“I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you’re having a good idea but it’s just eggs hatching.” – Jack Handy

After the Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Hubert Webb and company for the Vizconde rape-slays, Midas Marquez, the spokesman of the Supreme Court, got the bright idea of explaining to the public that the Court did not mean the accused were innocent, that it only said there was no proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Well, in our system of justice anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty so I’m wondering which part of “presumed innocent until proven guilty” did Midas not understand?

Last Thursday, another bright idea hatched in Midas’ brain. Still smarting from President Aquino’s remark that the judiciary is the greatest obstacle in his fight against corruption, Midas advised the Malacanang legal team to lecture the President on the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive.

“I am certain they can explain these fairly simple nuances to the President, who need not be a lawyer,” he remarked snidely.

Well, Midas passed the bar so he can pass himself off as a lawyer and, like he said, fairly simple legal nuances can be understood by just about anybody so judicial overreach shouldn’t be too difficult for him to comprehend.

Before the Supreme Court hears a case, it must first determine the legal standing of petitioners. In the EO1 case the Court decided the petitioners-legislators had locus standi because they asserted that EO1 usurps the power of Congress to create a public office and to appropriate funds for its operation. The Court also gave private petitioner “Barok” Biraogo legal standing but not because he had shown that ‘he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal and direct injury attributable to the implementation of Executive Order No. 1’ but because his petition covered ‘matters of transcendental importance’, whatever that means.

To cut a long story short, the Court threw out the petitioners’ argument that the Truth Commission usurped the powers of Congress and that it supplanted the powers of the Ombudsman and the Justice Department. So case dismissed or should have been as none of the petitioners had legal standing on the issue of equal protection.

The Court in the case of Nunez vs. Sandiganbayan specified those who fall under the equal protection clause:

“Those adversely affected may under the circumstances invoke the equal protection clause only if they can show that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the common weal was prompted by the spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason.”

Midas may wish underline the phrase “Those adversely affected” because it is the key to understanding judicial overreach in the EO1 case and what it did to the separation of powers principle.

Justice Antonio Carpio’s dissenting opinion in the EO1 Case touches on judicial overreach:

“Here, petitioners do not claim to be adversely affected by the alleged selective prosecution under EO 1. Even in the absence of such a claim by the proper party, the majority opinion strikes down EO 1 as discriminatory and thus violative of the equal protection clause. This is a gratuitous act to those who are not before this Court, a discriminatory exception to the rule that only those “adversely affected” by an alleged selective prosecution can invoke the equal protection clause.”

Carpio added that if the Court can obstruct President Aquino from carrying out his constitutional duties then “it can also prevent the House of Representatives or the Senate from conducting an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the financial transactions of the Arroyo administration, on the ground of violation of the equal protection clause.”

If I may add further, the majority stood on equal protection because it had no other leg to stand on. To make their case, they conjured a category called “past administrations” as if there were no substantial distinctions between honest and crooked presidents, as if all administrations were similarly situated. The majority’s hat trick reminded me of an earlier Supreme Court that pulled “constructive resignation” out of its collective ass to legalize the overthrow of President Estrada.

Judicial overreach breaches the separation of powers between co-equal branches of government. Thus, President Aquino has every reason to complain against the Court’s encroachment.

Midas, dey wuz jez eggs hatchin but who knew, right?

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • Joe America

    “Still smarting from President Aquino’s remark that the judiciary is the greatest obstacle in his fight against corruption”

    Not only is the judiciary the greatest obstacle in his fight against corruption, it is core of the problem that abuse runs wild in the Philippines, where abuse is defined as having smoke or noise blasted into your face and flea-ridden dogs tripping your motorcycle and government officials behaving like snarling autocrats rather than public servants. There is no outlet, no forum, no court, no lawyer available to “the people”. It is available to the rich and favor-trading powerful, but not the everyday man or woman or child . . .

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Joe,

      “It is available to the rich and favor-trading powerful, but not the everyday man or woman or child . . .”

