Taking the offensive

It’s been said before but it needs saying again: Midas Marquez is the spokesperson and administrator of the Supreme Court but to hear him speak, one would think he was speaking only for Chief Justice Renato Corona. In his remarks to reporters last April 18 in Baguio City, Marquez said Malacañang’s “assaults” on the Chief Justice had served to undermine public confidence in the high court and the entire judiciary, resulting in “a wave of defiance” against court orders. It was actually an elaboration on his remarks last year that the impeachment of Corona constituted an attack on the judiciary itself. On Dec. 13, 2011, or a day after the House of Representatives transmitted the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice to the Senate for trial, Marquez delivered a mouthful: “Make no mistake. This is an assault not only on the person of Chief Justice Corona, not only on his office, not only on the Supreme Court. This is an assault on all the rights, powers and privileges of the entire judiciary. We are being forced to surrender our constitutionally mandated powers and functions to the whim and caprice of political machinations.” That astounding claim would be echoed in various ways in Marquez’s subsequent remarks—and even actions, such as the Dec. 14 “court holiday” that appeared to have been declared by his office in order to ensure warm bodies for a rally expressing support for the Chief Justice.

Marquez also told reporters in Baguio that newspaper accounts on the “relentless battering” from President Aquino and his officials had pulled down the Supreme Court’s trust ratings. It was a reference to the Pulse Asia survey conducted last Feb. 26-March 9 on 1,200 respondents showing that public trust in the high court dropped to 37 percent last March from 53 percent in November 2011, with the proportion of those expressing distrust rising to 21 percent from 15 percent. Marquez said it was the purported “battering” that caused the drop, as though the public could not be expected to remember the high court’s dismaying rulings, such as its flip-flops on the case involving the city status of 16 municipalities, its recall of its “final” decision that laid-off personnel of Philippine Airlines should be reinstated—or even its quick rejection of the embarrassing charge of plagiarism against one of its own.

And what of the fact that the Senate impeachment court, despite its unique power to try any and all impeachment cases, was hobbled by a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court, Corona’s very turf, on a scrutiny of his undeclared dollar accounts? Public dismay that the high court hewed merely to the letter and not to the spirit of the law in that case is unchanged, but by his remarks Marquez did not consider it as possibly contributing to the plunge in the tribunal’s public trust rating.

Marquez cited certain instances purporting to show “defiance” against the tribunal’s rulings. He mentioned among others the TRO it issued last year on travel restrictions on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who, on that basis, made a dramatic attempt to leave the country but was foiled by the justice department. That Marquez would, without blinking, cite the TRO that to this day remains questionable—for being known to the beneficiaries at a suspiciously early time, for one thing, and for the same beneficiaries’ failure to sufficiently comply with its requirements, for another—indicates a disturbing cynicism that can hardly be expected to boost the trust quotient of the high court.

What Marquez appears to be doing in his latest remarks is taking the offensive in preparation for the resumption of the Chief Justice’s impeachment trial in May. His renewed tack—that any criticism of Corona is an assault on the Supreme Court and the judiciary, which in turn results in an unfair performance in the surveys—is a piece of bromide that is getting truly tiresome. It’s the perfect broken record—a continuing reiteration of Corona’s own declaration on Dec. 12, 2011, that he would lead “the fight against any and all who dare to destroy the court and the independence of the judiciary.” It behooves the public to be clear-headed in addressing such remarks. In its own preparation for the impeachment proceedings, the public should remember what has transpired, what has been revealed, and what has been blatantly suppressed. And also that more than once, the Chief Justice has promised to refute the charges “point by point.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=27435

Tags: editorial , judiciary , malacanang , midas marquez , opinion , Supreme Court

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  • Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?
  • Napoles to have surgery on Tuesday – report
  • Mayor’s assassination linked to black sand mining controversy
  • Initial batch of Etihad passengers tested negative for MERS-CoV
  • Sports

  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Ilad’s last-second basket lifts Gems over Bakers
  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • Marketplace