Seares: ‘Inordinate’ in martial law petition

THE word “inordinate” became controversial and popular, or infamous, when it was used with the word “delay.” The term “inordinate delay” was given to the precept employed by the Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court, to dismiss many high-profile cases of corruption.

“Inordinate,” as any standard dictionary will tell, means “too many or too great, immoderate or excessive.” Along with the constitutional principle that justice delayed is justice denied, the anti-graft court threw out delayed cases in such number and speed that it alarmed the ombudsman. A well-intentioned rule is apparently being abused.

Ombud petition

Which prompted the ombudsman to file a petition with the Supreme Court to suspend “inordinate- delay” dismissals until the high court’s guidelines are clarified and, yes, tightened.

The problem, the ombudsman notes in its petition dated March 23, is that the Sandiganbayan may have “missed the nuances” in the operation of prosecution agencies in investigating and preparing indictments. There’s a “dissonance” between the SC guidelines and their implementation by Sandiganbayan.

A polite way of saying the anti-graft court may have violated guidelines or gone around them to enable accused persons to go scot-free without hearing evidence. Not explicitly raising the suspicion that it is probably being used as source of corruption but a skeptical public tends to get the drift easily.

The Aguinaldo thing

“Inordinate delay” has become as dispute-wracked as the “Aguinaldo doctrine,” the principle that was exploited to enable public officials facing graft charges to avoid punishment by winning a subsequent election. Even though another set of voters passed judgment or the electorate wasn’t aware of the pending case or time had lapsed between elections. Even though the intent of the doctrine was obviously negated.

The SC has since abandoned the Aguinaldo rule. The “inordinate delay” principle though still has to be junked. There are no numbers on extent of excess and misapplication of both principles but names of beneficiaries were publicized.

Meantime, the word “inordinate” has fascinated people, especially lawyers who have business with the SC. It caught the fancy of the group of lawmakers who this week filed a petition before the SC to declare the second extension of martial law in Mindanao unconstitutional.


The petition uses the word in its main argument, alleging:

■ The limits set by the super majority on debate in Congress led to the approval of the extension “baselessly” and with “inordinate haste.”

■ The “rampage” by the super majority ruled the day “with grave abuse” and “inordinate alacrity.”

“Inordinate haste.” “Inordinate alacrity.” Those are phrases to which the SC members, familiar with the problem that the “inordinate delay” rule has caused, can relate to.

The word summons revulsion towards excess, when “much” becomes “too much.”
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