Friday, May 18, 2007

An Almost Unforgivable Insult

The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines provides, in Article VIII, on the Judiciary:

"Section 7. (1)
No person shall be appointed Member of the Supreme Court or any lower collegiate court unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. A Member of the Supreme Court must be at least forty years of age, and must have been for fifteen years or more a judge of a lower court or engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines."

Constitutional Law is taught in law schools, or at least, it ought to be, throughout the country, during freshman year. ALL bar reviewees memorize this provision. All lawyers know, or ought to know, of this citizenship requirement for Supreme Court justices.

Malacanang, therefore, announced the appointment to the Supreme Court of an Associate Justice from the Sandiganbayan who failed this very basic requirement of the fundamental law of the land, it makes us think how many lawyers conveniently forgot their constitutional law, or probably simply blinked at the [in]appropriate moment just so this appointment could land on the hands that gave the go-signal, which was then so quickly withdrawn just a few hours earlier.

It was a lapse that would probably be soon forgiven by this forgetful nation. No amount of "I-am-sorry" statements should assuage us. Is the supposedly independent judiciary, with no less than the highest tribunal of the land, being treated with due respect by our government?

Achievement and qualification should determine who gets appointed as Supreme Court justice. This is something ALL citizens deserve, whether or not they know their Constitution. Whenever connection and ambition cloud the judgment of those who are in power, the whole nation suffers.

We've been suffering for so long and for many reasons now. When we suffer due to something as basic as this, it is aggravated by ignominy, and not only we are insulted but also our Constitution, the safeguard of our so-called democracy.

Time was when I believed in people and governments and systems. These days I have become more selective in what I believe in. This government has long ceased to be one of them.

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