Press Release
December 14, 2011

On the issue of the court holiday

These are very disturbing times. During the time when I was an RTC judge, it never entered our heads to protest anything the Supreme Court told us to do. But now they feel they have to avail of their freedom of association and freedom of assembly. There is no way you can suppress this right on the ground that they are under the supervision of the Supreme Court. So first, with respect to the judges and staff of RTC, they are availing of a constitutional right that cannot be stopped. Secondly, on the question of the holiday, it is simply a question of policy. That should be rightfully decided by the Supreme Court because of its power of administrative supervision. But as I've said, even the Supreme Court cannot stop the members of the trial judiciary from employing their rights under the Constitution of free assembly and free expression. So it's a stalemate.

Is it a negative effect of impeachment case filed against Chief Justice Corona?

Maaari. Una, kapag inimpeach mo, ibig sabihin idinemanda mo, pero hindi pa naman found guilty. Kapag inimpeach mo ang Chief Justice, yung mga ayaw sa kaniyang polisiya, maybe for reasons unrelated to the present controversy, will also seize the opportunity to rise against him dahil kalaban nila. So that becomes an atmosphere of instability. Instability is the worst fear of the judicial system because if it is unstable, people will no longer believe in the integrity of their decisions, and that will destroy our democracy.

Pangalawa, all the Supreme Court justices will all be frightened to death. They will be frightened out of their wits to write what they truly feel should be the proper decision according to the law and the facts established because they are afraid that if they issued the so-called politically wrong decision, or the politically incorrect decision, they might be threatened also with impeachment.

This has now become a country of fear. Everyone is in fear for himself, at least in the judicial system. Takot na sila. Kung yung Chief Justice nila naimpeach na, ano pa kaya... Kaya ang mangyayari diyan ay magpapakita ng tunay na kulay ang bawat isa sa mga justices natin, iyong panig kay President Aquino, iyong mga panig kay Rep. Arroyo, at iyong mga talagang independent-minded lamang. We shall have to see where the story will take us because it is the first time in our history, and the history of other tripartite countries like ours.

What will happen if there is instability in the judiciary?

People will start losing faith also in the integrity of the decisions of the lower courts. Kung ang Supreme Court is subjected to doubt, ang lower courts pa kaya. It will tend to produce endless litigation because when the trial court issues a decision, they will likely appeal it to the Court of Appeals, and appeal it to the highest authority, the Supreme Court, because now they will no longer have implicit belief in the correctness of the decisions. Plus, we are now going to see in practice or in empirical history of the predictions of the people who created the United States model--they wrote books called the Federalist Papers, and wrote their comments there. We shall now see whether it is necessary to give the Supreme Court additional power because the power of the government is distributed as follows: the Office of the President has the power of the armed forces, it can employ violence; the power of the legislature is to determine appropriations, how to spend the money of the government--that is the power of unlimited public funds. But the power of the Supreme Court lies only in the so-called moral authority. Wala siyang panlaban. Wala siyang army, wala siyang pera, moral authority lang. If that moral authority is eroded, wala nang third branch of government. So, the question that will face the Filipino nation will be: If we want to keep an independent judiciary, should we grant the judiciary more tools for self-survival in addition to its moral authority because moral authority right now seems to be a very depressed tool in the fight among the three branches of government.

Do you agree with some opinions that this is worse than what happened during the martial law era?

We have to see this day-to-day. I cannot make predictions and neither can anyone else. It will all depend on the perspective the president takes of our tripartite democracy. He apparently believes in a very strong executive, and naturally the legislative and judicial branches feel that there is an ominous scenario coming on the horizon. That's what people feel when they see institutions are crumbling. Right now, the Supreme Court as an institution is under attack. So if President Aquino is successful, he would have been able to prevail with his theory of a powerful executive that is more powerful than the other two branches, which political scientists say is the situation already in democracies all over the world. We shall see if President Aquino succeeds, he will have in effect introduce the concept of a powerful, a super-executive.

Is this dangerous?

If you like conservatism, you will feel threatened by all of these developments.

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