Keeping fingers crossed on Atenean justices of the Supreme Court
In retired chief justice Artemio Panganiban’s May 30 column (“BBM’s Cabinet, Senator Poe, Justice Singh”), he pointed out that there are now seven justices of the Supreme Court who graduated from the Jesuit-run law school. Should that Catholic institution be proud of that? It may be recalled that Ateneo’s most famous product, the late chief justice Renato Corona, quickly became infamous after he was convicted of corruption and was removed by the Senate impeachment court in an almost unanimous decision. Even Corona partisans in that court found it hard to believe any of his lame “palusot” for amassing wealth way beyond his legitimate income in public service.
Then, there were also retired Atenean justices Arturo Brion, Mariano del Castillo, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe who went rogue by voting to give Ferdinand Marcos Sr. — the dictator who, together with his entire family, got thrown out of Malacañang by the people who could no longer stand their massive corruption — a “hero’s burial” at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The main campus of the Ateneo de Manila University along Katipunan Road, Quezon City, had, at that time, put up huge and bright signages reading “HINDI BAYANI SI MARCOS,” undoubtedly urging everyone, including those Atenean justices in the Supreme Court, not to lose their moral scruples. Had those justices voted accordingly or at least abstained, the votes of the Duterte-appointed justices would not have been enough to give the Marcos family that undeserved honor.
While it’s too early to say how the new seven Atenean justices might vote on the disqualification cases against Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from holding office as president, we are keeping our fingers crossed. Former chief justice Panganiban, whose knowledge of the law is beyond question, had this to say last Jan. 31, 2022: Marcos Jr. was “unquestionably convicted of a crime penalized (under the Tax Code of 1977) by perpetual disqualification.” If they will just follow the clear language of that law and vote with Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa (appointed by the late President Benigno Aquino III and therefore not beholden to Marcos-friendly President Duterte), nine votes will be more than enough to stop Marcos Jr. and his family from occupying Malacañang once again for the next six years!
How many “Hail Marys” will it take to make those Atenean justices see the light of day?
REY CHAVEZ ESCOBAR
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