Justices differ on what’s right and wrong
“High court unseats Rep. Pichay” (News, 2/2/16) reported that the Supreme Court disqualified Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay from holding public office. It reversed the ruling of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) and declared his rival the lawful winner. Most noteworthy was the line: “The (Supreme Court) justices who are HRET members—Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta—did not take part in the Supreme Court voting.”
Juxtapose this with the decision of Supreme Court Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion who, as members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal, cast adverse votes on the citizenship issue against Sen. Grace Poe, and still insisted on taking part in the high court’s review of that same citizenship issue (albeit arising from a resolution of the Commission on Elections in another set of disqualification cases)! Simply put, a judge cannot be part of any review process over a judgment he had expressed bias for or against. “It just ain’t right”!
For their inhibition from the Supreme Court’s voting, Velasco, et al. found no need for any explanation. The reason was too obvious to them. Indeed, how could they not make a mockery of the Court’s power of judicial review if they tainted it with their own “preparticipation” along with their prejudgment? Apparently, Carpio, et al. saw things quite differently. Alas, given this confusion in their sense of what is right and wrong—or more basically, of what is ethical or unethical—is it any wonder our justice system is such a mess?
—SCARLET S. SYTANGCO, [email protected]
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