      There are many cases where the honest rich have lost cases because they refused to pay up. I’m afraid the corrupt do not make class distinctions, they go where the money is and sometimes it’s deciding in favor of a crooked everyday man who is out to bilk some unfortunate rich guy.

      Having said that, I will say that the judiciary in this country is corrupt to the core, from the lowest to the highest court.

    • Bert

      Joe, America had it’s wild, wild west too.

      We will get over that too, you’ll see.

      • Manuelbuencamino

        well despite the incidents of officially sanctioned tortue george bush and dick cheney are still running around free so indeed the US still has its wild wild west

    • Anonymous

      When will Pilipinas realize that its future lies with power held absolutely by the One Elected With Over 52% Greatest Mandate?? Wouldn’t it be super-hunky-dorry if Malacanang makes happen a single-minded putsch to take constitutional interpretation away from those justices of the supreme court so evil because they were chosen by Glorr-yyy-AAAA??

      Shouldn’t PresiNoynoy makd a putsch before 2012 to put his own justices into Pilipinas Supreme Court? (Your answer is your answer but my thought is this — Power held absolutely by Malacanang will NOT result in The Greatest Good With Malice Towards None.)

      Pilipinas should make a huge surge where Religion Rules (one set fo Mindanao, another for Visayas, Luzon), wouldn’t that be a better engine to achieve The Greatest Good With Malice Towards None?

  • Joe America

    “Still smarting from President Aquino’s remark that the judiciary is the greatest obstacle in his fight against corruption”

    Not only is the judiciary the greatest obstacle in his fight against corruption, it is core of the problem that abuse runs wild in the Philippines, where abuse is defined as having smoke or noise blasted into your face and flea-ridden dogs tripping your motorcycle and government officials behaving like snarling autocrats rather than public servants. There is no outlet, no forum, no court, no lawyer available to “the people”. It is available to the rich and favor-trading powerful, but not the everyday man or woman or child . . .

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Joe,

      “It is available to the rich and favor-trading powerful, but not the everyday man or woman or child . . .”

      There are many cases where the honest rich have lost cases because they refused to pay up. I’m afraid the corrupt do not make class distinctions, they go where the money is and sometimes it’s deciding in favor of a crooked everyday man who is out to bilk some unfortunate rich guy.

      Having said that, I will say that the judiciary in this country is corrupt to the core, from the lowest to the highest court.

    • Bert

      Joe, America had it’s wild, wild west too.

      We will get over that too, you’ll see.

      • Manuelbuencamino

        well despite the incidents of officially sanctioned tortue george bush and dick cheney are still running around free so indeed the US still has its wild wild west

    • Anonymous

      When will Pilipinas realize that its future lies with power held absolutely by the One Elected With Over 52% Greatest Mandate?? Wouldn’t it be super-hunky-dorry if Malacanang makes happen a single-minded putsch to take constitutional interpretation away from those justices of the supreme court so evil because they were chosen by Glorr-yyy-AAAA??

      About time Presi Noynoy takes action, hopefully (are you really hoping???) hopefully before 2012 arrives.

  • GabbyD

    “To cut a long story short, the Court threw out the petitioners’ argument that the Truth Commission usurped the powers of Congress and that it supplanted the powers of the Ombudsman and the Justice Department. So case dismissed or should have been as none of the petitioners had legal standing on the issue of equal protection.”

    why do you need to have standing on equal protection?

    the petitioners, who had been deems with standing, had 7 specific issues with the commission in their petition of unconstitutionality, one of which is equal protection.

    why ought each of the issues be justified by standing? isnt standing about the right of petitioners to initiate a lawsuit re unconstitutionality, and NOT on a specific reason for unconstitutionality?

    • Manuelbuencamino

      GabbyD,

      Below is the portion of the ponencia on the locus standi of the petitioners-legislators :

      “As held in Philippine Constitution Association v. Enriquez,[21]

      To the extent the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution.

      An act of the Executive which injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which can be questioned by a member of Congress. In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.

