"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Supreme Court and the Duterte presidency

Death wish: 1,800+ drugs-related killings since Duterte took office
Death wish: 1,800+ drugs-related killings since Duterte took office
President Rody Duterte will be in office as head of state and head of government from 2016 to June 30, 2022, or for a period of 6 years. Within that span of time, 12 out of the 15 justices in the Supreme Court shall retire. Thus, the president shall have the opportunity to appoint no less than 12 members of the highest court of the land.

That is a tremendous opportunity to fill up the Supreme Court with judges, prosecutors and lawyers who share the president's paradigm and perspectives on law and public policy. And so, even after he shall have left the presidency, the Duterte legal philosophies shall continue to animate the High Court. And that is tremendous power and influence.

When we say Duterte legal philosophies, we mean the legal perspectives that favor death penalty, that is unforgiving and unforgiving when it comes to drug offenders, and drug-related murders, rapes, robberies, kidnapping, arson and other heinous crimes against persons, against properties and against humanity.

The president will most probably appoint legal luminaries who are not hesitant to impose the capital punishment (once death penalty is reinstated in our penal code), and those prosecutors who have records of passionate drives against crimes and corruptions. Mindanao lawyers and San Beda law graduates will have better chances to be appointed to the highest court.

12 justices are retiring compulsorily upon reaching their respective 70th birthday. This year alone, 2 justices are retiring, namely: Jose Perez on 14th of December and Arturo Brion on December 29. 2 justices will retire in 2017, namely: Bienvenido Reyes on July 6 and Jose Mendoza on August 8 next year. Another 2 justices will reach 70 years in 2018, Presbitero Velasco Jr on August 8 and Tresita de Castro on October 8. In 2019, 4 justices shall go: Mariano del Castillo on July 29, Francis Jardeleza on September 26, Lucas Bersamin on October 18 and Antomio Carpio on October 26, 2019.

The last 2 to retire during the Duterte presidency are Diosdado Peralta, (my neighbor like Justice Bersamin) on March 27 and Estela Bernabe on May 14, both in 2022, a few days before Duterte leaves office by June 30, 2022. This means that only 3 of the 15 incumbents today shall remain in the High Court after the Duterte presidency. They are Chief Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno, Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Caguioa. These 3 are all appointees of President Aquino III. And so, from 2016 to 2022, 12 new justices shall be appointed by President Duterte.

With both the Senate and the House as Duterte allies, he will have complete control of the government.

Not even President Aquino III has had this vast opportunity, not even Gloria Arroyo in her 10 years in office. Thus, we shall have a Supreme Court that will be pro-poor, pro-labor, and pro-social legislation. We will have a High Court that shall be unforgiving when it comes to criminals but compassionate to victims of social injustice. We shall have a Supreme Court that shall discipline judges who delay in hearing and deciding cases, those who make money out of the dispensation of justice.

The Court with Duterte appointees shall not hesitate to dismiss the corrupt, the inept, and the incompetent members of the bench. Even lawyers shall be compelled to remain faithful to the Code of Ethics of the Judiciary.

Source: The Freeman, Attorney Josephus Jimenez, September 6, 2016

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