In a pawnshop case ACCRA Law and I fought in, both of us were frustrated when the Supreme Court (SC) refused to give us copies of certain rulings. Secret rulings! Josme!
In the time of Marcos, secret decrees. So MABINI, with iconic Tanny Tanada and Abe Sarmiento, went to the SC which ordered, in April 1985, the administration to publish any decree to be effective. But, where do we take the SC? In Samuel Ong (gone to the Promised Land) v. Office of the President, G.R. No. 184219, ACCRA Law groused, in May 2008, in an Opposition in a case we eventually settled, “that the said decision is not among those that are published and made available commercially and is also not included in electronic databases, such as Lex Libris.” It is not unusual for one to receive a reso that “considering that X is not a party to a case, to DENY his request for copies of decisions or resolutions.” For crying out loud!
The SC is not autonomous from the sovereign people. But, it is even more secretive when it comes to the Justices’ Statements of Assets, etc., thus frustrating our legislative intent of seeing movements in fortunes and detecting conflicts of interests.
My norm in public life (1987-92) was openness and transparency; with public money, not to wait to be asked to account, say when given an allowance for foreign travel, and to return the excess. When asked, it seems to me the response should be, “Here it is, what else can I do for you?” Hence, the fear during the days of Chief Justice (CJ) Jun Davide that Judiciary Development Fund money stripped from the hides of litigants, went to curtains, cars, foreign travel, mansions in Baguio, etc., instead of the purposes in Sec. 3 of P.D. No. 1949 (local infrastructure and personnel benefits, where collected); the apprehension is reinforced by the snubbing of the House hearing on the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) last Tuesday. Nalustay? The PD mandates quarterly reporting to all executive judges but the Commission on Audit and the SC have not been doing so. Ask the nearest Executive Judge, and weep.
Accounting is not premature nor inappropriate, it seems to me. Congress has the power of the purse and the solons are representing the people of the Philippines. Accounting to the House is accounting to the sovereign people who must wonder, “ano ang itinatago?”
In our scofflaw nation, it is not only the Supreme Court. We get the sense reading the papers that Janet Napoles and Gigi Reyes are being held in isolation, incommunicado, bartolina. I have asked my studes to try to get a copy of the Resolution dated June 21, 1984 in In re Petition for Habeas Corpus of Jose Ma. Sison, Juliet Sison v. Enrile, et al., G.R. No. 65945.
There, on the Motion to relieve petitioner Jose Ma. Sison from what he terms his “’solitary confinement,’ the [SC] directed the respondents to keep the petitioner in a detention area, not necessarily the Bicutan Rehabilitation Center, where he may have the opportunity to associate with other persons under detention, . . . Abad Santos, J., submitted the following; ‘I believe that Jose Ma. Sison, should be allowed wider contacts than is now permitted. . . . Sison, guilty or not, is a human being and human beings are social creatures. It is not enough that his wife and son are allowed to visit him three days each week; he should be able to talk to others, if he wants to, everyday of the week so as to stimulate his mind and keep it from getting atrophied. Anything less is not only cruel but also unusual punishment. `[T]here should be no restraint in the market place of ideas absent any showing of a clear and present danger to public safety.’ “
Our Bill of Rights says in Art. III, Sec. 12 (2) “. . . [S]olitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.”
No matter how one may regard Janet, “[i]t is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed [in the Constitution].” United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 59 (1950).
We have to upgrade the quality of all our prisons, instead of democratizing misery and oppression.
The late Justice Isagani Cruz once moved me in dedicating a free copy of a book of his, “to a brilliant lawyers of lost causes, from a fellow loser.” Some of the worthiest causes are the lost ones. So PNoy lost the DAP case and moved to reconsider, SOP for the losing side. But, why did winner Harry Roque, our esteemed Compañero also so moved? He filed a 25-page Motion to Partial Reconsideration which our sabong journalists have not mentioned. I am reminded of the client who, told that “justice has prevailed,” retorted, “move to reconsider at once!” Seriously, pork is not toxic per se, put to good use in the US, which also invented or popularized the auto. I lost my ever-loving wife in a vehicular incident but I won’t propose banning vehicles.
BTW, if you are not a party, not to bother going to the Supreme Court for a copy of what Harry filed for Greco Antonious Beda B. Belgica. I am comfy with anyone named Beda. May I take this chance to laud the four Bedans in Mendiola and Alabang, Top Tenners in the last CPA exams. We were only No. 2. No. 1 came from a relatively obscure school in Leyte, once more validating that there is no bad school for a good stude and no good school for a bad one. Indeed, most of the thirteen (there were ties) topnotchers may be said to be Promdis, save the four from Mendiola and Alabang (plus one from PUP). No. 1 is from Leyte’s Asian Development Foundation College.
The other night, on EWTN, I saw a Knights of Columbus meet in the US where it was shown how the KCs there have helped Yolanda victims. I also note how the Iglesia ni Cristo has helped. What about our local Catholic Church? It seems what we read about and see is many priests telling the Prez to step down. But, he has fewer than 700 days to go. Can we not wait to hear All the Saints Go Marching In?
We just had the SONA, the State of the National Attire. I lauded Macoy’s banning the society page, now back with a vengeance. I miss FM in this context.