      Indeed, legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in their office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes on their prerogatives as legislators.[22]”

      As to Biraogo the ponencia said:

      “As correctly pointed out by the OSG, Biraogo has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal and direct injury attributable to the implementation of Executive Order No. 1. Nowhere in his petition is an assertion of a clear right that may justify his clamor for the Court to exercise judicial power and to wield the axe over presidential issuances in defense of the Constitution. The case of David v. Arroyo[24] explained the deep-seated rules on locus standi. Thus:

      Locus standi is defined as “a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.” In private suits, standing is governed by the “real-parties-in interest” rule as contained in Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. It provides that “every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.” Accordingly, the “real-party-in interest” is “the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.” Succinctly put, the plaintiff’s standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.”

      And so Biraogo’s locus standi was granted based on ‘matters of transcendental importance’

      Now the Court in the case of Nunez vs. Sandiganbayan specified those who fall under the equal protection clause: #

      “Those adversely affected may under the circumstances invoke the equal protection clause only if they can show that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the common weal was prompted by the spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason.” #

      In short, the SC had reason to entertain the complainants only on those issues where they would suffer direct harm or injury. As correctly pointed out by Justice Carpio, none of the petitioners claimed they would be harmed by the alleged persecution of Arroyo. So there was no reason for the SC to even touch the matter.

      It would have been a different matter altogether if Arroyo or a member of her administration had petitioned the Court instead of surrogates. She could have cried “Foul!” and the Court would have a basis for ruling whether or not she was indeed being singled out or subjected to ‘discrimination that finds no support in reason’.

      • GabbyD

        this is so interesting. but i’m still confused — why quote Nunez v. sandiganbayan?

        the decision decided on the equal protection issue — it DID NOT toss the case due to lack of standing.

        background: Nvsandigan is about nunez saying the sandiganbayan is unconstitutional for several reasons, one is equal protection.

        the relevant decision on equal protection i’ve copied it below:

        __________________________________
        The premise underlying petitioner’s contention on this point is set forth in his memorandum thus: ” 1. The Sandiganbayan proceedings violates petitioner’s right to equal protection, because – appeal as a matter of right became minimized into a mere matter of discretion; – appeal likewise was shrunk and limited only to questions of law, excluding a review of the facts and trial evidence; and – there is only one chance to appeal conviction, by certiorari to the Supreme Court, instead of the traditional two chances; while all other estafa indictees are entitled to appeal as a matter of right covering both law and facts and to two appellate courts, i.e., first to the Court of Appeals and thereafter to the Supreme Court.”

        25 ,that is hardly convincing, considering that the classification satisfies the test announced by this Court through Justice Laurel in People v. Vera 26 requiring that it “must be based on substantial distinctions which make real differences; it must be germane to the purposes of the law; it must not be limited to existing conditions only, and must apply equally to each member of the class. 27 To repeat, the Constitution specifically makes mention of the creation of a special court, the Sandiganbayan 4 precisely in response to a problem, the urgency of which cannot be denied, namely, dishonesty in the public service. It follows that those who may thereafter be tried by such court ought to have been aware as far back as January 17, 1973, when the present Constitution came into force, that a different procedure for the accused therein, whether a private citizen as petitioner is or a public official, is not necessarily offensive to the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Petitioner, moreover, cannot be unaware of the ruling of this Court in Co Chiong v. Cuaderno 28 a 1949 decision, that the general guarantees of the Bill of Rights, included among which are the due process of law and equal protection clauses must “give way to [a] specific provision, ” in that decision, one reserving to “Filipino citizens of the operation of public services or utilities.” 29 The scope of such a principle is not to be constricted. It is certainly broad enough to cover the instant situation.

        __________________________

        if ur too busy to read thru this legalesse, here’s the summary: note that an actual decision on equal protection was made, and the legal standing of Nunez WAS NOT QUESTIONED.

        so i repeat: why question the legal standing of the petitioners in the E01 case?

        • Manuelbuencamino

          “so i repeat: why question the legal standing of the petitioners in the E01 case?”

          Because to have locus standi on the issue of equal protection one must show that he is suffering or in danger of suffering direct and personal injury from selective prosecution.

