Jul 20, 2020 @ 13:03

Panganiban lists down top 4 baffling SC decisions, including GMA’s acquittal in plunder case

Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban believes the Supreme Court should do the right thing when it takes on the dozen cases questioning the Anti-Terror Act.

“By ruling on the constitutional issues head-on, the Court will show its determination to safeguard truth, fairness, and accountability, and its imperviousness to what I call the plague of ‘ships: kinship, relationship, friendship, and fellowship’,” said Panganiban in his column in the Inquirer.

“Yes, this is a great opportunity for the justices to be on the right side of history. Our people deserve a forthright decision that upholds the common weal and avoids perplexing dictums, “ he added.

Panganiban cites four cases that he believed the High Court magistrates failed to live up to their role as “conscience of society” and gave in to the mob:

1) “Raising of hands in barangay assemblies to ratify a Constitution” (Javellana v. Executive Secretary, March 31, 1973). Josue Javellana filed a class suit questioning then President Ferdinand Marcos’ abuse of authority when he created the Citizen Assemblies (barangays) to ratify the 1973 Constitution. The SC voted 4-2 with four abstentions declaring that while there was no valid ratification of Marcos’ “New Society”, there was “no further obstacle to the New Constitution being considered in force and effect.”

2) “Opening the party-list to every Juan, including the rich and the powerful” (Atong Paglaum v. Comelec, April 2, 2013). Panganiban described this as a “reversal” of Ang Bagong Bayani vs Comelec (June 26, 2001) that “the law crafted to address the peculiar disadvantages of the Payatas hovel dwellers cannot be appropriated by the mansion owners of Forbes Park.” He said then Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the ponente, convinced the majority of his colleagues that ““the party-list system is intended to democratize political power by giving political parties that cannot win in legislative district elections a chance to win seats in the House of Representatives.”

3) Identification of the main plunderer to sustain a prosecution for plunder (Arroyo v. People, July 19, 2016) Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was charged with plunder for signing “OK” on the alleged diversion of state lottery funds, was able to walk free after close to four years of hospital detention after the SC. Then Senior Justice Lucas P. Bersamin wrote “Such identification of the main plunderer was not only necessary because the law required [it], but also because it was essential in safeguarding the rights of all the accused to be properly informed of the charges they were being made answerable for.” It was Arroyo who appointed Panganiban as the 21st CJ in 2005. Panganiban played a key role in swearing in then vice president Arroyo as new president in 2001 following the ouster of then president Joseph Estrada.

4) Ousting of a chief justice via quo warranto (Republic v Sereno, May 11, 2018). Quo warranto cases are originally meant for election cheating cases but Solicitor General Jose Calida, who reckoned correctly that he had a better chance of getting his way with SC, used it to preempt Congress from exercising its sole power to initiate impeachment proceedings against then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

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