MANILA – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has asked newly appointed Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to release the results of the psychological tests on the nominees for the highest judicial position.

Santiago noted Sereno has been the subject of derogatory remarks about her official conduct, and the senator believed that these came from Sereno’s “enemies within the SC (Supreme Court).”

“I think that all of this is very destructive to the judiciary as an institution, so as much as possible, I think she should take effort to have the JBC, (of) which she is now the chair, release the results of the psychiatric tests of the applicants,” Santiago said.

However, Senator Edgardo Angara frowned on the issue of psychological tests and the standard on which the tests are based.

“Who judges whether your psychological test is low or below the sanity level? Who decides whether it is up to the standard or not?” asked Angara, a veteran lawyer.

In Sereno’s case, Angara thought that the issue would be on her temperament.

“Temperament is important, and what I’m saying is that there might be no benchmark on what is the acceptable psychiatric threshold,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, Santiago recommended that Sereno make a categorical statement on reports that she has not included in her SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth) the compensation she received when she took part in the litigation of the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco) case.

The senator said transparency on the issue would help the new Chief Justice in ensuring integrity of the Supreme Court under her 18-year watch.

Santiago warned that Sereno might become the subject of more criticisms following the “subtle messages” sent by senior SC justices who reportedly snubbed her oath-taking ceremonies and a luncheon prepared in her honor.

“After the moment of victory, there is always the reality that the SC justices, particularly the seniors, are extremely unhappy over the fact that she jumped the cue… They look on it like any innovation as a serious disturbance of the present order,” Santiago said.

Although the senator recognizes the President’s power to appoint the SC chief, she foresees a “divided court” if other justices do not support Sereno’s leadership.

In a related development, the SC released last August 29 the SALN of all the justices.

Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo was the wealthiest among the SC’s 14 magistrates in 2011. Del Castillo had a declared net worth of P108,904,519.37.

Newly appointed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno came in 10th on the list with a net worth of P18,029,575.51.

Sereno’s net worth increased by about P270,000 relative to her 2010 SALN, which she had earlier released in a summarized form. Sereno was appointed to the high court in 2010.

At the bottom of the list was Associate Justice Arturo Brion, who has the lowest net worth among the 14 magistrates with P1,498,509.

The net worth of the rest of the SC justices for 2011 are as follows: Antonio Carpio – P79,895,025.57; Bienvenido Reyes – P75,146,199; Estela Perlas-Bernabe – P67,101,327;  Roberto Abad – P42,100,000; Jose Mendoza – P27,408,152.36; Diosdado Peralta – P22,642,264.73; Martin Villarama, Jr – P19,074,165.20; Lucas Bersamin – P18,811,447.87;

Jose Perez – P9,380,000; Teresita de Castro – P7,941,000; and Presbitero Velasco, Jr. – P7,264,064. (Philippine Star)

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