Friday, January 23, 2015


If every citizen, including or particularly the President, must subscribe to the age-old doctrine that the Supreme Court is right even when it is wrong, Malacañang should not bother about how the Tribunal will rule on the motion for reconsideration on the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

The Court was supposed to make its ruling last week. However, four justices — said to be those appointed by President Aquino — requested for a postponement until Wednesday, Jan. 21. 

They knew the President has lost the MR. in fact, there are guesses that four jurists will vote with the majority, making the ruling unanimous. They are said to have expressed a desire to their peers regarding the language of the decision. 

We guess the Palace is renewing its old plea to insert a proviso in the ruling that while the DAP is patently unconstitutional as the Court saw it in the first decision, the violation by the President was made in “good faith.” He meant no harm. 

Nobody was injured by the pooling by the President of the savings of government agencies and use it for public welfare. We share the sentiment of the President. 

We also recognize the law that says only the House of Representatives can initiate or appropriate funds for the government. If that were so, the savings should have been returned to the National Treasury.

President Aquino would have made himself a hero of the law if he were to accept the ruling without suggestions that he used the savings for public welfare. He was guided by nothing but good faith. 

Good faith, in the case of the DAP, does not sit with law, according to the minds of the magistrates. Good faith is not a reason to violate the law. Good faith defies the legal maxim of “dura lex, sed lex.” The law is hard but it is the law. 

The President is the first person to show that this is so. It strengthens democracy.

It deters future offenses done in “good faith.” 

It is unclear whether or not the four jurists appointed by President Aquino will dissent on the ruling. The number is too few to be of any effect. A dissent by the four — presumed to be done in their best lights — can create the perception the President has his own court in the Supreme Court. Unluckily, he does not have the majority. 

Worse than that, the President appointed a Head Magistrate who may never be able to lead the court to the President’s wishes.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno will serve the court for  20 years. She practically doused the hopes of senior jurists to become Head Magistrate. 

By the time she retires at age 70, the aspirants for her position may have long retired. In fact many of them may be dead. The President obviously failed to recognize the politics in the Court.  

Historically, senior jurists who hope to be appointed chief instinctively defend the cases of Malacañang. They hope to be rewarded with an appointment as chief. The other senior justices have cooperate with the Palace in the same hope.

Likely than not the President will lose the memorandum for reconsideration on the DAP with good faith taking a backseat to the law or to how the magistrates interpret them. 

The loss is a victory for the majesty of the law. First and foremost, President Aquino should take pride in the fact that, as so stated in the Constitution, the Supreme Court, representing the Judiciary Branch is co-equal and co-independent. 

One does not trample upon the other. 

The President trampled upon the exclusive right of Congress to appropriate funds for the government. The Supreme Court saw the violation of the Constitution and flatly so declared in the first unanimous ruling. 

It was a triumph of the law.

It was not a defeat of the President. 

Therefore, the desire to insert in the forthcoming ruling that the violation of the Charter was done in good faith does not wash away or diminish the crime. As they always say the “road to hell is paved with good intensions.” This does not apply to the way the President disbursed the DAP. He can account for every cent of it. 

The dark spot that is hard to justify is the use of a few hundred million pesos for the friends of the President in the Senate. The money is pork barrel — earlier declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. 

The President made the same mistake twice. Good faith does not figure in this particular disbursement of the DAP.

The possible unanimous ruling on the DAP on the motion for reconsideration does not remotely suggest the court is against the President or the DAP. 

A unanimous decision does not translate into defiance of the President by the Court. 

It simply means the Court is independent of the President. 

The President should be proud the Supreme Court is not in his control. Democracy is alive. The Supreme Court is not a rubber stamp that it was a few times in the past.

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