The year 2013 will be remembered for the unparalleled natural disasters and allegations of massive corruption.
And the judiciary, which is working hard to push for reforms, was caught smack in the middle of the scandals.
The biggest decision made by the Supreme Court in 2013 had such great and overreaching impact that it rocked the legislature and the people alike.
The High Court changed an entire system in Congress when it ruled that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the pork barrel of lawmakers, is unconstitutional.
The decision, widely welcomed by a public fed up with reports of graft and corruption, left a number of lawmakers unhappy because, according to them, they were stripped of the power to help constituents seeking financial help.
By removing the discretionary fund granted to each member of the House of Representatives and Senate, the Court paved the way for the forging of a budget law devoid of pork, as can be seen in the General Appropriations Act for 2014.
If the misuse of the pork barrel through Janet Lim-Napoles had not been exposed, the pork barrel system would not have been abolished. But with the revelation of alleged massive corruption in Congress, only the scrapping of the pork barrel can soothe the rage that manifested in protest rallies.
The Napoles scam led to more discoveries of anomalies involving the release of public funds to bogus or questionable nongovernment organizations.
As 2013 came to a close, the Supreme Court was confronted with yet another big case with huge repercussions—the historic power rate increase.
Electric consumers and even lawmakers shocked by the P4.15 per kilowatt-hour rate rise imposed by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) had no recourse but to run to the Court to seek recourse.
A week after the power increase was questioned, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order that was welcomed as a Christmas gift by the petitioners.
The pork barrel and power rate hike petitions were not the only controversial issues that reached the judiciary.
It was also accused of having its own Janet Napoles because of the alleged questionable deals of a certain Arlene, who was reported to have influenced the decisions of some judges.
The Court of Appeals also had its own share of controversial cases, having frozen the bank accounts of the former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, and other personalities charged with graft and plunder in connection with the release of billions of pork barrel funds to groups controlled by Napoles.
Controversy shrouded even the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA), an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), when it paroled former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste, who was convicted for killing his friend and former associate.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd strongly objected to the parole and ordered Malacañang lawyers to study the possibility punishing the officials who made it possible.
Other issues that reached the Supreme Court included the electoral sabotage case filed against former President Gloria Arroyo, the presidential orders that proclaimed four individuals as National Artists, including director Carlo J. Caparas, creator of Panday, the highly controversial Reproductive Health Law, and the long-running case involving the coconut levy fund which the tribunal ruled were public funds.