not limit itself to any one person or group of individuals, but instead encompasses the entire nation and acts for the sake of all Filipinos; justice that may serve as one of several foundations for rebuilding institutions.”

“I pledge to undertake my work fully acknowledging that it is in both foundation and essence a commitment of service to the Filipino people. It is an honor to be granted this responsibility, and I will strive to fulfill it to the utmost of my ability,” she said.

“Now that she’s there I think the reforms that the judiciary needs would be implemented,” the President said.


Briefer on the appointment of Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno to the Supreme Court Prepared by the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson August 13, 2010

Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno was born on July 2, 1960 in Manila. She graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in A.B. Economics in 1980. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws (Cum Laude, Class Valedictorian) from the University of the Philippines College of Law (1984). She has a Master of Laws from the University of Michigan Law School (1993).

A Faculty Member of the Philippine Judicial Academy since 2000, she has taught Civil Law, Negotiable Instruments Law, and International Trade Law. She was Faculty at the Hague Academy of International Law, Cambodia in November 2004. She is currently Executive Director of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center.

She was a TOWNS (Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service) Awardee for Law in 1998. She was co-counsel with Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, of the Fraport Case before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, D.C. and the PIATCO Case before the International Chamber of Commerce-International Court of Arbitration, Singapore. Both cases were resolved in favor of the Republic of the Philippines.

She was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Benigno S. Aquino III on August 13, 2010. She is his first appointment to the Supreme Court.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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