Legal Ethics, who cares?
A news item in the Jan. 6 issue caught our attention: “Justice Velasco asked to inhibit from Marcos case.” The highly politicized family of sitting Supreme Court justice Presbitero Velasco (wife is a town mayor, a daughter is a party-list [“Ang Mata’y Alagaan,” duh!] representative, and a son is a congressman)—is said to be “extremely close” to the family of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, according to an online group called “The Silent Majority.” This is not denied by the Velascos. They have in fact flaunted it.
Velasco was one of the nine justices who voted to allow Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (heroes’ cemetery). His colleague Bienvenido Reyes inhibited himself from the case simply because he is a “frat brod” of President Duterte who wished Marcos to be treated a “hero.”
Another pro-Marcos justice who also should have inhibited himself from that case is Arturo Brion. He was a protégé of the late labor secretary, Blas F. Ople, himself a rabid supporter and defender of the late dictator. Was there ever any doubt Brion had shared Ople’s fascination with and fanaticism toward the Marcoses?
Legal Ethics is being taught in law schools and now forms part of the bar exams to stress the paramount importance of honor and delicadeza among those aspiring to become members of the bar, especially those aspiring to sit in the bench. An oft-repeated dictum from the Supreme Court says: “A judge, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion.” Partiality, even any perception of it, is a must to avoid. Yet, here were two glaring examples, enthroned in the Supreme Court no less, who have made a mockery of all that is judicious and decent. Their fitness to render impartial justice was thus put in question.
Lucky for the country, Brion has retired; but Velasco is hanging on until August 2018!
RAMON NORMAN TORREFRANCA, firstname.lastname@example.org
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