          To repeat, petitioners-legislators had locus standi because the Court thought it should look into their allegation that EO1 encroached on their powers. But as you can see the Court ruled that EO1 did no such thing. And Biraogo’s equal protection rights were not even in the Court’s mind when it gave him locus standi.

          My point was judicial overreach. The Court ruled on an issue it had no business ruling on -equal protection – because none of those petitioners were fell under it.

      • GabbyD

        yeah, but the Biraogo petitioner relies on cases that justify paramount public interest:

        ____________________________

        Thus, in Coconut Oil Refiners Association, Inc. v. Torres,[26] the Court held that in cases of paramount importance where serious constitutional questions are involved, the standing requirements may be relaxed and a suit may be allowed to prosper even where there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review. In the first Emergency Powers Cases,[27] ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders although they had only an indirect and general interest shared in common with the public. #

        The OSG claims that the determinants of transcendental importance[28] laid down in CREBA v. ERC and Meralco[29] are non-existent in this case. The Court, however, finds reason in Biraogo’s assertion that the petition covers matters of transcendental importance to justify the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court. There are constitutional issues in the petition which deserve the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents. Where the issues are of transcendental and paramount importance not only to the public but also to the Bench and the Bar, they should be resolved for the guidance of all.[30]Undoubtedly, the Filipino people are more than interested to know the status of the President’s first effort to bring about a promised change to the country. The Court takes cognizance of the petition not due to overwhelming political undertones that clothe the issue in the eyes of the public, but because the Court stands firm in its oath to perform its constitutional duty to settle legal controversies with overreaching significance to society. #

        ______________________________________________

        so, the Nunez v Sandiganbayan does NOT apply.

        the bottom line — the SC has some latitude in implementing the direct injury test.

        • Manuelbuencamino

          The issue to be resolved in the Emergency Powers cases involved not only paramount national interest but also matters of transcendental importance.

          The equal protection issue as it relates to EO1 involves only the paramount interest of Gloria Arroyo. She should have sued, not her surrogates.

          Paramount national interest cannot be claimed when the requirements for standing under equal protection are specific. Equal protection claims are only for those adversely affected. That is spelled out clearly in Nunez vs Sandigan.

          Were Biraogo and the congressmen ever presidents? If ever any of them become presidents then they can sue, but not before.

          The petitioners had standing on all the other constitutional issues as they involved the separation of powers between the executive and the legislative, between the executive and the ombudsman.

          The petitioners had no standing on equal protection because they cannot show that they were, are, or will be personally affected by the alleged discriminatory provisions of EO1.

          To repeat, there would have been no case of judicial overreach if Gloria was the one who sued. The Court would have had all the reason in the world to tackle the issue. But like Carpio said, she was not even before the Court.

          Bottom line is the Court gave itself latitude so it could invent a fictitious category called past administrations, a category where no distinction between honest and crooked administrations is made and where an administration whose electoral mandate is still questioned to this day is said to be similarly situated as administrations with unquestioned mandates .

          • GabbyD

            i sympathize with your view.

            sadly, the SC can decide what “transcendental importance” means.

            but we can agree that there are constitutional issues involved here, no?

          • Manuelbuencamino

            yes. where we disagree is whether or not the Court overreached on the issue of equal protection.

          • GabbyD

            huh? u agree there are important constitutional issues, but you think the SC overreached?

            that means that there are some constitutional issues that the SC ought not to answer? that some constitutional issues have NO transcendental importance?

          • Manuelbuencamino

            I thought you understood my point: Biraogo and the congressmen had no basis to raise equal protection because they were not adversely affected by it sonce EO 1 was about investigating the scandals of Arroyo. If Gloria or someone who would be the subject of investigation by the Truth Commissio had raised it, then the SC would have cause to look into it and decide whether or not there was merit in their argument.

            You are arguing in a general sense while I am arguing a specific point: that unless the petitioner is adversely affected by EO1 he has no standing. To repeat, the petitioners had grounds on the constitutional issues of separation of powers but not on the issue of equal protection.

