President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s attack on the Supreme Court (SC) did not sit well with Catholic bishops who advised him to accept the High Court’s ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Stressing that it is the judiciary that interprets the law “with definitiveness in the process of resolving justiciable issues,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged government leaders to respect the High Court’s unanimous ruling that the DAP is unconstitutional.
“We must respect the Supreme Court. Where there was error, there must be humble admission and immediate rectification,” CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said.
“The Rule of Law is a fundamental requirement, an objective condition, of the common good. That the Rule of Law at all times [is]safeguarded is therefore a moral concern. When the Rule of Law is compromised, the common good becomes its victim,” he added.
The CBCP issued the statement a day after Aquino questioned the SC decision on the DAP, insisting that the controversial disbursement program was “good.”
On the other hand, some bishops were saddened by the President’s open defiance of the SC ruling and urged him to respect the decision of the court.
“The end does not justify the means. His intention might be good but his means are unconstitutional. He should obey the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court,” Caloocan Bishop Francis de Leon said in an interview at the Church-run Radio Veritas.
Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco also urged the President not to belittle the wisdom of the magistrates.
“Our President should think twice in considering the SC decision, which was unanimous 13-0.We should not belittle the wisdom of our magistrates,” Ongtioco said.
The CBCP president said they are praying that national leaders “may truly be humble and respectful [of]the democratic institutions so that our most sacred freedoms and liberties are always upheld.”
Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon called on the public to support the SC as he expressed hope that the High Court will not be affected by the speech of the President.
“Normal lang na magpumilit si Ginoong Presidente na tama siya. Sana higpitan ng Supreme Court ang kanilang desisyon. Sa mga mamamayan, show support to the SC [It is but normal for the President to insist that he is right. I hope that the Supreme Court will tighten its decision. The people should show support to the SC],” he said.
The San Beda College Graduate School of Law dean, Father Ranhillo Aquino, also urged the President to stop bullying the High Court.
Aquino “is always a bully, he bullied [former Chief Justice Renato]Corona and [former Ombudsman Merceditas]Gutierrez, he knows the limit of his power but [he still resorts to bullying], he relies on his popularity with the people. He is not competent to bully the Supreme Court, he is not a student of law, if you disagree with the ruling, you can humbly and respectfully ask for a motion for reconsideration. But do not file a motion for reconsideration by sequestering radio and TV. Very clearly, he is trying to gain the support of the people,” the dean said.