SC spokesman to justice: Don't shoot the messenger

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

SUPREME Court (SC) spokesman and court administrator Jose Midas Marquez defended Sunday his responsibility to inform the public about rulings of the court, even if they are unpopular decisions.
In a statement, Marquez reacted to a dig of SC Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in her dissenting opinion for him to stop interpreting court decisions, following the latter's announcement on Friday that the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the court in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stays "in full force and effect."

This, despite the supposed non-compliance of the Arroyo camp in the conditions cited by the SC before a certification allowing their travel is issued.
Marquez insisted that the SC being a collegial body, took a vote of 8-5, with the majority allowing Arroyo to travel abroad to seek medical treatment for her hypoparathyroidism and metabolic bone mineral disorder.
Sereno joined the dissenting justices, but claimed that contrary to Marquez's interpretation, "it was the understanding of a majority that the TRO is 'suspended pending compliance' with our earlier resolution. The operational ineffectivity of the TRO is implied -- for it is a basic principle that the failure of petitioners to comply with one of the conditions in the resolution dated November 15, 2011 is a jurisdictional defect that suspends, at the least, the effectivity of the TRO."
However, Marquez pointed out that Sereno's opinion did not get the majority vote, thus "the public must not be led to believe that the dissenting view is the controlling view."
"While it may be repeatedly publicized and broadcasted by those who agree with it, it remains a minority view. The majority view always prevails and must be complied with," he said.
Marquez said that in the recent issuance of a TRO by the majority in the twin cases concerning the Arroyo couple, the Court, on a vote of 7-6, held that while petitioners' initial compliance may not have been substantial, there was no need to suspend the effectivity of the TRO pending their subsequent supplemental compliance. 
"This is the majority view, and as spokesperson of the High Court, this is what I announced," he added.
Marquez said while he appreciated the reminder from Sereno to be more careful in announcing the rulings of the court, he said he was merely doing his duty of putting across the message of the majority justices in their decisions.
Marquez also insisted that in his two decades of service in the SC, and five years as court spokesman, he is well aware that he has "no authority to interpret any of (the) judicial issuances, including the present Resolution, a function (I) never had from the beginning."
"But please understand that as spokesperson, I too have a very important obligation to the media and the public, that they clearly understand the decision of the Court. The decision may not always be popular, but that is the decision of the Court, taking into consideration the rule of law. So please don't shoot the messenger," he said. (JCV/Sunnex)

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