Alvarez, Court of Appeals: a test of the law PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 13:42

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…” (Romans 13:1-2, the Holy Bible).

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ALVAREZ AND THE COURT OF APPEALS: A TEST OF THE LAW: The outburst of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez Jr. of the House of Representatives against Court of Appeals’ justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon, and Nina Antonino Valenzuela is unfortunate for many reasons, to say the least. It could in fact subject him to possible disciplinary measures, both from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Supreme Court.

For one, it is not in accordance with the 1987 Constitution to say that the Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction over the House and its lawmakers. Section 1, Art. 8 of the Constitution recognizes the right of the Court of Appeals to exercise “judicial power” over all agencies and officials of government.

Judicial power simply means the right of the courts, including the Court of Appeals and even the lower first level courts to rule on any actual controversy involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether any government agency or official performed its or his or her functions without any abuse of discretion, or abuse of the powers of their positions.

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ALL CITIZENS MUST OBEY THE COURTS: For another, it is the duty of everyone to obey what the courts order them to do. If anyone, like Alvarez, is not in agreement with the orders of the courts, the remedy is not to berate the judges or the justices, in public yet, but to seek higher judicial intervention by the filing of cases to question those orders.

It is the obligation of all, particularly lawyers who are clothed by the Supreme Court with the mantle of responsibility of being officers of the courts, to maintain respect and deference to the courts and their judges and justices at all times. If anyone has any quarrel with the partiality or the behavior of any magistrate, the remedy is the filing of administrative (or any other appropriate) cases against them.

Berating the courts and their magistrates in public, and calling them “idiots” or “rotten” or “crazy”, will not in reality afford a solution. If an aggrieved party, like Alvarez, has any evidence at all, or if it is thought that the courts and the judges or justices acted erroneously, or worst, maliciously, seeking judicial redress against them is the remedy.

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THE POWER OF THE COURTS TO SAY WHAT THE LAW MEANS: Lastly, I am sure the lawyer in Speaker Alvarez is aware of the ruling of the Supreme Court in the landmark and famous case of “Angara vs. Electoral Commission” (G.R. No. L-45081, July 15, 1936) which says that it is the courts which are called upon to determine conflicting rights of agencies and officials of government.

In that case, the Supreme Court said: “The separation of powers is a fundamental principle in our system of government. It obtains not through express provision but by actual division in our Constitution. Each department of the government has exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction, and is supreme within its own sphere.

“But it does not follow from the fact that the three powers are to be kept separate and distinct that the Constitution intended them to be absolutely unrestrained and independent of each other. The Constitution has provided for an elaborate system of checks and balances to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government…”

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JUDICIARY HAS THE RIGHT TO ALLOCATE POWERS OF GOV’T: The court also ruled: “… in the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of power to the executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the government…. In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof.”