PALACE BEHIND COURTS ANTI-LACSON RULING -- ENRILEManila, April 5, 2003 -- Former Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile yesterday chided the Supreme Court (SC) for allegedly tainting the country's judicial system with politics after it reversed itself and voted to reopen the dismissed Kuratong Baleleng case against Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson. Enrile, president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), noted the high court's ruling became highly suspicious because it came barely a day after Lacson formally announced he was running for president in next year's national elections. In an interview, Enrile also confirmed suspicions that Malacaņang had a hand in the ruling when he bared there was an intense pressure coming from the Palace and some prosecutors even asked his law office to advise him "not to make a reaction so as not to add more fire to the raging issue." He also pointed out that "politics was indeed at play in the ruling because all the justices appointed by President Arroyo voted for the opening of the case except for Justice Antonio Carpio." Enrile also stressed it was the first in the country's judicial history that a justice who initially abstained from hearing the case suddenly made a turn-around and even wrote the decision. He was referring to Justice Romeo Callejo who initially abstained from the case when he was still a Court Appeals justice on grounds that his nephew who was a cop investigated the case. The former opposition lawmaker said the blatant disregard of the SC of time-honored doctrines such as the retroactivity of the law has forced the Philconsa to issue a statement condemning the high court's ruling. In its statement, Philconsa stated among others that "politics, not the rule of law" was behind the verdict while warning the high court of possible social repercussions arising from its ruling over what it described as "explosive case." Philconsa pointed out the SC succumbed to the political importunings of the executive branch of the government, "thus erasing further the panels which constitute the separation of powers in our democracy." But Malacaņang, also yesterday, urged Enrile to stop accusing President Arroyo and the high court of conspiracy regarding the ruling to revive Lacson's already dismissed Kuratong Baleleng case. In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the SC is an independent body that cannot be influenced by Malacaņang. "The accusation of (former) Sen. Enrile is strong...that's a disservice to the Supreme Court...you see that's (SC) an independent body," the Palace official noted. The former senator disclosed he had indeed received pressures from Malacaņang to keep mum on the controversial ruling of the SC and to cease from issuing negative statements. Enrile, himself a former Justice secretary during the Marcos martial law years, claimed Malacaņang even sent an emissary requesting him to be silent on the issue.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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