Clarion call for judicial courage
In the aftermath of the recent national elections, we have become a nation divided, frustrated, and psychologically challenged in our perceptions and aspirations of what went wrong and where this country is going.
Each, in his own personal assessment, is clinging to a hopeful future. But cumulatively, we are brutalized by decisions and actions in many levels of government that are unjust and nefarious, which make us long for judicial courage that is the bedrock of the rule of law and the foundation of a strong nation.
Speaking of judicial courage, it is the clarion call of the moment and in our time. In the distant past, we recall the audacity of men and women who threw the gauntlet in the name of the law and what is right.
In 1967, for example, the Senate Electoral Tribunal ousted the popularly elected Sen. Raul Manglapus for election overspending. And in many other cases later, including that of Sorsogon Gov. Juan Frivaldo, our Supreme Court decided courageously to oust elected officials because the “vice of ineligibility” cannot be erased even by an electoral mandate.
Then in 1986, in an extraordinary act of judicial discernment and statesmanship, the Supreme Court declared the proceedings of the Sandiganbayan that acquitted all the 25 accused military personnel in the murder of Ninoy Aquino as “sham” and ordered a new trial. The Sandiganbayan promptly conducted the trial and, after its conclusion, rendered a decision to convict 16 of the accused and sentence them to life imprisonment, which the high court affirmed in 1991.
These shining moments of judicial courage are the stuff that fortifies our understanding of the majesty of law and justice. They reflect the immortal words of Lord Mansfield, chief justice of England who, in 1772, said: “We must not regard political consequences, how formidable so ever they may be. If rebellion was the certain consequence, we are bound to say: let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
We hope that such acts of courage will come to pass to steer our country in the right direction and soothe the violated conscience of our people.
Ancheta K. Tan,
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