Justices skipping SC flag raising may be impeached: lawyer-A A +A
Monday, September 24, 2012
MANILA -- Supreme Court magistrates who continue to snub the weekly flag-raising ceremony are not only setting a bad example to students as they can also be ousted from office for violating the Philippine Flag Law, a lawyer said Monday.
In a statement, Romulo Macalintal said Section 18 of Republic Act 8491 requires all government offices and educational institutions to observe the flag-raising ceremony every Monday morning.
"Their repeated and deliberate absences from the flag raising rites, which the law compels them to attend, may constitute betrayal of public trust, which is a ground for impeachment," he said.
SC justices can only be removed from office if convicted by the Senate impeachment just like in the case of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, whose misdeclared cash assets made him guilty of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Since taking over the leadership of the judiciary in late August, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was joined by only few justices in the weekly rites as senior colleagues like Justice Antonio Carpio never bothered to attend.
On Monday, only Associate Justice Jose Perez, Philippine Judicial Academy Chancellor retired Justice Adolfo Azcuna, and Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) member retired Justice Regino Hermosisima, Jr.were present aside from Sereno at the SC grounds in Manila.
Observers say the apparent boycott was in connection with Sereno's elevation to the highest post in the Supreme Court despite being one of the junior members of the 15-man tribunal.
Her appointment by President Benigno Aquino III effectively dashed ambitions of other justices who looked up to the seniority tradition in the SC.
Meantime, Macalintal said there is no reason for the justices to skip the flag-raising since it even issued Circular 62-2001 on September 21, 2001, which directs the attendance of all lower court judges and court personnel in the rites.
"If the justices of the Supreme Court could compel lower courts and their personnel to comply with the Flag Law and be penalized for non-compliance therewith, there is no reason why the justices should be exempt from any punishment should they continue disregarding the law mandating them to attend the regular Monday flag ceremony," he said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)