September 25, 2023

Surprising things have been happening lately. First, is the judge who thought he was still in his home territory. He illegally parked his car and promptly got apprehended with his license plates removed. He apparently considered that a mortal sin against someone feeling privileged.
Personally, we were never in favor of the unilateral removal of license plates. But then the judge should have done what we failed to do a long time ago, and that is to test the validity of the practice of removing license plates before the proper courts. It had once been tested, but in a decision limited to Metro Manila.
Instead, the judge went back home, and in the comfort and safety of his court, issued a subpoena to the law enforcement officers who removed his license plate. We understand that he would later withdraw the subpoena he unilaterally issued and may now be seeking channels of communication to city officials who are obviously pissed off with him.
A subpoena is supposed to be a remedy to secure the attendance of witnesses to a pending court or other proceeding. It is an incident to a pending principal action.
The order of the court that we saw on the Internet shows that the subpoena was issued for an alleged charge for indirect contempt. Under the law, indirect contempt is initiated by a written charge, furnished to the respondents. Then the respondents are given the opportunity to comment. The issuance of a subpoena may hardly be the way provided by the rules.
And again, the rules state that a subpoena is effective only if the witness who is summoned resides within 100 kilometers from the court issuing a subpoena. The last we checked, Baguio is some 153 kilometers from the judge rules supreme. The Baguio officers did not have to comply.
Initially, Larry Gacayan and I could not find the name of the judge in the official roll of lawyers. Our search showed that he was not in the Supreme Court list and another list in the Internet. Subsequently someone discovered his name and forwarded it to us. Strange that he was not in the lists that we examined. This mistakenly led Larry and I to initially suspect he was some fake lawyer and therefore a fake judge.

Then we heard that the City Council declared the judge as persona non grata in Baguio. We hope that move was studied well, with all bases covered.
The last time someone was declared persona non grata by a local government, we quickly filed anti-graft cases against the council members who passed it, and the mayor who approved it and they were ordered suspended by the court. This was when journalist Jimmy Laking was declared persona non grata by the municipal officials of La Trinidad. To the relief of everyone, the case was subsequently settled.
The present case may be different only in the sense that the one who was declared persona non grata is a judge. If the measure was meant to be some administrative or disciplinary action, it may run against the constitutional rule that only the Supreme Court has initial jurisdiction to discipline a member of the judiciary.

Finally, the Supreme Court has ruled on ancestral lands in Baguio. It was some sort of a valedictory from retiring Justice Antonio Carpio, who admittedly may be the best Chief Justice we never had.
It looks like Baguio is somehow the favorite subject of valedictory decisions of retiring Justices of the Supreme Court. When Justice Samuel Martires retired from the Supreme Court, his valedictory Baguio decision dealt with the Busol watershed.
He ruled against the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and in favor of the city’s action in protecting Busol as the “source of a basic necessity of the people of Baguio and other neighboring communities.” Justice, now Ombudsman, Martires wrote that: “Any danger to the sustainability of the Busol Water Reserve affects not only individuals or families inside the watershed but also the entire community relying on it as a source of a basic human necessity – water.” “The preservation of the Busol Forest Reserve involves public interest as it would have a significant impact on the water supply for the City of Baguio.”
Justice Carpio now comes, and his Baguio “valedictory” is also a push back against the NCIP. He upholds what is written in the Indigenous People’s Right Act, that the city, with certain exceptions, is exempt from the coverage of the IPRA law and therefore the NCIP has no legal authority to issue Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles and Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles in Baguio. Baguio shall remain to be governed by its Charter.

Incidentally, the town of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur has opened a search for Miss Narvacan 2019, in connection with its town fiesta from Dec. 8 to 14. The contest has been made expressly open, also to those coming from the Ilocos region, Baguio, and the rest of the Cordillera.
Some people have expressed concern as to why Baguio and the rest of the Cordillera are included. They blame this on the vice mayor of Narvacan, who perhaps mistakenly think that Baguio and the rest of the Cordillera is included within the jurisdiction of Narvacan.