Hope vs a Duterte SC: righteous JBC and choices
The scenario limned by Rey Escobar in his letter “‘Ultramajority’ Duterte SC looms” (Opinion, 1/28/17) may be too much to take. While 12 is the correct number of justices President Duterte may get to elevate to the Supreme Court during his six-year term, the likelihood of out-and-out “sycophants” in their 40s being ensconced there and dominating the Supreme Court until they reach 70 years of age seems too creepy to imagine.
We would rather give the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) the benefit of the doubt. It is tasked with the duty and responsibility of vetting all candidates for appointment to the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, not only for competence but for “integrity, probity and independence.” Duterte cannot appoint anyone outside of the short list cobbled by the JBC.
Of course, it is possible that sleazeballs can slip past the JBC’s scrutiny and manage to worm their way into the highest court of the land; but, as former chief justice Artemio Panganiban spoke from his own experience in that Court (“SC stood tall in crucial cases,” Opinion, 1/29/17), most will, by and large, resist the temptation to betray their “oaths to render justice though the heavens fall… Fiat justitia ruat caelum.”
But then again, we have also seen how even a simple majority of justices (eight or nine out of 15) can be so brazen and impervious to public indignation, as in the matter of: (1) allowing the remains of the most hated president, Ferdinand Marcos, to be buried among heroes in the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite admissions that he could never be considered a “hero”; (2) acquitting former president Gloria M. Arroyo of plunder in total disregard of the basic rules of fair play; and (3) granting bail to former senator Juan Ponce Enrile on “humanitarian grounds,” which is unheard of in any of the Court’s own precedents.
We are with Panganiban in hoping—and praying—that the “justices are well aware that history will ultimately judge them. They know that our people, particularly the law professors and law students, remember those who lived up to the strict judicial standards”—and did not sell their souls to the devil.
ROMANO MORANO MONTENEGRO, [email protected]
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