CHIEF JUSTICE MARIA Lourdes Sereno appealed to Silliman students last Feb. 7 to look at law and power as instruments of service to God and country rather than as sources of pride.
“If you are going to be a lawyer, look at it as a vocation that answers the heavenly calling to defend the weak and powerless . . . To look at law the other way is nothing but materialistic and destructive,” she said.
Sereno also told a jam-packed Luce auditorium that whether they are aware of it or not, part of the reason why young people dream of becoming lawyers is that they want to enter the world of power.
“The ability to pronounce what is right or wrong is power. To be able to argue and articulate that way is to use the language of power. To be able to order a world in which right prevails, that is power,” she said at a Silliman University General Education Integrative Lecture.
However, Sereno warned that power can be “intoxicating and can lead you to believe that might is right.”
“In all my years in power, I will tell you frankly, I have not heard anyone say he was happy because he was powerful or because he has reached the pinnacle of worldly success . . . What I saw were regrets, bitter memories and sins they know they cannot so easily erase,” she said.
Sereno added that if anyone is attracted to the world of law, “then let that attraction be because you can be of service in the use of power.”
“If you are going to be drawn to law, look at it as an extension of God’s work of justice on earth. Look at justice and mimic the work of God who will one day render final judgment on us all,” she said.
Known for being outspoken of her born-again Christian faith, Sereno also said that when she took the position of chief justice, she knew that the power is not hers to hold but that it is all from God.
“I am not ashamed to tell the nation that it is my faith in Christ that has made me this way. And it is only because I believe that He will lead me that I am confident that I can do what is right for the judiciary and for the country,” she added.
Sereno is the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines and the second youngest at the age of 52.