Truth Commission is dead
The Aquino administration’s Truth Commission was dealt a final death blow on Tuesday by the Supreme Court which said no “substantial arguments” had been put forward by the government counsel in its defense.
The high tribunal denied a petition from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for the magistrates to reconsider their decision declaring as unconstitutional President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 creating the Truth Commission.
The Aquino government intended the Truth Commission as a vehicle to investigate the irregularities allegedly committed by Mr. Aquino’s predecessor, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“The motion for reconsideration in the petition questioning the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 has been denied with finality, the basic issues having been passed upon and there being no substantial arguments in the motion for reconsideration,” said the high court spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez at a press briefing to announce the decision.
Marquez said the magistrates voted 9 to 2. The High Court had earlier voted 10-4 to declare the executive order unconstitutional.
In striking down the proposed Truth Commission, the high court said its specific focus on only one administration—that of Arroyo—was a violation of the equal-protection provision of the Constitution.
The high court also denied the OSG’s appeal to invite an amici curiae, or friend of the court, to hold another round of oral arguments to allow it to defend the executive order.
Marquez said a second motion for reconsideration was “a prohibited pleading.”
As provided by the rules of court, an exception can only be granted “in the higher interest of justice” by the high court en banc upon a vote of at least two-thirds of its actual membership.
The nine justices who voted to strike down EO1 were the same ones who rejected the motion for reconsideration filed by the OSG.
They were Corona and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Perez and Jose Mendoza.
The dissenters were Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Roberto Abad.
Retired Associate Justices Antonio Nachura and Conchita Carpio-Morales, who has been appointed as the new Ombudsman, had voted for EO1.
Malacañang on Tuesday bowed to the high court decision junking its Truth Commission, saying it would now “move forward” to find other ways of getting the Arroyo administration to account.
No longer interested
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda indicated at a press briefing that the Palace was no longer interested in pushing for a Truth Commission now that Carpio-Morales headed the Ombudsman’s office.
“We have a new Ombudsman who we believe will prosecute the cases as mandated by the Constitution, then we will be filing cases, preparing cases to be filed in her office and that’s what we are going to do,” Lacierda told reporters.
With the issue on the constitutionality of the Truth Commission now deemed “settled,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said there were other ways to get to the truth, citing the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman.
Earlier, Arroyo filed an objection to Carpio-Morales’ nomination for the Ombudsman’s job, saying Carpio-Morales did not have the required “independence” of mind and impartiality in resolving case against her and her family. Arroyo said she expected to be the “principal target” of complaints filed before the Ombudsman. With Christine Avendaño
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