With the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno simmering to a boil as more and more Supreme Court associate justices are washing (her) dirty linen in public, focus is once again on the actuations of justices who, by virtue of their most exalted positions, should be above petty partisanship. Their bickerings should have been settled among themselves.
Sitting and retired justices have instead ganged up on Sereno in public and on national TV for her supposed arrogance in thinking and acting like she alone is the ultimate repository of judicial authority, and the other justices are nothing more than backup performers in a farcical stage show of statesmanship or one-upmanship.
Rewind to the time when former chief justice Renato Corona, acting alone, monkeyed around with the temporary restraining order directing then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to desist from preventing his benefactor, then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, from leaving the country on suspicion that the latter was trying to evade the nonbailable charge of electoral sabotage (“Hello, Garci?”).
That TRO was subject to the conditions that GMA: 1) put up a P2-million cash bond to ensure her return to the country to answer any criminal charge; 2) sign a sworn undertaking binding her to any notice served on her lawyers while she was out of the country; and 3) report her whereabouts to any consular office abroad at all times.
That TRO issued by the Supreme Court en banc being “conditional,” it was obviously not yet effective, thus “inoperative,” until the first two conditions were complied with, as any first-year law student would know about “suspensive conditions.” Then Court administrator doubling as Corona’s mouthpiece, Jose Midas Marquez, announced that the TRO was “effective immediately” according to his boss and that GMA should forthwith be allowed to leave the country—no ifs, ands or buts.
Midas lectured everyone that the conditions were actually “resolutory,” meaning “effective immediately” until revoked. A sitting justice then commented that such interpretation of a “conditional” TRO was “absurd”! Yet, no one in the court en banc took Corona to task for his solo act or Marquez for mouthing nonsense.
De Lima was made to show cause why she should not be punished for contempt for disobeying that Corona order. Perhaps due to its plain silliness, that citation has remained in limbo to date.
Now fast forward to the present day. Sereno’s head is on the chopping block for, among other things, supposedly going it alone also in implementing another TRO regarding another case in a way contrary to established procedures. And a whole gang of associate justices are jumping in to bury her alive for having blatantly violated the “collegiality” rule!
So, these are the kind of “gods” now lording it over “Mount Olympus” on Padre Faura? Heaven help us!
MARCELO “JR” GARCIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
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