Who’s going to kick butts in Supreme Court?
There she goes again. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno reiterated for the umpteenth time that the role of the judiciary is to “keep the social fabric intact, address the people’s cry for justice,” blah, blah, blah (“Duterte: Sereno endorsing anarchy through ‘dangerous statements,’” News, 8/26/16). The “people’s (very loud) cry for justice” is for the courts of the land, foremost of which is the Supreme Court she heads, to deliver speedy justice.
To date, the normal time for cases to be decided with finality is from 15 to 20 years. Impatient for reforms, is it any wonder President Duterte is fuming mad? Needless to say, he is articulating the people’s long-festering frustrations with the justice system.
Let’s take a look at temporary restraining orders (TROs). Trial courts can make their TROs effective only for 20 days and the Court of Appeals 60 days. But the TROs from the Supreme Court are effective “until further orders,” i.e., forever. It is thus not unusual for such orders to keep litigants in suspense for years on end.
The Torre de Manila case is a glaring example: The Court’s TRO to stop construction of that tower is still effective—for more than a year now.
And that’s only regarding TROs issued by the Supreme Court. Judgments on the merit are an entirely different nightmare. It can make cases remain pending “till Kingdom come.” It is often said that the Supreme Court can do anything it pleases simply because it is “supreme”—never mind that Section 15, Article VIII of the Constitution has clearly ordained that cases before it should be decided within two years.
Is the Supreme Court addressing that cancer in our judicial system? Sure, it has been punishing lower court magistrates across the land for their indolence; but has it bothered to look into its own Padre Faura backyard? Does the Chief Justice not have any say about the slowness of her associate justices in resolving cases? Is it now President Duterte’s job to kick a–es in the Sereno Court?
—GABRIELLE MICHELLE M. AGUILLERA, [email protected]
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