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‘Vagrant’ charge against De Lima

/ 02:14 AM July 20, 2012

I am on record as being for Justice Roberto Abad and Ronaldo Zamora for chief justice till 2014, when a new one could be named at a calmer time. Both will be 70 in 2014.

However, I need to defend Justice Secretary Leila de Lima from the current inaccurate charge that she defied the Supreme Court on the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo travel issue.

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What I recall reading was that by a vote of 7-6, the Supreme Court ruled last December that Arroyo had not been in compliance with a requirement that she name a representative with full powers to represent her here in her absence—a condition sine qua non that was not met. No one asked that De Lima be cited for contempt. Neither did the Supreme Court, motu proprio, and it has yet to explain to us and history the terrible precedent of allowing an unarraigned accused to leave the country without asking for some medical proof of the need for foreign medical treatment. Within that week, a St. Luke’s doctor told Pasay Regional Trial Court Judge Jesus Mupas that Arroyo could leave, not the country, but the hospital.

Arraigned, trial could have proceeded in absentia. The Supreme Court knows this hornbook doctrine, but the Arroyos looked the other way.

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OPINION

If one looks for fault in this uncertain, imperfect world of fallible human beings, he can find them in each of us.

But, the cockamamie charge of alleged defiance of the Supreme Court against De Lima is a vagrant proposition without any visible means of support.

As fallback, De Lima, as an alter ego of President Aquino, could have invoked police power or, indeed, the highest power of all, conscience, which no one is to surrender to the state—but which a German lawyer did in Hitler’s time, saluting as law anything that was printed at government expense and calling itself by that name. Of course, one has to be ready to pay the price, including life, liberty, position, etc.

I remain proud of Leila de Lima.

—RENE A.V. SAGUISAG,

[email protected]

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TAGS: chief justice, Leila de Lima, letters, Supreme Court
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