I put this advice to the Supreme Court in the imperative mood, in order to underscore the urgency, the gravity and the necessity for the Court to review or rehear its inconclusive and questionable ruling on the Grace Poe vs. Comelec disqualification case.
Some people say, in despair, that it is useless to complain, because the Supreme Court does not review or rehear a case, once it issues a ruling.
That is nonsense. To calm our deeply troubled nation and dispel the constitutional and political crisis rising before us, the High Court must review, revisit, rehear or repent this atrocious decision. It cannot claim that its verdict is final like the word of God. That would be contrary to all reason and justice, which essentially means doing the right thing.
Supreme Courts better and wiser than the Sereno Court have revisited cases and rewritten their decisions and doctrinal pronouncements.
To cite just one notable contemporary example, the US Supreme Court is currently rehearing for the fourth time its historic decision (in June 2015) on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, which divided America.
Uncle Sam’s Supremes did not say, We do not review our decisions. So why won‘t our Supremes do the same?
585 pages of penance
To earn the right to write my own opinion on the contested Supreme Court decision, I spent the whole of Holy Week reading and studying the SC decision and relevant literature on the controversy.
I painstakingly read the ponencia written by Justice Jose Portugal Perez, the concurring opinions of five justices, and the dissenting opinions of five justices, which all told totalled 585 legal-sized pages.
It was an ordeal, but I thought it was an acceptable burden and penance to take on in exchange for understanding the legal, human, and political issues surrounding this bewildering case of Grace Poe’s lust for the presidency.
Reading the almost 600 pages of legal opinions has been both a pleasant and rude discovery for me. Pleasant because this exercise has been an education in the law. Some of the opinions (the dissenting opinions, principally) are marked by fine writing and cogent argumentation.
But rude also, because the majority opinion of Justice Perez and the concurring opinions are marked by pedestrian writing, lazy reasoning, and glaring partisanship for Grace Poe.
Confused and confusing ruling
The exact ruling and the exact vote still remains to be clarified and explained. When Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno tried to explain the situation, she only made it more confused and confusing. Her claim of a 9-6 majority vote was bluntly exposed as a falsehood by dissenting justices. Justice Perez’s unbelievably weak and unconvincing ponencia only showed how divided the court is on the case.
The inconclusive ruling of the Sereno Court, which was billed at first by the Court’s spokesman and the media as favoring Senator Poe, was like a stake driven into the heart of the nation by politically-inspired justices.
The nation‘s reaction to the news was electric and angry. Where in past court decisions, the great majority of the people felt they were vindicated by their Supreme Court, this time the popular majority felt that they had been betrayed and let down by the Court.
Consequently, there are two petitions for the Court to review the disputed ruling.
One is the Motion for Reconsideration (MR) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which asked the Court last week to deliberate and vote anew on Grace Poe’s petition for certiorari. It said: “With due respect, the Court should reexamine its majority decision, for its legal and constitutional infirmities and, more importantly, for having heightened political passions in the country that could ignite civil strife. There is no factual or legal basis for the ruling that the petitioner is a qualified candidate in the May 9, 2016 national elections.”
For their part, the original petitioners (Elamparo, Tatad, Contreras and Valdez) also filed their own Motion for Reconsideration before the Court. They asked the Court to reverse the Perez ponencia and save the election from being thoroughly debased by Poe.
Their MR cited no less than eight specific errors in the Perez ponencia.
Justice Perez’s assertion that the Comelec has no authority to pass upon the constitutional qualifications of presidential candidates is a blatant misreading of the Constitution and a contravention of previous rulings of the Court, some of which Perez wrote himself.
Strangely, Perez also ruled that Susan Roces is a biological parent of Grace Poe. He validated Poe’s second birth certificate, which declared that Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces are her biological parents.
This means effectively that Grace Poe is “a woman who was born twice.”
Will the public believe that Susan is Poe’s mother? Can Tito Sotto and “Eat Bulaga” sell this crap to the public?
Naked challenge to the Constitution
The May elections should put to the test this total contempt for the electorate.
It’s not only the intelligentsia that is now questioning angrily the SC decision to allow Grace Poe to run.
Young people (the millennials) and the proverbial man on the street are now wondering aloud why the nation is going through all these contortions and acrobatics, for an ambitious woman whose identity is unknown, and whose Filipino citizenship is unproven.
We must deal with Grace Poe because she represents a naked and open challenge to our constitutional system, one that is financed by powerful business interests, who believe that they can buy the presidency.
If we do not stop this assault, our constitutional order could collapse, and the nation will list until it can find its mooring.
If Grace Poe succeeds in forcing her way into the balloting in May, the elections could be turned into a mockery as one justice has warned.
We are in this rut because the Supreme Court has momentarily lost its way.
John F. Kennedy said that “an error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”
Correcting the errors and averting the mistake is, in essence, the central message of the dissenting opinions in the SC decision. This I will tackle at length in my next column.