PALACE BEHIND COURTS ANTI-LACSON RULING -- ENRILE

Manila, 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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