CEBU

Tell it to SunStar: Follow precedent

SEARCHING for the definition of the word precedent in the web, I learned that it is a legal principle, created by a court decision, which provides an example or authority for judges deciding similar issues later.

If that is the main thrust of its legal definition, then why can’t people just follow precedent and apply to Senator Leila De Lima’s case what has happened to Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla and former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, when the three were detained at the Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame for plunder over alleged misuse of their pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)?

I am talking of course about a group composed of former senators and top government officials, including former President Benigno Aquino III, who earlier called on the Duterte administration to let De Lima fully discharge her duties as senator by attending plenary sessions.

This after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo Lacson have filed a resolution to allow De Lima to join Senate deliberations through teleconferencing.

One could not blame, therefore, Senator Revilla when he strongly expressed his disappointment and bitterness at his colleagues for trying to pave the way for De Lima to participate in the Senate deliberations from her cell.

Why, indeed, would De Lima be allowed to participate this time? What is so special about her, she who is also detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame for drug charges after being accused of accepting drug money from prisoners when she was justice secretary from 2010 and 2015?

Revilla even recalled that the Senate leadership, then headed by Drilon, did not think that the absence of three senators would impact legislation. He said letting de Lima participate in Senate sessions would be a “travesty” to the upper chamber, which does not have rules allowing senators who are not physically present to participate in legislative proceedings.

So, is this a case of sour grapes from someone seemingly less valued by his Senate peers compared to de Lima?

Maybe so, but more than anything else what Revilla wants to bring across is that that the scale of justice be kept even and steady because of a precedent.

One can never go wrong following a precedent that has been determined judiciously, accepted and recognized as authoritative.

Thus, this is not about De Lima’s absence in the Senate that “unduly deprives the 14 million Filipinos who voted for her their proper representation,” but rather about her alleged participation in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she still headed the Department of Justice that makes her unworthy to get involve in Senate proceedings in any manner, shape and form.


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