Transactional politics in the Supreme Court
THE appointment by Duterte of Teresita Leonardo – De Castro as Chief Justice of the Supreme leaves a bad taste to us non-lawyers. We may not know the legalese of the doings of the Supreme Court but we are no fools. We know the basics of decency and appropriateness. After having testified against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the Lower House, and still voting for her ouster in the Supreme Court, thus acting as both accuser and judge, now she takes the place of the one she had worked hard to oust! Hindi ba masyado ng garapal? Ganito na ba ang garapalan sa Supreme Court?
No amount of hand washing can clear the palace of having a hand in the ouster of CJ Sereno. No less than Duterte himself has declared CJ Sereno as his enemy and he openly stated that he would have her removed! Solicitor General Jose Calida of the Palace was the one who pushed for the Quo Warranto against CJ Sereno. So who can believe that Duterte had no say in this ouster? The smell is too strong—an implicit political transaction has taken place between the Palace and the De Castro. You scratch my back and I scratch yours. You do me a favor and I return the favor. Is the appointment to be chief justice the reward? And what a reward it is: to get the title of chief justice and to get the fat pension plan of a chief justice upon retirement, with a stint of only 42 days as chief justice! De Castro will be in office only from Augut 28 to October 8 when she retires. Are we to believe that this appointment is done with “judicial professionalism” as Presidential Spokeman Harry Roque indicated? Kung garapal sila, hindi kami bulag. We legal lay people at least know the basic meaning of decency and delicadeza. We are not blinded by the finesse of legal rationalizations.
And what can De Castro do in 42 days? Is this appointment done with the view of improving the justice system in the country? The concern in this appointment and its acceptance is not the service of justice but vanity and greed. How low the supreme court has fallen! It is now just a pawn in the grab for power. With the game of transactional politics engulfing the Supreme Court, can we expect it to stand up and check the power of the President?
Can we, the people do anything? At the moment, I cannot think of anything concrete that we can do. At least we should not just be bystanders as if nothing is happening. We should not even just be on-lookers as our democratic institutions are being torn down. We should not be made to believe that this is alright. We should not be silent. We voice out our rage and together join our forces and consider how we can prevent our democratic system from further sliding down.