SC impeach case aims at stability of judiciary | Inquirer Opinion

SC impeach case aims at stability of judiciary

/ 04:06 AM March 29, 2011

THIS REFERS to Conrado Banal III’s March 10 column titled “Knot the money.” The members of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) are contemplating on filing an impeachment case against some members of the Supreme Court not because they ruled against the LCP but because the LCP wants to protect the integrity of the Court as an institution. Impeachment is a legitimate course of action sanctioned by the Constitution. The LCP’s stance, therefore, cannot be considered “terrorism.”

The LCP’s claim of flip-flopping is not without basis. The Court rendered a decision on Nov. 18, 2008, declaring unconstitutional the 16 cityhood laws. That decision became final after two motions for reconsideration by the 16 municipalities were denied. An Entry of Judgment was made on May 21, 2009. The decision was executed when the Department of Budget and Management issued LBM (Local Budget Memorandum) No. 61 on June 30, 2009, providing for the final IRA allocation for 2009 due to the reversion of 16 newly created cities to municipalities; and when the Commission on Elections issued Resolution No. 8670 on Sept. 22, 2009, ordaining that voters in the 16 municipalities shall vote not as cities but as municipalities in the May 10, 2010 elections.

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Despite all these, the Court still considered multiple motions (not to mention the clandestine letters sent by lawyer Estelito Mendoza to the justices, urging them to vote in favor of the 16 municipalities) and rendered three more decisions: (1) Dec. 21, 2009, declaring the cityhood laws constitutional; (2) Aug. 24, 2010, declaring the cityhood laws unconstitutional; and (3) Feb. 15, 2011 declaring the cityhood laws constitutional. Three reversals in less than three years! If that is not flip-flopping, then I really do not know what is. I believe that Supreme Court justices, especially in cases involving the Constitution, are supposed to deeply study and to be deliberate and meticulous in their decisions.

The LCP, at the same time, has consistently maintained that an aspiring city must comply with the compulsory requirements of the Constitution and the Local Government Code. This is the mandate of the fundamental law. The rule of law must simply be obeyed and upheld at all times.

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There have been municipalities that managed to attain the P100-million income requirement and, consequently, were successful in converting to cities. The city of Sta. Rosa was converted in 2003, Meycauayan in 2006, the cities of San Juan and Navotas in 2007, and the cities of Biñan and Dasmariñas in 2010. The LCP welcomed the conversion of these cities.
The members of the LCP are more than willing to part with their IRA share to new cities that are qualified. What were violated in this case were the Constitution, the Local Government Code of 1991 and the stability of the judicial system.
At the end of the day, it is not “all about money.” It is about the Constitution and the rule of law.

—OSCAR S. RODRIGUEZ,
mayor, San Fernando City and national president,
League of Cities of the Philippines

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TAGS: impeachment, Judiciary (system of justice)
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