Supreme Court (SC) justices were unfazed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s tirades against the tribunal’s ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as they vowed to uphold “the rule of law,” not “the rule of men.”
The SC did not issue a statement on the President’s speech on Monday night that challenged the High Court’s ruling on the DAP, but sources at the tribunal on Tuesday said the justices believe that their unanimous decision declaring the spending program unconstitutional is right.
SC spokesman Theodore Te told reporters that the “SC has no comment on the President’s speech yesterday [Monday].”
But sources told The Manila Times that the justices discussed Aquino’s attack on the SC during their en banc deliberations on Tuesday. The magistrates vowed to perform their mandate “against all odds” because they believe that they have done nothing wrong, the sources said.
“The court will do its job and wait for the motion for reconsideration,” one source told The Times. “They will let the rule of law prevail, not the rule of men,” he added.
In their deliberations on Tuesday, the justices were one in saying that they will not be moved by the President’s threats because through their DAP ruling, the SC was able to protect government funds and the interest of the people, the source said.
In his speech defending the DAP on Monday, Aquino warned of a collision between the executive and the judiciary, saying a “third party” may have to intervene if such a clash occurs.
The source said the SC is “solid” in its DAP ruling and that the justices will not be swayed in their stand even if some of the members of the court were appointed by Aquino.
Four of the SC justices are Aquino appointees—Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas Bernabe and Marvic Leonen. The remaining 10 justices were appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Justices Presbitero Velasco, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Martin Villarama, Jose Perez and Jose Mendoza.
“Mas solid ang Supreme Court ngayon [The SC is more solid now],” the source told The Times.
“There are no more Arroyo or Aquino appointees. It is the institution, the Supreme Court, which must be protected,” the source said.
He added that the magistrates vowed to act “as magistrates” when the government will file its motion for reconsideration.
But former senator Joker Arroyo said the President “practically declared a state of war with the High Court.”
The former lawmaker, the Executive Secretary of the late former President Corazon Aquino, said the President is out to discredit the judiciary.
“As the picture looks presently, the President’s policy is to discredit the judiciary and render it impotent, subjugate Congress and make the President supreme. Yet by his oath of Office, the President is duty-bound to preserve and defend the Constitution,” Arroyo added.
He noted that before Aquino addressed the nation on Monday, “the administration took pains to establish a massive encirclement attack on High Court.”
“Congress has threatened to eliminate the Judicial Development Fund [JDF] of the Supreme Court to impair its constitutionally guaranteed fiscal autonomy. The COA [Commission on Audit] has published the individual Justices’ earnings to embarrass them. The BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] has recently issued a Memo Order designed to tax a hitherto untaxable additional income of employees of the judiciary from JDF,” Arroyo explained.
He said the President, in challenging the SC ruling on the DAP, also questioned the justices’ “collective capacity and integrity.” That stance of the President, Arroyo
added, “undermines the Supreme Court.”
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara doubted that the SC will reverse its ruling on the DAP.
“President Aquino has been always passionate in his positions. But I will be surprised if the Supreme Court will reverse its decision, considering that it was unanimously signed,” he told reporters also on Tuesday.
“I support the President when he was executing and distributing the DAP, but now, I have changed that position, after the SC handed down its ruling,” the senator said.
With report from Lulu Principe