MANILA, Philippines?Defiant members of the Philippine Truth Commission vowed Wednesday to carry out their mandate despite a Supreme Court announcement that it had declared the creation of the anti-graft body unconstitutional.
Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., head of the commission, held an emergency meeting with the rest of the members, who agreed to function until a final ruling was rendered by the high court.
?We encourage the public to continue submitting complaints,? Commissioner Carlos Medina told the Inquirer after the two-hour meeting in Malacañang that began at 9 a.m.
?We are disappointed but it is clear that this latest development will not stop us in our campaign to go after people involved in massive cases of graft and corruption.?
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Solicitor General Joel Cadiz were also in the meeting, during which they agreed that the Palace should ask the high court to reconsider its decision, according to Medina.
In the meeting, Medina said, he and other commissioners expressed surprise with the manner by which the high tribunal made public its decision.
Voting 10-5, Supreme Court justices ruled that Executive Order No. 1, which created the Truth Commission, was unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
President Benigno Aquino III created the body apparently to go after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose nine-year administration was mired in accusations of graft and corruption.
Medina said he and other commissioners were wondering why the Supreme Court decided to leak the decision even before a ruling could be written.
?Everyone?s wondering,? he said. ?This is one issue whose answer only the Supreme Court knows.?
In the absence of a formal ruling, Medina said the commission decided to continue with its work outside of ?substantive? matters such as conducting hearings and issuing summonses.
He said the commission was also unsure whether the high court had issued a permanent injunction. He said the body had received at least 50 complaints as of Tuesday.
?As far as the Truth Commission is concerned, we will continue with what we have been doing without acting substantially on cases brought before it,? he said.
Medina shrugged off criticism that the commissioners? all legal luminaries?were also at fault for the debacle because they had been consulted on the creation of the commission.
Asked if commissioners were insulted by the criticism, he said: ?We feel the issue is being diverted. The issue here is accountability, which is the result of the rule of law.?
?We really believe in the constitutionality of EO No. 1. We really studied that. We believe in its objectives.?