Round 1 to the administration-A A +A
Sunday, November 20, 2011
IT LOOKS like the Supreme Court (SC) dominated by appointees of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lost this phase of its continuing tug-of-war with Malacañang regarding the fate of the former president. The Aquino administration got what the SC majority valiantly tried to prevent: block the flight of Mrs. Arroyo out of the country. She is now in the custody of the executive department.
The eight Arroyo-appointed SC justices who pushed for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the inclusion of Arroyo and her husband Miguel in the watch-list order of the Department of Justice (DOJ) must be smarting from their defeat.
Malacañang, through the Commission on Elections (Comelec), wisely took from these justices’ hands the power to decide on whether to allow the Arroyos to leave or not by filing the electoral sabotage case against the former president.
One can criticize the seeming haste with which Comelec officials filed the case and the Pasay Regional Trial Court issued the warrant of arrest against the former president but I take it within the context of one-upmanship. No matter how much the Arroyo camp may rave and rant, the fact remains that they lost in the maneuvering. And the eight justices who wanted Arroyo to leave know this.
I expect the SC majority, therefore, to hit back hard at the Aquino administration.
The easiest target would be Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who ably represented Malacañang in the skirmish brought about by the court’s issuance of the TRO. She could be cited with contempt of court for refusing to allow the Arroyos to leave. But if the SC majority does it, they will only be making a martyr out of the justice secretary.
Which brings out one other important point. While lawyers have lambasted Malacañang for its intransigence by refusing to honor the TRO, public opinion is also going against the Arroyo-appointed majority in the SC. If the perception that the SC majority is coddling the former president remains, then they should be wary of the deluge. This is important considering that the Arroyo camp, noting their recent victories in the SC, is expected to go to the High Court ever so often from now on.
I thought I am the only one who doesn’t like Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez.
The man is also head of the SC’s Public Information Office and is thus tasked to face the media to clarify some of the tribunal’s recent moves. I sometimes find the man’s demeanor smug. He makes the SC look arrogant.
It has turned out that even Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno does not like the man, or at least in how he interpreted the High Court’s ruling upholding its issuance of the TRO against the inclusion of the Arroyos in the DOJ watch-list order. Sereno, an appointee of President Noynoy Aquino, told Marquez:
“The Court Administrator-cum-Acting Chief of the PIO is hereby advised to be careful not to go beyond his role in such offices, and that he has no authority to interpret any of our judicial issuances, including the present resolution, a function he never had from the beginning.”
In her nine-page dissent to the majority’s decision, Sereno contended that the Arroyos failed to comply with one condition the SC set so the TRO will be in effect. The unmet condition? That “the petitioners shall appoint a legal representative common to both of them who will receive subpoena, orders, and other legal processes on their behalf during their absence.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 21, 2011.