MANILA, MARCH 2, 2011 (TRIBUNE) By Benjamin Pulta - A day after key Palace allies in Congress vowed to pursue impeachment charges against the justices of the Supreme Court who had voted to issue a status quo order on the House of Repre-sentatives to hold in abeyance the impeachment hearings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, President Aquino’s head lawyer herself denounced the SC justices and accused the tribunal of railroading the issuance of a status quo order in the impeachment case against the Ombudsman.

“You know one can’t help wondering what is happening to our Supreme Court,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said, citing portions of a concurring opinion by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Carpio pointed out that the “justices themselves (are) being deprived of the opportunity to take a look at the petition to determine whether a status quo order is proper or not.”

”It is saddening among us, especially lawyers, if you see the Supreme Court being hounded by all these issues.” De Lima added as she said that “the SC should not have issued status quo ante order and there even this controversy now.”

Citing Carpio’s concurring opinion, De Lima questioned why the tribunal put the issuance of a status quo order to a vote despite the three magistrates insistence that they should be first given an opportunity to examine the 60 page petition filed by the Ombudsman’s lawyers.

”What I read in the concurring opinion of Justice Carpio about the fact that the petition was filed in the morning of Sept 13, 2010 and then the next day, during the enbanc meeting in the morning they talked about the issuance of the status quo ante order and despite the objection of three justices: Carpio, Carpio-Morales who turned out to be ponente Justice, Justice Carpio and Justice Sereno that they should be given time to read the petition before voting on the propriety of issuing status quo ante order voting continued or proceeded and it turned out that the majority voted to issue status quo ante order.

“According to Justice Carpio’s concurring opinion, it was only in the morning of Sept. 14 when the voting took place, when it was only on Sept. 14 in the afternoon that he was furnished or received a copy of the petition.

“Three justices were saying let’s not vote on this first. Give us time to first go over the petition and yet the voting procceeded and the status quo ante order was granted.”

De Lima also said other scandals plaguing the high court has been placed into question the court’s credibility. “We have issues or allegations of plagiarism, of flip flopping as exemplied by the the case of the league of city three or four times that flip-flop act of impropriety like the one revealed by Lauro Vizconde and VACC Dante Jimenez and you have this questionable issuance of the status quo ante order without the benefit of the study.”she said.

Court spokesman Midas Marquez for his part said there was a deliberation which resulted in the ruling to grant the status quo order of the court in favor of Ombudsman Gutierrez.

Marquez also pointed out that the motion for reconsideration filed by Gutierrez’s lawyers “does not include in its prayer a request to stop the proceedings (before the House of Representatives)” and that technically there is nothing to stop the house from proceeding with the impeachment process while the motion for reconsideration remains unresolved.

“This is not the first time that decisions of the SC have been criticized.” Marquez added.

The court official also underscored that as a rule, the Chief Justice by his own authority may issue a temporary restraining order or a status quo order. In any case the mandate of the court is to make sure that the Constitution is observed.”

Gutierrez for her part asked members of the House Justice Committee to respect her constitutional and statutory rights as a citizen to seek redress on the proceedings being conducted against her.

In a statement, Gutierrez said she, just like any person, is entitled to due process, having the right to appeal the dismissal of the high court of her petition questioning the two impeachment complaints filed against her and that any action on her impeachment should await the finality of judgment.

“The members of the House Committee on Justice are thus called upon to exercise statesmanship, restraint, prudence and circumspection and to await the definitive and final resolution by the Supreme Court of the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Ombudsman before continuing with the impeachment proceedings against her,” she said.

“Due process requires that official action be responsive to the supremacy of reason and must obey the dictates of justice. It should rule out arbitrariness and unfairness and mandates that official action must not outrun the bounds of reason and result in sheer oppression. Genuine respect for the rights of all parties, thoughtful and deliberate consideration before ruling on important issues and matters and a zealous regard for the just administration of law are more important than the hasty disposal of cases,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, on confirmed reports that allies of the President are set to file an impeachment complaint against the Supreme Court justices who voted for the issuance of a status quo ante order that temporarily halted the hearings conducted by the House on the impeachment complaints, Valte, in a text message to the Tribune, said Malacañang thus far hasn’t studied that particular plan to be spearheaded by senior deputy majority leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas hence they cannot as yet issue any official comment regarding the matter.

“(It is ) premature to make that determination at the moment as we have not been able to study Rep. Fariñas’ plan yet,” Valte said when asked whether Aquino would be supportive of such move given his strong position to go after erring Ombudsman officials.

To recall, Aquino supported the protests aired by members of the House of Representatives who were disgruntled after the high court issued the status quo ante order which prevented them from processing the impeachment complaints against Gutierrez. With Aytch S. de la Cruz

Aquino swears in new officials By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated March 02, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino swore in yesterday retired Armed Forces vice chief Lt. Gen. Nestor Ochoa and Ambassador Evelyn Austria-Garcia as Philippine ambassadors to Brunei Darussalam and to the Czech Republic, respectively.

Garcia has been posted to Kuala Lumpur, The Hague, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York, and Paris.

Aquino also swore in former Camiguin governor and lawyer Antonio Gallardo as presidential legislative assistant for the Senate, investment banking analyst Karen Singson as Department of Finance chief privatization officer at the Privatization and Management Office and retired brigadier general Triunfo Agustin as chairman of the board of directors of the Department of National Defense-Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp.-Industrial Authority (PHIVIDEC-IA).

The others who took their oaths were Leo Tereso Magno as administrator and member of the board of directors of the PHIVIDEC-IA; and Romeo Alamillo, Vicente Buenaventura, Cesar Pobre and Jose Castellano Lapus as members of the board of directors.

Gallardo was awarded as one of the 10 Outstanding Governors of the Philippines in 1992, served as president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines from 1975 to 1977 and as chief of staff of then Senate president and now Sen. Franklin Drilon from 2003 to 2007. He finished his Bachelor of Laws at the University of the Philippines in 1971.

Singson has a master’s degree in business administration at the Harvard Business School in the United States and worked in various companies also in America.

Agustin was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ’60 and had taken various positions in the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the defunct Philippine Constabulary.

The President also administered the oaths of office of 20 new government officials including former Central Bank governor Jose Cuisia Jr. as Philippine ambassador to the United States in ceremonies at Malacañang’s Rizal Hall.

The Chief Executive signed Cuisia’s appointment papers in December 2010 to replace outgoing Ambassador Willy Gaa.

The President also swore in former Philippine ambassador to Canada Jose Brillantes as Foreign Affairs undersecretary for special and ocean concerns.

Brillantes was Philippine ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 2002 and had served in various capacities in Philippine diplomatic missions in Ottawa, Germany and Washington.

Ambassador Bienvenido Tejano, the seventh Philippine ambassador to New Zealand, was sworn in as the new ambassador to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

Other officials who also took their oaths of office included Florencia Dorotan and Patrocino Jude Esguerra III as undersecretaries of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Nabil Tan as undersecretary at the Office of the President, Gina Cantano-de la Cruz and Lila Shahani as assistant secretaries also at the Office of the President.

Lawyer Bienvenido Benitez was also sworn in as member of the board of directors of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority representing the national government and Nathaniel Servando as acting administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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