SolGen Calida wants Justice Carpio to inhibit from West Philippine Sea case

Marje Pelayo   •   July 1, 2019   •   1162

Solicitor General Jose Calida (L) and SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (R)

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has filed a motion before the Supreme Court (SC) asking SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to inhibit from participating in the petition urging the Duterte government to protect the marine resources in the West Philippine Sea.

Solicitor General Jose Calida cited ‘personal bias’ and ‘manifest partiality’ against Carpio for his active participation in the South China Sea Arbitral Proceedings in 2016 and for being critical of the Duterte Administration’s actions in relation to the issue in the West Philippine Sea.

Calida insisted that Carpio’s representation of the Philippines in the International Arbitral Tribunal is enough to disqualify him from holding the case.

In May, the SC upheld the Writ for Kalikasan petition filed by a fisherfolk group in Palawan and Zambales seeking protection of marine resources in the West Philippine Sea particularly the Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal; the Ayungin Shoal, and the Panganiban Reef also known as the Mischief Reef.

Among the respondents in the case are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); the Department of Agriculture; the Philippine Navy (PN); the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); the Philippine National Police (PNP); and the Department of Justice (DOJ), which according to the petitioners, failed to protect the country’s territory from irresponsible fishing and damaging activities of Chinese fishermen.

The group also cited the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision considering Ayungin Shoal and the Panganiban Reef as part of the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ) while based on Republic Act 95-22 also known as the Philippine Baselines Law, Panatag Shoal is also part of the country’s EEZ.

On the other hand, the SC cannot force a magistrate to inhibit from a case, said Attorney George Erwin Garcia of the Pamantasang ng Lungsod ng Maynila College of Law.

According to Garcia, it is the magistrate’s personal decision whether to inhibit or not from any case.

“It’s an absolute discretion din ng mismong huwes, ng mismong judge or justice na pinapa-inhibit ( It’s an absolute discretion of the judge or justice being requested to inhibit). Walang pwedeng mag-force sa kanya (Nobody can force him). It is best left to the sole discretion and wisdom of the judge subject of the motion for inhibition,” Garcia said.

Likewise, it is also inappropriate to cite “personal bias” as ground for inhibition.

The Canon 3 or impartiality provision of the New Code of Judicial Conduct states that: “Judges shall disqualify themselves from participating in any proceedings in which they are unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a reasonable observer that they are unable to decide the matter impartially.”

These reasons include cases wherein the judge “has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings; has served as a lawyer or was a material witness in the matter in controversy; has a member of his or her family who has an economic interest in the outcome of the matter in controversy; and has served as executor, trustee or lawyer in the case or matter in controversy.

“Minsan, to a certain extent, sasabihin, ‘ka-classmate kasi ‘yan nung college,’ o kaya ‘ninong kasi ‘yan nung anak nung lawyer’ (Sometimes, to a certain extent, people will say: ‘They’re classmates in college’ or ‘he is a godfather to the lawyer’s child’). So, madaming mga reason kung bakit pinapa-inhibit (A lot of reasons can be used to petition (a judge) to inhibit),” Garcia noted.

 Pero ‘yung pagiging partial, ‘yung pagiging bias, that’s the least ground that you can use. Kasi parang napaka-personal kasi noon. So meaning, kung ako ‘yun, ‘yung parang bias lang, perception of bias, mukhang hindi tamang ground for inhibition, (But being partial or biased, that is the least ground that you can use because it’ll appear very personal. So meaning, if I were in his shoes, if they use only perception of bias, I think that is inappropriate ground for inhibition),” he added.

As of this writing, Carpio has yet to respond on the issue. – with details from Harlene Delgado.

Trump asks Supreme Court to block subpoena for his tax returns

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

US President Donald J. Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from a campaign rally in Bossier City, Louisiana; in Washington, DC, USA, 15 November 2019. EPA-EFE/YURI GRIPAS / ABACA / POOL world rights

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys on Thursday asked the US Supreme Court to quash an attempt by prosecutors in New York to obtain his tax records for the last eight years.

The filing comes after a US district court and a federal appellate panel ruled that Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, had to comply with a grand jury subpoena for the documents.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office has been trying to enforce the subpoena, said he would delay action to allow the president’s lawyers to ask the Supreme Court to consider the case in the current term, according to The New York Times.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, a state or local prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation of the President of the United States and subjected him to coercive criminal process,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said. “Politically motivated subpoenas like this one are a perfect illustration of why a sitting president should be categorically immune from state criminal process.”

The dispute goes back to August, when Vance’s office demanded that Mazars hand over the tax records as part of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign’s 2016 hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal violated the laws of New York State.

Both women said they had affairs with Trump, who denies the claims.

On Wednesday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals let stand an earlier ruling that Mazars must also provide eight years of Trump’s tax returns to the Oversight and Reform Committee of the US House of Representatives.

The committee is seeking the tax records for “legitimate legislative pursuits, not an impermissible law-enforcement purpose,” the appellate judges concluded.

Trump’s legal team plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up that case as well.

While the US Department of Justice has long held that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, Trump attorney William S. Consovoy has maintained that his client enjoys “temporary presidential immunity,” not only from prosecution, but also from investigation. – EFE-EPA

llb/dr

CJ Peralta hopes verdict on Maguindanao massacre will be issued before year-end

Maris Federez   •   November 8, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Journalism students of Bulacan State University light candles in commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre in front of Bulacan Capitol, Malolos City, Bulacan. Photo taken November 21, 2013. | PVI/Junnel Aquino

The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes a 30-day extension in issuing her verdict on the Maguindanao Massacre case.

The case has already been submitted for resolution on August 22 and the court was supposed to come up with a verdict within 90 days or until the third week of November but Judge Reyes requested an extension.

CJ Peralta said they understand Reyes’ predicament due to the voluminous records and evidence that she had to consider which prompted the Supreme Court to approve her request for a one-month extension.

“We also allow meritorious motion for extension and we understand her predicament,” said Peralta.

The chief magistrate, however, expressed hope that Judge Reyes will no longer ask for another extension in issuing her verdict on the case.

“I hope that she will no longer ask for another extension so that before the end of the year those cases will finally be decided,” he said.

According to the memorandum that the SC sent to Reyes, she has until December 30 to arrive at a decision and it is already non-extendible.

On November 23, 2009, armed men ambushed 58 individuals, including 32 members of the media, in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Among the slain was the wife of former Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu who was supposed to file his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao gubernatorial election, opposing the Ampatuan clan.

The Maguindanao Massacre is considered the world’s worst election-related incident of violence and the deadliest attack against the members of the media. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

CJ Peralta ensures swift action on alleged narco judges

Maris Federez   •   November 8, 2019

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralto

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralto on Friday gave his assurance that his office will conduct swift action against the alleged narco judges.

Based on the narco list or the roll of personalities involved in illegal drugs in the possession of the president, included in the record are 13 judges and 10 are prosecutors.

Peralta said several recommendations related to this had been filed before the Supreme Court and they will issue their decision in the nearest possible time.

“There are also recommendations submitted to the court en banc in due time we will coming up with some with resolutions on these alleged narco judges,” Peralta said. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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