Of legalistic justices, political SET and jury verdict
One might wonder how justices of great education and experience in jurisprudence could still have different interpretations of the rule of law. Do the magistrates view a case like it were a tilted glass of water that creates different impressions depending on which angle they see it from? Or is it because there is some grain of truth to the Filipino saying, “Ang batas ay may butas (The law has loopholes)”?
In retrospect, why did the framers of the Constitution make the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) a composition of six senators (not limited to lawyers) and only three Supreme Court justices, not the other way around—considering that the cases brought to the tribunal are issues of law? Perhaps, the framers had in mind the idea to inject the people’s voice (of justice), through the six senators representing the population who elected them.
The recent SET ruling of 5-4 that junked the disqualification case against Sen. Grace Poe can be seen as a “triumph” of the “voice of the people.” Noteworthy is the vote of Sen. Bam Aquino, a Liberal Party member, who crossed party lines to dismiss the case—which helped in preventing the further marginalization of the already marginalized foundlings in the Philippines.
In the interest of justice, the magistrates who voted for Poe’s disqualification should inhibit themselves from the case should it be elevated to the Supreme Court.
For once, let me commend President Aquino; he said that if he had his way, he would allow Senator Poe to run for president and let the people decide her fate. P-Noy added that, at the end of the day, sovereignty resides in the people.
Incidentally, in the United States, all citizens between 18-70 years of age are subject to compulsory jury duty. Certain professions, such as lawyers and ministers are exempted; the insane and those convicted of crime are disqualified. The jury is supposed to be impartial and has no prior opinion and has no bias or prejudice for or against either side. Moreover, an acquittal verdict of the jury in a criminal case is final.
—ARMANDO LIBRANDO ALPAY
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