SC resumes session after a week’s recess

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The Supreme Court (SC) will resume its regular sessions today after a week-long recess with controversial cases high on its agenda.

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It will hear petitions filed by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile; former President and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; various non-government organizations, party-list groups and an incumbent senator; a former congressman; and a gay rights advocate.

SC justices are ready to vote on Enrile’s petition to stop the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan from proceeding with his trial for plunder and corruption filed against him for his alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam.

This is separate from the senator’s petition for bail that the High Court will hear on June 23.

Enrile elevated his case before the SC against the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division for committing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

In particular, he asked the tribunal to junk a July 11, 2014 resolution issued by the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division that denied his motion for a Bill of Particulars.

Enrile cited Section 9, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court that states “The accused may, before arraignment, move for a Bill of Particulars to enable him properly to plead and prepare for trial.”

Arroyo asked the High Court to allow her to post bail on charges of plunder in connection with her alleged misuse of P366 million in intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office between January 2008 and June 2010.

She said the Sandiganbayan should not have junked her bail plea because her continued detention has resulted in the impairment of her health and she is not a flight risk.

The ponente of the case is Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza.

The petition of former Biliran congressman Glenn Ching asked the tribunal to stop reuse of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, which were used in past polls, in the May 2016 elections.

There are five petitions against the government K-to-12 program embodied in Republic Act 10533.

They were filed by Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list; Representatives Neri Colminares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list; Anakpawis part-list Rep. Fernando Hicap; Gabriela party-list Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus; Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon; and Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th.

Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. is the ponente of the cases against the K-to-12 program, which adds two years to the country’s 10-year basic education curriculum.

In his petition, self-confessed gay man, Jesus Nicardo Falcis 3rd, asked the High Court to rule as null and void Executive Order 209 or the Family Code of the Philippines.

In particular, he questioned Articles 1 and 2, which “define and limit marriage as between man and woman.”

Falcis said such provisions are discriminatory and tend to violate homosexuals’ right “to found a family” as protected under Section 3 (1) of the 1987 Constitution.

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