• SC: Supreme Court or Super Congress?

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    A believer in Malcolm’s “to doubt is to sustain,” I submit that the unelected Supreme Court, with all due respect, should not act like a Super Congress reviewing wholesale the work of the elected legislature and chief executive. On libel and the Anti-Cybercrime law (R.A. No. 10175), who was the proper party in an actual case or controversy to justify a pakyaw review by the unelected of the work of the elected?

    Malcolm’s “to doubt is to sustain” is passe? And so is Holmes saying “general propositions do not decide concrete cases”?

    Each actual case or controversy, involving a real party-in-interest, presents its own set of problems, nuances and equities. And it is not as if our SC, like the U.S.’s, does not have a clogged docket. Seldom is a U.S. case in one term (from October to June) carried over to the next.

    And when will our SC (Supreme Court or Super Congress) decide with absolute finality the case of Lenny Villa, killed on February 11, 1991? Or more than 23 years ago.

    My client, Zos Mendoza, and 19 others are being subjected to Multiple Jeopardy (twice acquitted by the Court of Appeals a decade or so ago and once by the SC, on February 1, 2012, why is the latter entertaining a motion to reconsider? I thought acquittal is immediately final, unappealable and executory.) This case has been in the SC for years and the SC should decide it, not a case that is not there.

    In any case, in this millennium, our progressive, liberal appellate courts fine but do not impose jail time for libel. Only a fine. Prudent.

    Indeed, in a decision in a libel case filed against Ninez Cacho Olivares in Vigan, last December 16, Judge Cecilia Corazon S. Dulay-Arcog dismissed it on our Demurrer to Evidence (motion to dismiss filed after the prosecution rests, without presenting any evidence).

    Ninez is our suki in various press freedom cases, including two in the Supreme Court where I orally argued for her in 1982 and in 2007.

    Gutsy, she has long learned to live in a hardy climate dominated by politicians. What may be noteworthy here is that it was Chavit Singson who had sued Ninez in his hometown. Judges often reflect the local power situation. (Chavit, Ninoy Aquino lauded to me as gutsy.)

    Judges and Justices massage or stroke the media but it should not be by deciding a case that is not there. One case that is there is naming Madame Lina Castillo-Sarmiento head of the human tights compensation Board. R.A. No. 10368, Sec. (b), wisely requires that a member of the Board must “have a deep and thorough … involvement errorts agamst human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos”.

    So far the Palace has not answered our question on such involvement on her part, if any. Secret? “Basta!” I did read the Board members’ letter to the editor in the Inquirer the other day. What I did not see was an assertion that they all satisfy the quoted “involvement” requirement.

    We deserve better. The requirement sounds mandatory but what is to stop this unpredictable se from saying that the requirement isn’t, but merely directory? The SC should teach PNoy to follow the Rule of Law. Praiseworthy.

    A Pinoy is rightly praised for his Winter Olympics finish. But, let us not get carried away. He finished far out of the gold, silver or bronze. In the Oscars, we have a more glorious story. A Pinoy won.

    That is why I am puzzled why no greater recognition has been given our London Olympics gold medalist (two golds) in 1948, in London. Last May 4 was able to walk through the two-acre San Francisco park named Victoria Manalo Dravies Park, named after the London gold medalist (two). I was in grade school then but I never read an account of her true roots (her father was a musikero from Drani, Bataan where she visited and connected a decade ago, to parochial, but not national, acclaim) 1948 was an innocent time. No talk of substance abuse.

    Anyway, as we have criminalized, debatably toxic, marijuana here, should also we criminalize, definitely toxic, smoking?

    “Senators try ‘scare tactics’ via graphic labels to curb smoking” Manila Standard Today, Mar. 4, 2014, p. 13, col. 1. Scaring is national policy?

    May government wage a scare and shame campaign against tax cheats (BIR’s Kim Henares), adulteresses (Puritan New England’s Scarlet Letter’s Hester Prynne), minorities like Jews (Hitler’s Yellow Star), cowards in the military (British White Feathers), Spray Paint re Drugs (Fred Lim) and Wet Rags re sidewalk vendors (BF Fernando)?

    Do these not violate basic human and constitutional rights on dignity and presumption of innocence?

    And the right not to speak, not to incriminate oneself – honored in the U.S. Congress (“pleading the Fifth”) but in ours, the guest is made to check that right at the entrance – reminiscent of the Inquisition and Cardinal Torquemada. One is made the tool of his own condemnation and ruination, representing the best thinking of the middle ages.

    Senators and Congressmen, this is 2014. Less theatre, more substance.

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    3 Comments

    1. bisaya kobay on

      all the more that the sc should do this especially now that more movie stars, sports stars, businessmen, corrupt, don’t-know-the-law, realtors, insane, military, church-people, and simply the uneducated have entered the once venerable and respectable halls of congress