• SC justices issue draft opinions, DAP ruling nears

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    THE Supreme Court (SC) is moving towards a decision on the controversial Disbursement Alleviation Program (DAP) of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    The debate on the issue has been set on June 3, 2014, the resumption of the session of the High Court after a month-long recess or what they called their decision writing-month.

    According to a well-placed source of The Manila Times, draft separate opinions are now being circulated among the magistrates.

    It was learned that two SC Justices circulated their draft opinions with their fellow justices on the DAP case.

    Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio circulated his draft opinion as early as the summer session of the high court in Baguio City in April.

    SC Justice Arturo Brion has also circulated his draft opinion on the contending issues of the controversial ruling.

    The source said the justices are very eager to push the immediate decision of the case since Carpio and Brion with their separate opinions even before the ponencia was released.

    The Carpio and Brion opinions were circulated ahead of the ponencia of Justice Lucas Bersamin.

    This was one of the few occasions in the SC, that separate opinions were circulated ahead of the draft ponencia.

    Carpio, Brion and Bersamin are known in the bench and the bar as the “bright lights” in the high court because of their brilliant minds.

    The three magistrates were all topnotchers in the bar examinations.

    Brion placed 1st during the 1974 bar exams, Carpio placed 6th during the 1975 bar exams while Bersamin placed 9th during the 1973 bar exams.

    Only 13 out of the 15 justices are expected to vote on the DAP case.

    Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro inhibited herself from ruling on the case while Associate Justice Roberto Abad retired last May 22.

    If the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) makes a shortlist before the DAP case is voted upon, it will be immediately forwarded to Malacañang for the Presidenr to make his 5th appointee to the high court.

    The Constitution gives President Benigno Aquino 3rd 90 days from today to appoint Abad’s replacement.

    The candidates are Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justices Nina Antonio-Valenzuela, Apolinario Bruselas, Rosmari Carandang, Stephen Cruz, Ramon Paul Hernando,

    Jose Reyes Jr., and Noel Tijam and CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr.; Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo and Rafael Lagos; Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza; Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan and COA Commissioner Ma. Rowena Guanzon; regional trial court Judge Reynaldo Daway; and Dean Jose Manuel Diokno of the College of Law of the De La Salle University.

    The vote of the next Aquino appointee will be vital for the Palace since it could be a “swing vote” to attain its victory.

    At present, Aquino has four appointees in the high court namely: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno, Associate Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen.

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