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SC, greatest casualty in SAL-N row

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…” (Romans 13:1-2, the Holy Bible).

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SC, GREATEST CASUALTY IN SAL-N ROW: The greatest casualty in the tug-of-war over the statement of assets, liability and net worth (SALN) of Chief Justice Renato Corona during the third day of the impeachment trial against him at the Senate last Wednesday, January 18, 2012, is the Supreme Court itself.

In full view of the Filipino nation, senators who wanted the SALN of Corona delivered at all cost to the impeachment court demeaned, derided and totally marginalized the Supreme Court, as if they were demeaning, deriding and totally marginalizing a very low trial court. That third day of the impeachment trial will go down in history as the day our lawmakers, who swore to uphold the integrity of a co-equal branch, treated that co-equal branch like trash or rubbish.

What do I mean by this? Well, in cajoling the clerk of the tribunal, Atty. Enriqueta Esguerra Vidal, to turn over the SALN which she brought with her to the Senate without authorization from the Court, senators took turns in telling her, “do not be afraid of the Supreme Court”, “you need not follow its memorandum circular prohibiting the release of SALN without its authorization”, or other words to that effect.

Now, after that very public display of defiance, disrespect and disobedience of the highest court of the land by our senators, will there be anyone left who will still follow the Supreme Court? If no one will follow the Supreme Court anymore, will peace and order still reign in this country? Indeed, that Wednesday hearing will have far-reaching complications for all of us, for it has nurtured the seed of disobeying the highest court of the land.

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SC CAN CORRECT ABUSES OF THE IMPEACHMENT COURT: Is the Supreme Court really without power to intervene in the on-going impeachment trial of Corona, as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and other senator-judges are openly insisting, on the theory that the Constitution vests in the Senate the exclusive right to try an impeachment case?

The answer is no, for the truth is that the very Constitution which Enrile and the other senators are invoking to prevent the Supreme Court from mixing it up, as it were, with the Senate over the impeachment trial is clearly saying that the tribunal has the power to review and correct what the Senate as an impeachment court is doing.

This power of the Supreme Court is found under Section 1, Art. VIII of that Constitution, enacted and ratified under the first President Aquino in 1987. This section says: “Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law…
“… Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.”

The present Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio Morales, when she was still a Supreme Court justice, explained the foregoing provision this way in a case involving impeachment: “… the power of judicial review… granted to the Philippine Supreme Court and lower courts, as expressly provided for in the Constitution is not just a power but also a duty, and it was given an expanded definition to include the power to correct any grave abuse of discretion on the part of any government branch or instrumentality.”

By Atty. Batas Mauricio




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