SC dared to declare its independence
MANILA, Philippines — Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the Constitution, took the Supreme Court to task on Monday for its arbitrariness in unseating Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice over questions regarding her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) while providing legal cover in blocking public access to President Rodrigo Duterte’s financial records.
Monsod, also a former Commission on Elections chair, rebuked the high tribunal for its Feb. 2 decision upholding the memorandum circular that Ombudsman Samuel Martires issued, which limited public access to copies of the SALNs of the president and vice president.
He said the magistrates should listen to the people instead of government officials who were mandated by the Charter to file their SALNs as part of efforts versus graft.
“I’m really disappointed that the Supreme Court … listen to their peers more than they listen to the people,” Monsod said in an online forum hosted by the Right to Know Right Now Coalition.
“And they are very selective even within their ranks. They removed Sereno on the ground of integrity … That’s the kind of Supreme Court we have,” he lamented.
Monsod said it was ironic that the justices dismissed merely on procedural grounds the petition filed by lawyer Louis Biraogo, who challenged the constitutionality of Martires’ order.
Since 2016, he said, the high court had issued at least five “questionable decisions” that seemed to “defer” to the President, among them the December 2017 ruling that affirmed the legality of martial law in Mindanao following the siege of Marawi City.
“I hope they will change their minds and have another set of golden moments in its history … It’s time for them to declare their independence,” he said.
Monsod also reminded Martires that the Office of the Ombudsman was not established by the Constitution to defend public officials from individuals seeking accountability and transparency.
“It seems that the present Ombudsman has forgotten that in a democracy, the people are the principals and the government officials are their agents, not the other way around,” he said.
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