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Ombudsman cannot probe CJ on $ deposits

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him…” (1 John 5:14-15, the Holy Bible).

NRMC HS 73 HOLDS MEDICAL-SURGICAL MISSION: As you read this, the alumni of the defunct Dr. Nicanor Reyes Memorial Colleges of Paniqui, Tarlac who belong to its high school Class of 1973 shall have already concluded their “operation tuli” and medical-surgical mission involving about a hundred or more kids and patients who have been circumcised and operated on to remove cysts and other unwanted growths or mass in their bodies.

Dr. Rowena Abubo Bautista and Edgar “Botong” Guiang, the president and vice president of Class of 1973, told me the class will henceforth be holding this kind of a project on a yearly basis, to help poor Tarlaquenos get access to free circumcision and free medical and surgical assistance.

I wish to thank Dr. Arthur Platon, the former chief surgeon and residency training chief of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila, for conducting the surgeries, as well as Barangay Canan, Paniqui Chairwoman Yolly Flores Wainwright, for allowing her barangay hall to be used as a venue. I thank likewise the other doctors and other members of Class of 1973 who helped in this project. Mabuhay!!!

OMBUDSMAN CANNOT PROBE CJ ON $ DEPOSITS: Can Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, a former Supreme Court justice, really insist on investigating Chief Justice Renato Corona for graft and corruption on the basis of reports that he has about US$10 million in bank deposits?

My answer is that, no, she cannot, because, as she is very much aware of, there is a Supreme Court rule which says that only the tribunal itself can initiate an investigation of graft and corruption cases against its justices. In fact, Morales was still a member of the Supreme Court when that rule---Administrative Matter No. 10-4-20-SC---was enacted and promulgated.

This rule, after creating the court’s “Permanent Committee on Ethics and Ethical Standards” in May 2010, provides: “The Committee shall have the task of preliminarily investigating all complaints involving graft and corruption and violations of ethical standards, including anonymous complaints, filed against Members of the Court, and of submitting findings and recommendations to the en banc..”

SC HAS THE POWER TO INVESTIGATE RAPS VS. JUSTICES: The import and intent of Administrative Matter No. 10-4-20-SC is quite clear: through the Committee on Ethics, the Supreme Court is tasking itself to preliminarily investigate all complaints involving graft and corruption against justices of the Court. There could be no quibbling about this, for the language of the circular is clear.

And we cannot even fault the Supreme Court for wanting it to be like that---especially in a legal system like ours where any Tom, Dick and Harry can file any case against any justice of the Supreme Court, even over a charge which is more imagined than real. In fact, if I recall right, even during the leadership of Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, this rule was already well-enshrined in the tribunal.

As far as I could gather, that rule has not been changed, even up to this time. Consequently, it remains obligatory upon every Filipino, the Ombudsman included. Unless, of course, Morales can point to any repeal or amendment of that rule, or any justifiable reason why the Supreme Court should depart from its mandate.

by Atty. Batas Mauricio




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