(L-R) Senators Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara, Kiko Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Members of the Senate reacted on the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno from her position as chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC.)
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV called it “the darkest hour in our democracy” and accused the eight justices who favored the quo warranto petition against Sereno as “killing” the country’s justice system.
“The Supreme Court, which is supposed to be the cradle of our fragile Constitution, is the same body that killed it. Those SC justices who committed this heinous crime against our justice system must not and will not go unpunished,” he said.
Senator Bam Aquino, meanwhile, maintained that the SC ruling is not the rightful process to remove Sereno as it is the Senate, to convene as an impeachment court, is what the law requires. He added that the ruling would definitely have its repercussion on ordinary people in the future.
“Ano pa ang laban ng karaniwang Pilipino kung ang Chief Justice ay kayang tanggalin nang basta-basta at hindi batay sa tamang proseso?…Binalewala ang prosesong nakasaad sa Saligang Batas. Natanggalan ang publiko ng karapatang malaman ang totoo at suriin ang kaso. Tila ang may kapangyarihan na lang ang magdidikta ng hustisya. Talo na naman ang mga Pilipinong walang kalaban-laban,” he said.
For his part, Senator Kiko Pangilinan said the ruling was a show of “disrespect” to the Constitution. He insisted that the Court should have let the impeachment process proceeded as it is the Senate who has the authority to oust an impeachable official such as Sereno. He urged the public to voice out their displeasure with the ruling.
“Pambabastos sa Saligang Batas ang ginawa ng mayorya sa Supreme Court…Ang pagpapatalsik sa isang Chief Justice ay nasa kamay ng Senado, hindi ng korte. Dahil nangangamba sila na maaring wala silang sapat na boto sa Senado kaya nila pinuwersa ang bulok at basurang argumento…Dapat mag file ng motion for reconsideration. Dapat maipamalas ng taumbayan sa korte na mali ang pasya at hindi katanggap-tanggap,” Pangilinan said.
Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara, in a statement, said the results of the voting implied a “divided court on a very important constitutional issue.” This means, according to Angara, “the ruling may not be a stable one and may be subject to revision.”
Angara said that though he did not agree with the decision “because impeachment is the only constitutional route for removal of a CJ,” he said he “acknowledges that the Court has spoken.”
Nevertheless, he expressed hope that “wisdom and sobriety” would still prevail.
“The ripple effect of the decision may be felt in the coming months and years. I pray that wisdom and sobriety prevail in the future for the good of the country and our people,” he said.
On the other hand, Sereno’s accuser, Atty. Larry Gadon, said in a statement that the ruling “liberated the judiciary from the vestiges of the yellow cult,” referring to the color associated with the opposition’s Liberal Party.
In his victory statement, he dedicated “this win to the legacy of Chief Justice Renato Corona.” Gadon has been vocal of the reasons why he wanted Sereno out — to be made accountable those who benefited from what happened to Corona, one of which is Sereno.
Meanwhile, the petitioner Solicitor General Jose Calida, in a statement Friday, hailed the SC ruling as the “epitome of its exercise of judicial independence.” He thanked the magistrates for upholding the Constitution in its decision.
“The Supreme Court decision ousting Maria Lourdes Sereno augurs well for the country as it preserves the stability and integrity of the Judiciary. This decision is the epitome of its exercise of judicial independence…I would like to extend my appreciation to the learned magistrates of the Supreme Court for once again upholding the primacy of the Constitution,” Calida concluded. — Marje Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue
Supreme Court issues TRO vs Angkas operations
The Supreme Court on Wednesday (December 12) issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against a Mandaluyong court’s decision that allowed the operation of motorcycle-ride hailing service, Angkas, to continue.
The Supreme Court’s order states that the authority and mandate of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to regulate all public transport operating in the country should not be disregarded.
In line with this, the LTFRB has set a special board meeting on Wednesday afternoon to create a resolution that will authorize traffic law enforcers to apprehend Angkas motorcycles operating in the streets.
Last September, the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 213 ruled in favor of resuming the operation of Angkas in Metro Manila. — Joan Nano | UNTV News & Rescue
SC upholds tax court’s acquittal of Mikey Arroyo
FILE PHOTO: Supreme Court of the Philippines facade
MANILA, Philippines —The Supreme Court on Wednesday (December 5), upheld the Court of Tax Appeals’ decision acquitting former Ang Galing Pinoy party-list representative, Mikey Arroyo, of tax evasion charges.
It will be recalled that Arroyo was charged for failing to pay proper taxes and file income tax returns from 2004 to 2008.
In a resolution, the Supreme Court Division states that the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) thoroughly “sifted” the evidence and analyzed the records when it reviewed the elements of the offenses against Arroyo.
The High Court added that the CTA, having noted that Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) failed to discover the sources of Arroyo’s alleged questionable income, disclosed the reasons why the charges against Arroyo could not prosper and how the chosen audit procedure known as the net worth method was not enough to prove his criminal liability with the given information.
In 2011, the BIR filed tax evasion raps against Arroyo after discovering several discrepancies in his net worth and declared income.
His alleged unpaid taxes amounts to P24.4 million for the years 2004, 2006 and 2007. —Mai Bermudez | UNTV News & Rescue
ERRATUM: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified the accused to be former first gentleman Mike Arroyo instead of his son, former Ang Galing Pinoy party-list representative Mikey Arroyo. Changes have already been made to the article. We apologize for the error.
Carpio stands firm on West PH Sea rights despite possible impact on CJ nomination
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
Nothing will stop Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio from advocating a tougher stance in claiming Philippine’s sovereign rights to the West Philippine Sea — not even its potential impact on his nomination for chief justice of the Supreme Court (SC).
The possibility of his chances being affected due to his position on the issue is not lost on Justice Carpio, knowing that president Rodrigo Duterte, who holds the power to appoint the next chief justice, is friendly with China.
“It’s the prerogative of the president to appoint whoever he wants and I respect that. But that doesn’t stop me from continuing my advocacy because I think this is more important than anything else,” Carpio said.
Carpio made the statement during his lecture on the West Philippine Sea at the gathering of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas in Makati, Tuesday night.
Last week, Carpio decided to accept his automatic nomination to the chief justice post, noting that the circumstances are different this time as there are no longer any legal issues involved unlike during the ouster bid against former Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
“Because in Sereno, my opinion stated that she could not be removed by quo warranto but she was removed. Now, I do not want to benefit from a ruling that I disagreed on. But now this is an expiration of term. De Castro’s term as CJ expired. There’s no legal issue anymore. That’s why I said there is no reason anymore to decline,” Carpio explained.
Other SC justices who accepted their automatic nominations are Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Estella Perlas-Bernabe and Andres Reyes Jr.
Justice Antonio Carpio is currently the acting chief justice after Chief Justice Teresita de Castro retired on October 10 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.
The Judicial and Bar Council of the Philippines (JBC) extended the deadline for the submission of applications and nominations until October 26.
If he is selected for the post, Carpio will have until October 2019 to lead the Supreme Court. — Mai Bermudez