  • GabbyD

    “To cut a long story short, the Court threw out the petitioners’ argument that the Truth Commission usurped the powers of Congress and that it supplanted the powers of the Ombudsman and the Justice Department. So case dismissed or should have been as none of the petitioners had legal standing on the issue of equal protection.”

    why do you need to have standing on equal protection?

    the petitioners, who had been deems with standing, had 7 specific issues with the commission in their petition of unconstitutionality, one of which is equal protection.

    why ought each of the issues be justified by standing? isnt standing about the right of petitioners to initiate a lawsuit re unconstitutionality, and NOT on a specific reason for unconstitutionality?

    • Manuelbuencamino

      GabbyD,

      Below is the portion of the ponencia on the locus standi of the petitioners-legislators :

      “As held in Philippine Constitution Association v. Enriquez,[21]

      To the extent the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution.

      An act of the Executive which injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which can be questioned by a member of Congress. In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.

      Indeed, legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in their office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes on their prerogatives as legislators.[22]”

      As to Biraogo the ponencia said:

      “As correctly pointed out by the OSG, Biraogo has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal and direct injury attributable to the implementation of Executive Order No. 1. Nowhere in his petition is an assertion of a clear right that may justify his clamor for the Court to exercise judicial power and to wield the axe over presidential issuances in defense of the Constitution. The case of David v. Arroyo[24] explained the deep-seated rules on locus standi. Thus:

      Locus standi is defined as “a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.” In private suits, standing is governed by the “real-parties-in interest” rule as contained in Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. It provides that “every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.” Accordingly, the “real-party-in interest” is “the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.” Succinctly put, the plaintiff’s standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.”

      And so Biraogo’s locus standi was granted based on ‘matters of transcendental importance’

      Now the Court in the case of Nunez vs. Sandiganbayan specified those who fall under the equal protection clause: #

      “Those adversely affected may under the circumstances invoke the equal protection clause only if they can show that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the common weal was prompted by the spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason.” #

      In short, the SC had reason to entertain the complainants only on those issues where they would suffer direct harm or injury. As correctly pointed out by Justice Carpio, none of the petitioners claimed they would be harmed by the alleged persecution of Arroyo. So there was no reason for the SC to even touch the matter.

      It would have been a different matter altogether if Arroyo or a member of her administration had petitioned the Court instead of surrogates. She could have cried “Foul!” and the Court would have a basis for ruling whether or not she was indeed being singled out or subjected to ‘discrimination that finds no support in reason’.

      • GabbyD

        this is so interesting. but i’m still confused — why quote Nunez v. sandiganbayan?

        the decision decided on the equal protection issue — it DID NOT toss the case due to lack of standing.

        background: Nvsandigan is about nunez saying the sandiganbayan is unconstitutional for several reasons, one is equal protection.

        the relevant decision on equal protection i’ve copied it below:

        __________________________________
        The premise underlying petitioner’s contention on this point is set forth in his memorandum thus: ” 1. The Sandiganbayan proceedings violates petitioner’s right to equal protection, because – appeal as a matter of right became minimized into a mere matter of discretion; – appeal likewise was shrunk and limited only to questions of law, excluding a review of the facts and trial evidence; and – there is only one chance to appeal conviction, by certiorari to the Supreme Court, instead of the traditional two chances; while all other estafa indictees are entitled to appeal as a matter of right covering both law and facts and to two appellate courts, i.e., first to the Court of Appeals and thereafter to the Supreme Court.”

        25 ,that is hardly convincing, considering that the classification satisfies the test announced by this Court through Justice Laurel in People v. Vera 26 requiring that it “must be based on substantial distinctions which make real differences; it must be germane to the purposes of the law; it must not be limited to existing conditions only, and must apply equally to each member of the class. 27 To repeat, the Constitution specifically makes mention of the creation of a special court, the Sandiganbayan 4 precisely in response to a problem, the urgency of which cannot be denied, namely, dishonesty in the public service. It follows that those who may thereafter be tried by such court ought to have been aware as far back as January 17, 1973, when the present Constitution came into force, that a different procedure for the accused therein, whether a private citizen as petitioner is or a public official, is not necessarily offensive to the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Petitioner, moreover, cannot be unaware of the ruling of this Court in Co Chiong v. Cuaderno 28 a 1949 decision, that the general guarantees of the Bill of Rights, included among which are the due process of law and equal protection clauses must “give way to [a] specific provision, ” in that decision, one reserving to “Filipino citizens of the operation of public services or utilities.” 29 The scope of such a principle is not to be constricted. It is certainly broad enough to cover the instant situation.

