Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The chief is under attack

May I share a material from the Supreme Court stating the sectoral supports that Chief Justice Reynato Puno has been receiving in re: the rumor that partisan political factions, some say, aided by the Palace, have launched an impeachment campaign against him. The Chief Justice, who I find to be modest, humble, a free thinker and a libertarian, must be spared from the filth of partisan politics. The independence of the judiciary is at stake.

Outpouring of Support for Chief Justice Puno
Posted: January 14, 2009
By Jay B. Rempillo

Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno today was visited by “Running Priest” Fr. Robert Reyes who joined the men and women of the Judiciary, private individuals, and multi-sectoral groups who have expressed their full support for the chief magistrate and appealed that he and the Supreme Court be spared from politics.

Fr. Reyes, who runs to bring attention to his advocacies, prayed for Chief Justice Puno inside the chief magistrate’s chambers. Fr. Reyes was with the farmers-group Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon ng Mamamayan sa Kanayunan-Southern Tagalog (UNORKA-Southern Tagalog), one of the multi-sectoral groups which manifested support for Chief Justice Puno. The group presented Chief Justice Puno with a letter written in Filipino expressing their full and unwavering support for him.

In separate manifestos of support, the Philippine Judges Association (PJA), the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, and the Las Piñas City Judges Association expressed their unqualified and unwavering support for Chief Justice Puno in face of reports saying that the chief magistrate is in danger of being impeached by Congress over the alleged non-promulgation of a purported SC decision in the case of Biraogo v. Nograles and Limkaichong, a case questioning the qualification as to citizenship of Representative-elect Jocelyn LImkaichong. They denounced the alleged threats to oust Chief Justice Puno.

Aside from the issuance of a manifesto of support for Chief Justice Puno, the Metropolitan and City Judges Association of the Philippines (MeTCJAP), headed by its Executive Vice-President Judge Jaime B. Santiago of the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court, stated that it will hold an emergency meeting this Friday to discuss its course of action. In a statement, MeTCJAP said that it “sees the recent events as a political maneuver to destroy the integrity of the Chief Justice and the institution he is representing as a whole.”

PJA President Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr., in a statement, said that the PJA is “opposing any ‘contrived plot’ against Chief Justice Puno and any attempt to oust him before he retires in May 2010” and that the Judiciary “should be spared from ‘partisan manipulations.’”

“The PJA calls upon everyone to observe the Rule of Law, not to callously trample upon it for self-serving aims or purposes. More importantly, the PJA makes known its intentions that all legal measures and stops will be taken in order to see to it that the herein support being extended to Chief Justice Puno will be put into further action, if need be,” said the PJA. The PJA, an organization of around 900 RTC Judges nationwide, said that the attempt to impeach Chief Justice Puno is “a sickening reflection of how low ‘power-hungry’ individuals would go in order to put [the chief magistrate] in a bad light and promote their ‘sinister agenda.’”

The judges and employees of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila dismissed as “unfounded and baseless” the accusations against Chief Justice Puno. “We extol the Honorable Chief Justice in his efforts to cleanse the Judiciary, and we urge the citizenry to support him in this endeavor,” the manifesto stated.

The RTC of Manila underscored that Chief Justice Puno “has shown his integrity, uprightness, independence, impartiality, industry, and competence, with the decisions he has rendered, and his unblemished record, free from influence and corruption.” They commended Chief Justice Puno for initiating judicial reforms to win the trust and confidence of the general public.

The Las Piñas City Judges Association echoed the sentiments of the PJA that Chief Justice Puno should be spared from partisan manipulations. It described the alleged ouster move as among the “scandalous efforts…being exerted by seemingly ill-minded individuals to promote their political agency at the expense of every democratic institution in the country.” It vowed to take all legal measures and steps to ensure that its support to Chief Justice Puno will be put into action if the need arises.
Chief Justice Puno has also received letters of support from private law firms, including the Chua Law Office, expressing their support and deploring the ouster allegations. They also volunteered to act as counsel for the chief magistrate.