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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bench Warmers

This year will be a defining moment for the Supreme Court.

If the Executive Department had its years of glory and efficiency under Cory and Ramos and the Legislative Department its heyday in the time of Senators Taňada, Diokno and Recto, the judiciary will have a thousand flowers blooming this year.

A series of cases have been filed before the Supreme Court and it involves both the legislative and the Executive Department.

On the issues confronting the legislative department, we have some congressmen questioning the act of the Judiciary Committee and the plenary itself in dismissing the impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo based on its warped  understanding of the one-year bar on the Arroyo impeachment complaints filed by 3 parties in succession.  This is going to be decided and harmonized in the light of the ruling laid down in Francisco v. House or Representatives which provided that impeachment is initiated upon filing and referral to the plenary.

Another litmus test would be: Whether the formation of a constituent assembly would require separate voting of each of the Houses in the legislature.  Speaker de Venecia and his henchman, Congressman Pichay, have voiced the sentiment that they can do without the Senate in amending the Constitution.  Senator Joker Arroyo belittled the antics of these two solons and dismissed the idea of charter change as un-Filipino.

On the part of the Executive Department, we have the issue of Executive Order No. 464 that will bedevil the High Court although I suspect that this case would  not be too difficult to resolve in favor of the Legislative branch of government.

There is also the issue on the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response which the leftist groups seemed to have lost all strength to test the extent of the government’s high handedness.

Likewise, the Garci petition which is neither here nor there, where he seeks to question the veracity of the contents even as he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge his voice on the tapes.  “Duh” is his middle name, I suppose.

Then, there is the uberRotarian Joc Joc Bolante, the model of truth and integrity in the Rotary Club, who has filed a case before the High Court seeking to stop the Senate from arresting him.  “Gall” is his middle name, I suppose.

All these cases will or must be decided within this year.  If these cases are not out by this year, it will be a serious blow and a mortal wound inflicted on the credibility and stature of the Judiciary.

It is up to Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban to raise the bar of judicial excellence. And this can only be manifested if he insists and exercises judicial independence and restraint from the twin powers of the purse and the arms.

These high profile cases must be decided this year.  Otherwise, the Supreme Court may possibly lose its high trust ratings and reputation among members of the bar and the public at large.

After all, justice delayed is justice denied.  More so, if the case involves the highest official of the land.  Should they not tackle these important manners this year, it will send the signal to the ordinary men and womenfolk that some are more equal than others.

In the meantime, while the justices unsheathed their verbal rapiers, I trust that the members of the bench will not fall short of the independence and bravery of the High Court.

Let the spirit of Arellano, Laurel and Teehankee live on. And dream on for truth and justice to prevail in this land. After all, in truth, there are no shades of grey. And keep our bench warm and the bar cozy for truth to slide in without fear or favor.


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