        __________________________

        if ur too busy to read thru this legalesse, here’s the summary: note that an actual decision on equal protection was made, and the legal standing of Nunez WAS NOT QUESTIONED.

        so i repeat: why question the legal standing of the petitioners in the E01 case?

        • Manuelbuencamino

          “so i repeat: why question the legal standing of the petitioners in the E01 case?”

          Because to have locus standi on the issue of equal protection one must show that he is suffering or in danger of suffering direct and personal injury from selective prosecution.

          To repeat, petitioners-legislators had locus standi because the Court thought it should look into their allegation that EO1 encroached on their powers. But as you can see the Court ruled that EO1 did no such thing. And Biraogo’s equal protection rights were not even in the Court’s mind when it gave him locus standi.

          My point was judicial overreach. The Court ruled on an issue it had no business ruling on -equal protection – because none of those petitioners were fell under it.

      • GabbyD

        yeah, but the Biraogo petitioner relies on cases that justify paramount public interest:

        ____________________________

        Thus, in Coconut Oil Refiners Association, Inc. v. Torres,[26] the Court held that in cases of paramount importance where serious constitutional questions are involved, the standing requirements may be relaxed and a suit may be allowed to prosper even where there is no direct injury to the party claiming the right of judicial review. In the first Emergency Powers Cases,[27] ordinary citizens and taxpayers were allowed to question the constitutionality of several executive orders although they had only an indirect and general interest shared in common with the public. #

        The OSG claims that the determinants of transcendental importance[28] laid down in CREBA v. ERC and Meralco[29] are non-existent in this case. The Court, however, finds reason in Biraogo’s assertion that the petition covers matters of transcendental importance to justify the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court. There are constitutional issues in the petition which deserve the attention of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents. Where the issues are of transcendental and paramount importance not only to the public but also to the Bench and the Bar, they should be resolved for the guidance of all.[30]Undoubtedly, the Filipino people are more than interested to know the status of the President’s first effort to bring about a promised change to the country. The Court takes cognizance of the petition not due to overwhelming political undertones that clothe the issue in the eyes of the public, but because the Court stands firm in its oath to perform its constitutional duty to settle legal controversies with overreaching significance to society. #

        ______________________________________________

        so, the Nunez v Sandiganbayan does NOT apply.

        the bottom line — the SC has some latitude in implementing the direct injury test.

        • Manuelbuencamino

          The issue to be resolved in the Emergency Powers cases involved not only paramount national interest but also matters of transcendental importance.

          The equal protection issue as it relates to EO1 involves only the paramount interest of Gloria Arroyo. She should have sued, not her surrogates.

          Paramount national interest cannot be claimed when the requirements for standing under equal protection are specific. Equal protection claims are only for those adversely affected. That is spelled out clearly in Nunez vs Sandigan.

          Were Biraogo and the congressmen ever presidents? If ever any of them become presidents then they can sue, but not before.

          The petitioners had standing on all the other constitutional issues as they involved the separation of powers between the executive and the legislative, between the executive and the ombudsman.

          The petitioners had no standing on equal protection because they cannot show that they were, are, or will be personally affected by the alleged discriminatory provisions of EO1.

          To repeat, there would have been no case of judicial overreach if Gloria was the one who sued. The Court would have had all the reason in the world to tackle the issue. But like Carpio said, she was not even before the Court.

          Bottom line is the Court gave itself latitude so it could invent a fictitious category called past administrations, a category where no distinction between honest and crooked administrations is made and where an administration whose electoral mandate is still questioned to this day is said to be similarly situated as administrations with unquestioned mandates .

          • GabbyD

            i sympathize with your view.

            sadly, the SC can decide what “transcendental importance” means.

            but we can agree that there are constitutional issues involved here, no?

