No ‘judicial independence’ in proposed federal constitution — Sereno
Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Friday said the provisions stated in the proposed federal constitution do not promote “judicial independence.”
During the “Hindi Pwederalismo” charter change forum at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Sereno said the proposed federal constitution has blurred the lines between the duties of the courts and the legislature.
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Under the proposed system, lawmakers can go to the courts to ask for advisory opinions, Sereno noted.
“This means even the federal constitutional court will already be part of the legislative process,” Sereno said.
She pointed out that this will have an adverse impact on the public. If the court has issued an opinion about a certain bill or law, where can ordinary citizens ask for help if the enacted laws have a negative impact on them, Sereno asked.
Judicial system under proposed charter
Under the proposed charter, the country will have four courts of constitutional jurisdiction:
- Federal Supreme Court;
- Federal Constitutional Court;
- Federal Administrative Court, and
- the Federal Electoral Court.
These courts are authorized to promulgate advisory opinions or declaratory relief decisions.
All the decisions handed down by the four courts will be final and executory.
Absence of clear delineations
Meanwhile, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said “a drawback of the new structure as far as access to justice is concerned is the absence of clear delineations of the respective jurisdictions of these courts.”
“The result of this gap is that court users could be mired and lost in this technical issue, especially the general public—and even some lawyers—who are confused and unfamiliar as they already are with the present justice system,” NUPL said.
NUPL noted that at present, the judiciary is still working on bringing justice closer to people.
However, a shift in the federal system would fail to achieve this because the members of the four courts will be beholden to the powerful transition commission, NUPL said.
The transition commission will have the authority to reorganize and restructure the judiciary based on the federal constitution. /vvp
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