Lack of respect for the Law-A A +A
Thursday, October 20, 2011
HOLLYWOOD actor Jackie Gleason, in his portrayal of Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Burt Reynolds’ 1977 movie blockbuster “Smokey and the Bandit”, summed it all up in his famous one-liner: “What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.” This quote is just about apt to describe the relationship between the Supreme Court and Malacañang.
As we all know, things began to sour up between P-Noy and the Chief Justice when the former fired the first salvo when he declared that he will not take his oath before the latter when he assumes office. So the first act that P-Noy did even before becoming president was to subject Chief Justice Renato C. Corona to the ultimate humiliation of taking his oath before an associate justice of the Supreme Court in the presence of the Chief Justice.
Such utter defiance of intra-constitutional courtesy between the Executive and the Judiciary will go down in history as the unprecedented “Presidential Snub.”
Remember how awkward Justice Corona must have felt when he had to agonize throughout the ceremony. His discomfiture was very evident but he remained in proper decorum through it all.
We had been taught in Constitutional Law that the three co-equal and independent branches of government must treat each other with comity. My constitutional law professor, Ma’m Lily Uy-Valencia, was very erudite when she succinctly emphasized that, while each branch may be independent of each other, it must be remembered that each branch is complementary of the other. It is rather more of an “inter-dependence” between the three. As matters stand, P-Noy chose to antagonize the Judiciary by embarrassing the Chief Justice. That’s Strike 1!
Strike 2! Returning the favor, the Supreme Court struck down the much ballyhooed Truth Commission as being unconstitutional. Remember that this Administration was anchoring its credibility on this commission only to be derailed by the High Court. It seems that Malacañang hasn’t gotten over its crushing defeat before the Judiciary.
Strike 3! Apparently, Malacañang now wants to get even by holding the Judiciary hostage when it slashed the 2011 Budget for the Judiciary by holding on to its savings through the DBM. Definitely, this is an affront to the Fiscal Autonomy of the Judiciary guaranteed by the Constitution. By no means of the imagination can this be interpreted in any other way. The palace apologists are even courting contempt by their impudent pronouncements against the Supreme Court.
One of my professors in law school once said – “The Supreme Court may not always be right, but it can never be wrong.” This is the bulwark of all constitutional democracies. But now that the battle lines had been drawn, we can only shudder at the thought on what will happen to this forlorn country of ours.
When the last bastion of Law and Order is being pilloried by no less than the highest office in the land, what will stop the lawless elements of our society from joining the fray? What we have now is an administration which has total lack of respect for the rule of law!
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 20, 2011.