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Justices ignoring ‘same difference’

12:44 AM January 27, 2016

Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Ethics requires a judge to “so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” Is this tenet applicable only to lower court judges and not to Supreme Court justices?

It seems that despite having shown serious bias and prejudice against presidential candidate Grace Poe on her citizenship issue before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) where they sat as members, Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion are ignoring calls for them to inhibit themselves from Supreme Court deliberations on that very issue. They have in fact voted against the temporary restraining order earlier issued by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno to stop the Commission on Elections from excluding Poe from the ballot.

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Inquirer columnist Oscar Franklin Tan could not have said it more clearly: “Because a case may not be appealed to the same judge, the three SET justices… stated they would inhibit if the Supreme Court reviews the SET decision” (“How will SC rule on Grace Poe tomorrow?” Opinion, 1/18/16). Well, in reality, they have not. They are brazening it out. And the purported reason is, it is not yet the SET decision that is the subject of the TRO but the Comelec decision in the other disqualification cases.

Same difference! We laypeople are not that stupid. Both the SET and the Comelec decisions are principally about the citizenship of Poe! Is there no “ethics committee” in the Supreme Court to investigate whether a justice has blatantly overstepped the bounds of decorum and propriety? A justice was once investigated for “plagiarism” by the Supreme Court itself. Why could it not hold the three justices answerable for an impropriety that is just as reprehensible and undermines public confidence in the Court’s impartiality?

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—YVETTE SL-PETROCELLI, [email protected]

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TAGS: Citizenship, disqualification, Elections 2016, Grace Poe
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