          • Manuelbuencamino

            yes. where we disagree is whether or not the Court overreached on the issue of equal protection.

          • GabbyD

            huh? u agree there are important constitutional issues, but you think the SC overreached?

            that means that there are some constitutional issues that the SC ought not to answer? that some constitutional issues have NO transcendental importance?

          • Manuelbuencamino

            I thought you understood my point: Biraogo and the congressmen had no basis to raise equal protection because they were not adversely affected by it sonce EO 1 was about investigating the scandals of Arroyo. If Gloria or someone who would be the subject of investigation by the Truth Commissio had raised it, then the SC would have cause to look into it and decide whether or not there was merit in their argument.

            You are arguing in a general sense while I am arguing a specific point: that unless the petitioner is adversely affected by EO1 he has no standing. To repeat, the petitioners had grounds on the constitutional issues of separation of powers but not on the issue of equal protection.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      GabbyD,

      Below is the portion of the ponencia on the locus standi of the petitioners-legislators :

      “As held in Philippine Constitution Association v. Enriquez,[21]

      To the extent the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution.

      An act of the Executive which injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury, which can be questioned by a member of Congress. In such a case, any member of Congress can have a resort to the courts.

      Indeed, legislators have a legal standing to see to it that the prerogative, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in their office remain inviolate. Thus, they are allowed to question the validity of any official action which, to their mind, infringes on their prerogatives as legislators.[22]”

      As to Biraogo the ponencia said:

      “As correctly pointed out by the OSG, Biraogo has not shown that he sustained, or is in danger of sustaining, any personal and direct injury attributable to the implementation of Executive Order No. 1. Nowhere in his petition is an assertion of a clear right that may justify his clamor for the Court to exercise judicial power and to wield the axe over presidential issuances in defense of the Constitution. The case of David v. Arroyo[24] explained the deep-seated rules on locus standi. Thus:

      Locus standi is defined as “a right of appearance in a court of justice on a given question.” In private suits, standing is governed by the “real-parties-in interest” rule as contained in Section 2, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended. It provides that “every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party in interest.” Accordingly, the “real-party-in interest” is “the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.” Succinctly put, the plaintiff’s standing is based on his own right to the relief sought.”

      And so Biraogo’s locus standi was granted based on ‘matters of transcendental importance’

      Now the Court in the case of Nunez vs. Sandiganbayan specified those who fall under the equal protection clause: #

      “Those adversely affected may under the circumstances invoke the equal protection clause only if they can show that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired by the attainment of the common weal was prompted by the spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no support in reason.” #

      In short, the SC had reason to entertain the complainants only on those issues where they would suffer direct harm or injury. As correctly pointed out by Justice Carpio, none of the petitioners claimed they would be harmed by the alleged persecution of Arroyo. So there was no reason for the SC to even touch the matter.

      It would have been a different matter altogether if Arroyo or a member of her administration had petitioned the Court instead of surrogates. She could have cried “Foul!” and the Court would have a basis for ruling whether or not she was indeed being singled out or subjected to ‘discrimination that finds no support in reason’.

  • Bert

    “…Midas Marquez, the spokesman of the Supreme Court, got the bright idea of explaining to the public that the Court did not mean the accused were innocent, that it only said there was no proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”-MB

    Wonderful, that Midas touch.

    If the Court did not mean the accused were innocent, then the Court could have meant the accused were guilty. No other way. Why were they then freed?

    If the Court said there was no proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, then the accused were innocent. No other way. That’s why they were freed.

    This Midas got not only eggs in his head but holes too, :).

  • Bert

    “…Midas Marquez, the spokesman of the Supreme Court, got the bright idea of explaining to the public that the Court did not mean the accused were innocent, that it only said there was no proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”-MB

    Wonderful, that Midas touch.

    If the Court did not mean the accused were innocent, then the Court could have meant the accused were guilty. No other way. Why were they then freed?

    If the Court said there was no proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, then the accused were innocent. No other way. That’s why they were freed.

    This Midas got not only eggs in his head but holes too, :).