It is time to cut clean: Did other SC justices fail to file SALNs, too? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 March 2018 11:36

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit…” (Jesus, our God and Savior, in Matthew 7:17, the Holy Bible).

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MAKATAO? OR FOR PURELY PERSONAL INTERESTS ALONE? I have to concede that the objective in the putting up of MAKATAO (Mambabatas Para sa Karapatang Pantao, or, loosely, lawmakers for human rights) is quite noble. With repeated human rights violations nowadays of many of our countrymen, whether in the public or private sectors, there is really a need for an organization like this.

The question, however, is, will MAKATAO also scrutinize human rights violations committed by their fellow lawmakers? Will MAKATAO look into the human rights violations attributed to the governments of former presidents Noynoy Aquino and his mother, Cory Aquino? Or, will MAKATAO only focus on alleged human rights violations by the Duterte government?

We do know that here in the Philippines, there is a penchant for putting up organizations with varying aspirations, but there would be no denying the fact that the underlying desire by those who organize them is to advance personal, family, and political interests alone. Because of this, I pose a challenge to MAKATAO: launch an honest-to-goodness investigation on abuses and human rights violations by your own colleagues, particularly the abuse of pork barrel funds. Would this be okay, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman?

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EVERYONE SHOULD NOW COME CLEAR: DID OTHER JUSTICES FAIL TO SUBMIT THEIR SALNs, TOO? Uh oh... this reminds every person of this Biblical story about sinning: “... But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, `Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’...” (John 8:6-7, the Holy Bible).

If the claim of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Aranal Sereno that there are other justices who have not submitted their SALNs (or Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth) is true, and I suppose it should be true otherwise Sereno would not be raising it against her colleagues, what then should be done? If Sereno can be removed from office because she failed to submit her complete SALNs when she was appointed justice of the Supreme Court, what then can we say of the justices she has fingered for the same “violation”?

I guess everyone owes it, first to God, then to the Filipino people, then to the Judiciary as a whole, to come forward and clear themselves of Sereno’s charge. Otherwise, even if Sereno is removed, the taint of SALNs not filed will continue to hound the highest court of the land, casting doubt on the integrity of all of them.

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IS SC DECISION IN 1981 APPLICABLE TO ITS OWN JUSTICES? In a lunch tendered by Batch 78 members of the UP College of Law Sigma Rho Fraternity to honor the retirement as Labor Arbiter of their Grand Archon when they were initiated in 1978, Judge Patricio Patnubay, Liboon, batch member-lawyer Doroteo B. Aguilla II brought up a decision of the Supreme Court which may affect the right of Sereno and her fellow justices to continue holding on to their positions at the high court.

Atty. Aguila said the Supreme Court ruled, in a 1981 case involving his own father, Atty. David Dumuk Aguila, that a government official can hold on to the position to which he or she was appointed only if he or she would remain qualified to hold the position. If after the appointment of the official he or she ceases to be qualified to remain in that position, he or she could no longer hold on to that position.

My question was, can this Supreme Court decision apply to its own justices who will be proved, after their appointment to the court, not to have submitted their SALNs in their employment before they joined the SC? If their non-submission of their SALNs would be discovered at a later point, it would be clear they would have missed on a Constitutional requirement for their appointment, removing their right to hold on to their positions. What do you think, dear readers of this column?

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FOR QUESTIONS, REACTIONS: If anyone would like to ask me any question about what the burning issues of the  day mean, or what we have discussed here, or to consult on any problem, whatever it maybe, please call 0917 984 24 68, or email me at batasmauricio@yahoo.com, or post your concerns at www.facebook.com/attybatas.  Promise, I will answer right away. Thank God in the Name of Jesus, Amen!