Sunday, January 01, 2012

Reason and Concern

by Ronquillo C. Tolentino

Notes On Judicial Independence

On December 11, 2011 and just fresh from my December 6-8, 2011 attendance at the 29th Biennial Philippine Red Cross national convention, I tried to have a sequel to my earlier column titled “President Aquino’s lashing at the High Court” which I emailed to Madyaas Pen.

My perception to write more about the judiciary, specifically quoting Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. titled “The Rule of Law Support and Advancement: The Philippine Experience delivered at the Helmley Hotel, New York in April 2009 sponsored by the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group assisted by the Rule of Law Unit, was overtaken by events. For on the night of December 12, 2011, Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached

The former chief justice who was then Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations asserted that “the judiciary is the protector of the rights and freedoms of the people, the last bulwark of democracy, and the guardian of the Rule of Law. Hence, at all times it must be truly independent, discharge its duties effectively and efficiently, and maintain public confidence. Pursuit of excellence demands that judges and court personnel are not only qualified, competent, and men of honesty and integrity; they must perform their duties with passion and dedication to fulfill the public trust character of their office.”

Davide claimed that he started his tenure with a vision – mission statement embodied in a document entitled : “THE DAVIDE WATCH : LEADING THE PHILIPPINE JUDICIARY AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION TOWARDS THE THIRD MILLENIUM” It became the vision – mission for the Philippine Judiciary.”

It envisions a judiciary that is independent, effective and efficient and worthy of public trust and confidence and a legal profession that provides quality, ethical, accessible and cost-effective legal service to the people and is willing and able to answer the call to public service. It declares that the administration of justice must be geared to achieve the goal of delivering fair, impartial, and swift justice. Hence, the core values of the rule of law, equal justice, judicial independence, and the pursuit of excellence should be preserved and at all times be predominant”, Davide emphasized.

As I write this, there are already three petitions before the Supreme Court of the Philippines questioning the legality of Corona’s impeachment. The third petition - a petition for certiorari and prohibition has asked the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injuction to stop the Senate at conducting hearings on the impeachment case vs. Corona.

A few Aklan lawyers I met on December 14, 2011 at the Regional Trial Court of Aklan commented at the too fast approval of the Articles of Impeachment on December 12, 2011 claiming that the impeachment complaint may be questioned. While there was no open discussion among Aklan lawyers, it now stands that the third petition before the high court alleged that Section 3, Art. XI of the Constitution was not followed as it breached the process prescribed.

Happy New Year To all! /MP

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