IN the pursuit for justice and fairness in our politics, I like to think we are in the midst of a situation that is quite difficult to make heads or tails about. Our political condition seems so perplexing to the average constituent I cannot imagine how things will turn out in May when they go out and vote for the first time in an automated election under the watchful eye of a politicized Supreme Court and harassed Comelec.
I am watching with amused interest, for instance, how Comelec will unravel the confusion set by the recent Supreme Court decision declaring Tining Martinez of Bogo as winner in a protested 2007 congressional elections based on supposed 5,000 stray votes.
I would not indicate doubt against the SC decision on the Martinez-Ben-hur Salimba-ngon case had the court not made a highly political decision that went against the grain of a traditional judicial practice in the case involving 16 new cities. A dissenting opinion by an SC member noted that when the vote on a case results in a tie, like the 6-6 vote of the “16 cities” petition, it should be taken as a denial of the petition.
But the Supreme Court interpreted the tie vote not as a denial, but in favor of the petitioner. A dissenting justice said that overturning the judicial tradition is setting a bad precedent that may lead to confusion. Those involved in case previously decided under the traditional notion of the tied vote taken as denial, might seek reconsideration. Such would wreak havoc on our judicial system.
It is a situation that, to my mind, weakens the public trust in the SC. It is troubling, though, since it has always been thought that the judiciary is the last bastion of justice in a democracy. When the country’s judicial system has been rendered fallible and untrustworthy, then what kind of democracy do we have? What may result could be a dictatorship that in the long run may spawn anarchy and lawlessness. I do not want to hazard a guess of what might become of this republic.
And then there is the disqualification case against convicted plunderer and former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada who, granted an unconditional pardon, decided to run for president again in the belief that the presidential pardon has cleansed him of criminal stain on his person. The Comelec, in a recent decision, declared him qualified to run again. But former president Fidel Ramos said that the Comelec decision was not yet final, and the SC still have to rule on it. But can we have SC assessment of the case?
That is only on court cases. We are not talking yet of candidates, and candidacies.