Friday, September 26, 2014

PNoy’s ‘siege on judiciary’ is ‘threat to democracy,’ legal alliance says | News | GMA News Online

See - PNoy’s ‘siege on judiciary’ is ‘threat to democracy,’ legal alliance says | News | GMA News Online

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An alliance of lawyers, law students and judicial independence advocates on Friday called for a stop on what they labeled as the administration's "siege on the judiciary," describing President Benigno Aquino III's recent actions toward the judiciary as a "threat to democracy."

During a news conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines' main office in Pasig, the Alliance of Lawyers and Advocates for Judicial Independence also opposed any attempts to amend the 1987 Constitution and extend the term of President Aquino.
"We implore our political leaders to put a halt to the siege on the judiciary," said IBP executive vice president Rosario Setias-Reyes as she read the alliance's statement.

"At no time under the post-EDSA revolution era has judicial independence been under siege than today," she said. 

Democracy was restored in February 1986 following the ouster of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. The bloodless revolution catapulted President Aquino's mother, Corazon, to the presidency at the time.
Aside from the IBP, other groups Included in the alliance are the Philippine Association of Law Schools, Philippine Trial Lawyers Association, Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Legal Advocates for Democracy, AnIB, National Union of People's Lawyers, Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation (MLAF), University of the Philippines Law Student Government, and the Judiciary Employees Association.

PNoy's actions vs. judiciary
At the same press briefing, IBP national president Vicente Joyas stressed that the alliance was condemning not necessarily President Aquino but his actions against the judiciary.
"Hindi si President Aquino ang banta sa demokrasiya kung hindi ang aksyon niya. We never condemn a person but we condemn the action. So iyong ginagawa niya ang banta sa demokrasiya," Joyas said.
Lawyer JV Bautista of AniB, meanwhile, also appealed to Aquino to "cease and desist from attacking judicial independence."
"We view this with great concern. This is a threat if not an outright assault not only on the Supreme Court but the judiciary. If that happens, you can expect us lawyers to come out and defend judicial independence and the rule of law," said Bautista.
Earlier, President Aquino warned the high tribunal of a potential gridlock with the executive when theSC struck down as unconstitutional parts of the government's Disbursement Acceleration Program in July.

Malacañang has since appealed the SC decision.
But the alliance described Aquino's warning as "sounding like a veiled threat of impeachment" against the SC magistrates. The group claimed the President's "flare-up" even reached the halls of Congress as the House of Representatives started scrutinizing the Judicial Development Fund.
Aquino's alleged offensive against the judiciary reached an "all-time high," according to the alliance, when he openly threatened to clip the power of judicial review through Charter change.
"As the backbone of the rule of law, judicial independence is vital to the health of democracy. If judicial independence suffers a breakdown, the entire system of separation of powers and checks and balances - the great hallmarks of the rule of law - crumbles,"  the alliance said.
For his part, Bantuas Lucman, acting MLAF secretary general, said he observed that the Aquino administration seemed to have a "propensity to attack" the Supreme Court. He said this started as far back as 2010, after the Supreme Court struck down Executive Order No. 1 which created the "Truth Commission."
"Kapag nagpatuloy ang temperament ng Pangulo laban sa Supreme Court baka maapektuhan kami lalo lahat sa Bangsamoro," said Lucman. — RSJ, GMA News
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