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‘Weather-weather’ in the high court

05:02 AM March 07, 2018

This is in connection with the letter of George del Mar (“Get on with ‘kangaroo trial,’” 3/3/18). Indeed, how often have we heard House of Representatives justice committee chair Reynaldo Umali say it is nothing more than an exercise of a “constitutional duty” on the part of Congress to investigate and prosecute the impeachment charges against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, or any impeachable official for that matter? He was, of course, talking through his hat.

Former chief justice Renato Corona was impeached and convicted by members of Congress mostly subservient to then President Benigno Aquino III who hated Corona. Corona’s “midnight appointment” as chief justice by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who wanted to have her most rabid admirer ensconced as her rear guard, was considered a slap in the face by then incoming president Aquino, who later vowed to have Corona removed from the Supreme Court and held Arroyo accountable for plunder and other misdeeds.

Now comes Sereno facing impeachment charges by members of Congress mostly subservient, this time around, to President Duterte who needs her “hudikatura” like a hole in the head! It is public knowledge that Sereno’s constant nagging against his dictatorial proclivities has prompted Mr. Duterte to get rid of her. And here’s the thing: Should Vice President Leni Robredo succeed Mr. Duterte — in due time or prematurely, as the case may be — it is almost certain she would also have Mr. Duterte’s chief justice kicked out by her own posse of turncoats. Get
the picture?

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And the stark contrast has not been lost on us. In the Corona trial, almost all members of the Supreme Court rooted for him and blocked many requests for documents relating to the corruption charges against him, citing the need to uphold the independence of the judiciary and the confidentiality of its own business. From the ivory tower, none of its members volunteered to give testimony in any shape or form against Corona. Court administrator Jose Midas Marquez even went to the extent of calling on all lower justices and judges to leave their posts and attend rallies in support of Corona, also citing the need to uphold their independence.

In Sereno’s case, almost all members of the Supreme Court want to give her the boot and several of them have given testimony to make their disgust toward her unmistakably known. All that mumbo jumbo about independence and confidentiality went flying out the window like stinking garbage thrown into the Pasig River. Marquez himself was all out in his support for the move to
have Sereno ousted. It has seemed like an act of revenge for him against Aquino who had orchestrated Corona’s ouster and Sereno’s succession to the throne. Clearly, weather-weather na rin pati sa Supreme Court whose members are now wallowing in politics just as much as the members of Congress!

Umali should cease pontificating about the virtues of respecting the Constitution. What he and his fellow committee members are wasting taxpayer money on right now has absolutely nothing to do with their supposed fealty to the fundamental law. If they are really serious about preserving the sanctity and integrity of the Constitution, why hasn’t any one of them filed impeachment charges against the notorious majority of the incumbent Supreme Court justices who have continually defied the nonnegotiable, undebatable constitutional command to dispense justice more speedily, i.e., within the two-year period prescribed strictly for them to resolve cases? Violation of the Constitution couldn’t get more culpable than that!

As Mr. Duterte loves to say “corruption must stop,” that duplicity and hypocrisy in the Supreme Court must likewise stop, once and for all. Knowing that so many litigants and/or their lawyers have died of old age without seeing final closure in their decades-long cases is utterly unacceptable in light of the efficiency and dispatch with which cases are being resolved in many neighboring Asian jurisdictions like Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, etc. — in just a matter of months in general. Shame on us!

RIMALDO PACIFICO,
pacific.rim.aldo@gmail.com

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TAGS: Inquirer letters, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Reynaldo Umali, Rimaldo Pacifico, Sereno impeachment, Supreme Court
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