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Indeed, an unbeatable ‘titan’ on ‘Mount Olympus’

12:07 AM December 01, 2015

FORMER chief justice Artemio Panganiban informed us in a column: “As a general rule, petitions for certiorari questioning the rulings of lower courts denying demurrers are frowned upon. Such rulings are appealed only after the proceedings below had been completed. But, allowing an exception, the Supreme Court—upon receipt of, and as prayed for by the petition—swiftly acted, stopped the SBN [Sandiganbayan] trial…” He was writing about the Supreme Court’s “swift” (read: uncharacteristic) intervention in the Sandiganbayan’s denial of former president Gloria Arroyo’s bid to dismiss the plunder case against her via a demurrer for insufficiency of evidence (“Going for the jugular,” Opinion, 11/1/15).

In a letter to the editor (“Established jurisprudence,” Opinion, 10/28/15), one Jeremias Tobias wrote: “(N)ormally, the Supreme Court does not entertain petitions of that nature…. It prefers to review the case only after the trial is finished, after a judgment is rendered and appealed to it in case of conviction.” He was referring to the same thing and made the same observation.

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Both opinions confirm that the Supreme Court is really quite picky and finicky with cases that are brought to it for review. But while the former chief justice was being too polite, wondering only why the Supreme Court had “swiftly acted” favorably on that Arroyo petition, Tobias pointed out that Arroyo-appointed (read: “friendly”) justices are still a dominant force in the Supreme Court. He called a spade and spade: “Payback time”?

Sometimes letters to the editor are a more interesting read than columns which often beat around the bush! Like for instance, again, the former chief justice merely asked: “Can Solicitor General Florin T. Hilbay—who by law is the SBN’s and the prosecutors’ counsel—match the clarity, certainty and creativity of Attorney Mendoza?” He was referring to that most privileged law practitioner in the country, Estelito Mendoza, now Arroyo’s counsel in the Supreme Court.

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Indeed, given Mendoza’s reputation, almost all law practitioners grudgingly concede he is practically unbeatable in the Supreme Court arena! Ask any of them why and he will gladly and boldly whisper it in your ear! So, here we ask more straightforwardly: Does Hilbay, a mere mortal by comparison, really stand a chance against such a titan in that “Mount Olympus” forum along Padre Faura? Let the readers see through the obvious!

—SCARLET S. SYTANGCO, sssytangco@gmail.com

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TAGS: Artemio Panganiban, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, nation, news, Sandiganbayan
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