SC compromised in proposed federal Constitution, says retired justice
The proposal to create three federal courts under the draft federal Constitution may help reduce the heavy case load at the Supreme Court, but retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza said this move may scale down the high court to “a mere shadow of its original self.”
“The Supreme Court is compromised in the proposed federal Constitution,” Mendoza said during the colloquium on the Consultative Commission’s (Con-com) proposed federal Constitution at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Under the Con-com’s proposal, one of the courts that will be created is the Federal Constitutional Court, which will have “exclusive and original jurisdiction” on any disputes involving questions of constitutionality.
“The present Supreme Court will be reduced to an ordinary court…because it will now become just one of the many courts,” Mendoza said, adding that the SC will also lose the power of judicial review.
Mendoza noted that several measures have been undertaken to reduce the backlog of cases at the high court.
“This problem (backlog of cases) has been with the Supreme Court since 1946. Attempts to solve it have only taken such devises as increasing the membership of the Court from nine to 11 as provided in the 1935 Constitution to 15 as provided in the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions and/or allowing the Court to sit in divisions,” he said.
The retired SC Associate Justice said the creation of mini Supreme Court’s to solve the problem has not been tried before because of the ‘one Supreme Court’ concept.
He suggested that instead of creating new courts, attention must be focused on the current SC’s “work method.”
Mendoza also warned that the Federal Constitutional Court may be “swamped” with requests for advisory opinions on pending legislation and executive action.
“Its authority will certainly suffer if it can repudiate its opinions and flip-flop in the decision of actual cases and controversies. The result will be the impoverishment of the judicial process,” he said. /ee
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