Issue of December 3, 2017

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The spectacle of one Justice against the other

Those who often log into the Internet may have noticed that lately there have been a lot of articles about the consumption of alcohol and cancer. They dreadfully report that alcohol can cause cancer of the liver, colon, rectum, breast, oropharynx (whatever that is), larynx, skin, pancreas, etc.

Perhaps that is true. We have been buying alcohol for several decades. Now we also have cancer – cancer of the pocket. Naibus kwarta.

The reports also show that consumption of alcohol adversely affect the brain. It causes brain damage and impairment. Maybe that will also explain why after many decades of enjoying alcohol, we are starting to feel and become stupid.

Because of our stupidity we cannot blame anyone and we should be willing to accept what we deserve. And they also tell us that we get the government that we deserve.

And if we allow the establishment of a revolutionary government, we will also get what we deserve.

After repeatedly warning that he will declare a revolutionary government, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he does not want a revolutionary government. Why is it that very often we cannot understand what he exactly means?

That means we have really become stupid. Let’s drink to that na lang. Cheers!

* * * * * * * * * *

Members of the judiciary, especially those of higher courts like the Supreme Court, are often described as learned men and women who live in ivory towers away from the mundane realities and issues of daily life. That will often times explain “the silence of the judiciary about critical public issues.” The Supreme Court being the court of last resort responds only when its jurisdiction is invoked.

When justices publicly partake in the discourse of issues, outside the sacred halls of justice, these are on rare issues that affect the greater good of the nation and its citizenry. And these instances are exceptional and far between.

The best recent example could perhaps be the active public participation of Justice Antonio Carpio in the discourse on the West Philippine Sea issue and the Philippine claim, as he is one of the acknowledged experts on the matter. During the height of extra-judicial killings (EJK), then Chief Justice Reynato Puno also publicly steered the court and rallied the people towards the issuance of extraordinary writs to address the problem. This gave birth to the writs of amparo and habeas data and the public campaign against EJKs. Which is noticeably lacking from the present court.

In that context, not a few legal eyebrows were raised when a Supreme Court Justice decided to appear before the House of Representatives and testify against her Chief Justice, in the pending impeachment proceedings against the latter. It almost seemed like an ordinary instance of washing dirty linen in public.

The good Justice, of course, says that she does not want to put the Chief Justice down. According to her all she wanted was “to correct what she (CJ) has done.” Can that end be achieved in proceedings before the legislative where the obvious objective is not only to put the Chief Justice down, but to ultimately remove her from office? We do not understand the impeachment proceedings to be a proper venue, in aid of legislation, to correct administrative judicial imperfections.

Did Justice de Castro jump off the ivory tower in volunteering to testify against a fellow member of the judiciary who had bested her in the quest for the position of Chief Justice? It may be unfair, as some speculate, to think that she will be appointed Chief Justice if the current CJ is impeached. Even if her motives are not anchored on that reason, the direction is not clear.

When asked if what the Chief Justice had supposedly done was a violation of the Constitution sufficient to justify impeachment, she answered by saying “I decline to answer that question.”So what was it all about?

When a playful boy throws mud at his playmate and is asked if his playmate got dirty, perhaps he can also say “I decline to answer that question.”

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