MANILA, Philippines —President Benigno Aquino III on Friday appointed Maria Lourdes Sereno as the Philippines’ first woman Chief Justice.


Sereno, 52, will serve for 18 years or up to 2030 unless she gets impeached. She will become the second longest serving Chief Justice, next to Cayetano Arellano who served for 19 years.


“In the midst of this period of deep mourning for the loss of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, the President is cognizant of his constitutional duty to appoint the next Chief Justice of the Philippines. He has therefore decided to appoint Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal-Sereno as the 24th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.


“The President is confident that Chief Justice Sereno will lead the judiciary in undertaking much-needed reforms. We believe the Judicial Branch of government has a historic opportunity to restore our people’s confidence in the judicial system,” Lacierda added.


Sereno is the first appointee of Aquino to the Supreme Court. She was appointed by Aquino as Associate Justice on August 16, 2010.


Prior to her stint at the Supreme Court, Sereno worked as Executive Director, Asian Institute of Management from February, 2009 to August 15, 2010. She also served as President of Accesslaw Inc. from April 2000 to August 15, 2010.


Sereno also taught at the University of the Philippines College of Law from 1986 to 2005 and served as a consultant for United Nations, World Bank, and US Agency for International Development (USAID) between 1995 and 2002.


Last year, after Congress impeached former Chief Justice Renato Corona, Malacañang officials already hinted on their preference for Corona’s replacement.


Lacierda then said Mr. Aquino “needs someone of the likes of Maylou Sereno,” referring to Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.


Sereno cast one of the dissenting votes in the Supreme Court decision to allow former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave the country for medial treatment.


Out of the eight-member Judicial and Bar Council which is constitutionally mandated to screen and recommend applicants to the Judiciary and Ombudsman post, six has voted for Sereno. Presiding Chair and Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta and retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Regino Hermosisima did not vote for Sereno.


Sereno is one of the high court justices who pushed for a higher compensation for the Cojuangcos in the Hacienda Luisita ruling.


Sereno, in her opinion on the high court’s Hacienda Luisita ruling, said that the valuation of the land should be based on current fair market value, at the time HLI was issued a Notice of Coverage on Jan. 2, 2006.


If the valuation of the land would be based on the 2006 fair market value, HLI would have to be compensated some P10 billion for the total 4,915.7466 hectares up for distribution.