DFA officials award the Certificate of Appreciation to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno. Left to right: Assistant Secretary Eduardo de Vega, Undersecretary Evan Garcia, Chief Justice Sereno, Director-General Carlos Sorreta, and Atty. Johaira Wahab-Manantan, representative of Batch Salinlahi.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno visited the Foreign Service Institute to deliver her lecture “The Role of the Philippine Judiciary in Foreign Policy Making” during the Mangrove Forum on International Relations on 12 March 2015.

Chief Justice Sereno was received by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Policy Evan P. Garcia on behalf of Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Eduardo Jose A. de Vega, and Director-General Carlos D. Sorreta. The lecture, which was organized by the Institute’s Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies in partnership with the DFA Office of Legal Affairs and Foreign Service Officers Cadetship Course Batch Salinlahi, was attended by officers and staff of the DFA.

In his welcome remarks, Undersecretary Garcia emphasized that “while primarily within the province of the executive branch, foreign policy is viewed in the context of the core and strategic interests of the republic–interests that are articulated by the different branches of government and reflected in our Constitution. Being the final arbiter on constitutional question, the judiciary has a substantive role in the successful implementation of our foreign policy. Thus the nexus between the goals of Philippine foreign policy and the mandate of the Supreme Court to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution cannot, in any way, be set aside.”

In his remarks, Director-General Sorreta said, “Many of the norms that govern our (DFA’s) policy and our actions are not legislated. Those that are legislated, the Supreme Court has dealt with very well. Whether it’s extradition or adoption or loss of nationality, there is a whole plethora of jurisprudence on this. But there are important political dimensions to our work. Where there is no legislation, the Supreme Court has filled in the void. For example, most importantly, the treaty powers of the executive… Practically every controversial agreement that the executive has negotiated and entered into has reached the Supreme Court.”  He also added that “foreign states that we negotiate with know that as a democracy, we are answerable to the Constitution and the final arbiter of the Constitution, the Supreme Court.”

Assistant Secretary de Vega moderated the open forum, where members of the audience had the rare opportunity to ask the Chief Justice their questions.

The Mangrove Forum on International Relations is a venue for specialists, experts, and practitioners to engage in discussion of regional and global issues that have political, economic, and socio-cultural impact on the Philippines. It is FSI’s contribution to promoting dialogue and cooperation among the various stakeholders of the Philippines’ foreign policy.

Chief Justice Sereno delivers her lecture on the role of the judiciary in foreign policy.
Chief Justice Sereno delivers her lecture on the role of the judiciary in foreign policy.
Chief Justice Sereno (center) talks with Assistant Secretary de Vega (left) and Director-General Sorreta after the lecture.
The lecture was conducted at the Carlos P. Romulo Library.