6 cases that could’ve gone the other way under a ‘Carpio court’ according to ex-CJ Panganiban

What if?

Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban thinks that at least five landmark decisions in the last seven years could have gone a different way if the appointing powers stuck to tradition an appointed the most senior magistrate as Chief Justice, specifically retired Justice Antonio Carpio.

Panganiban said that Carpio had five windows to be named CJ but his best chance was in 2012 when the Senate ousted then Chief Justice Renato Corona and then President Noy Aquino bypassed him, allegedly because of opposition from senators and business leaders, and picked Ma. Lourdes Sereno (who herself was ousted like Corona).

“What would have happened in the Court given that, though they have only one vote, chief justices have moral ascendancy? This is why, both here and in the United States, courts are named after their chiefs, like the Teehankee Court or the Warren Court (in the United States). Their ascendancy and leadership as primus inter pares (first among equals) is reflected in the major decisions during their terms,” said Panganiban in his Inquirer column.

Panganiban cited six cases from mid-2012 to Oct. 26, 2019 from “which he (Carpio) dissented, and which, as CJ, he could have won”:

1) Constitutionality of martial law (ML) in Mindanao, including the two, one-year extensions.

2) Natural-born citizenship case of Senator Grace Poe in the 2016 presidential eletion.

3) Burial of the remains of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

4) Acquittal of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of plunder.

5) Grant of bail to former senator Juan Ponce Enrile

6) Upholding Senator Leila de Lima’s arrest and detention.

“I wonder how many of these dissents could have become the decisions with him as CJ,” quipped Panganiban.

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