In his Opinion column for Interaksyon, Lawyer Mel Sta. Maria said warns everyone to take a closer look at the Supreme Court after Vice President Robredo resigned from her post as HUDCC chair.
He took note of Robredo’s apprehension upon her resignation, evident in how she said that she has been “warned of a plot to steal the Vice Presidency” and how “the events of recent days indicate that this plot is now being set into motion.”
Sta. Maria said that such a statement from Robredo points to a plot not only by ordinary people but by “scheming, powerful and conspiring individuals with the means and influence to execute it,” adding that “only an institution can bring down another institution.”
And that is how he pointed to the Supreme Court as the possible source of Robredo’s apprehension. How is that the case?
Only the Supreme Court can oust Robredo as VP.
“Section 4 Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “the Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President or Vice-President, and may promulgate its rules for the purpose,”” Sta. Maria said.
He said that when Robredo said “events of the recent days,” she was referring to the Supreme Court’s 9-5 decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Sta. Maria said that former Senator Bongbong Marcos could be counting on the Supreme Court to proclaim him as the new VP, too.
He also pointed to how Marcos rejected the results of the machines declaring Robredo as the winner, while accepting the same machine’s results that declared Duterte as the President. He took note of how smug Marcos was about claiming the vice presidency.
“And, without the case still being heard on its merits, Bongbong smugly declared, ‘I will eventually take my seat that is being kept warm for me,’” Sta. Maria said.
“He should not have said that because it generated so many speculations. For instance, one wonders: does this arrogance come from Bongbong’s sense of entitlement because he is a Marcos, or could this possibly be coming from something deeper, a more sinister, albeit for him reassuring, plan that will soon unravel before us?” he added.
And Marcos’ confidence could have come from Duterte’s evident support for him, too, especially after the President introduced him in China as “the next vice-president if he wins the protest,” Sta. Maria said.
The lawyer also wondered about the impact of Duterte’s “sub-judice statements” on the SC justices, starting with the Marcos burial and now, the younger Marcos’ election protest, in addition to the fact that the justices know about Duterte and Marcos’ friendship.
And yet another concern is the SC’s track record on voting in cases involving high-profile political personalities, said Sta. Maria. It doesn’t look good for Robredo, he added.
“This is the Supreme Court whose majority members are perceived — rightly or wrongly — to be always siding with the “elite,” the rich, the privileged, and/or people highly placed in the political ladder. And this perception has basis,” Sta. Maria said.
And he enumerated what those cases are, which include the following:
- Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s acquittal
- Former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ acquittal
- Bail granted to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile
- Adjudged absolute pardon for former President Joseph Estrada
- Excused sanction for Mayor Junjun Binay
- Decision not to oust Congressman Ronald Singson because his drug-related conviction is not considered a crime of moral turpitude
Sta. Maria pointed out other controversial case the SC has voted on in the past.
“This is also the Supreme Court whose majority ruled against the coconut farmers and in favor of Danding Cojuangco in the coco-levy case because, among others, there was no showing that the latter was one of the “close associates of President Marcos” — prompting former Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, now the Ombudsman, to say that “the argument that Cojuangco was not the subordinate or close associate of the Marcoses is the biggest joke to hit the country,” he said.
And of course, the SC’s most recent controversial decision to allow the dictator’s burial at the heroes’ cemetery.
Sta. Maria said that Robredo is not rich, not a part of the “elite” or the powerful class, except for the Filipinos who voted for her.
“Given this Supreme Court perception, is it totally unjustified for people to be apprehensive as regards how the Supreme Court, sitting as an electoral tribunal, will decide the Vice Presidency and Leni’s fate?” he asked.
The lawyer, though, hopes the SC will make a decision that will be “uplifting our national spirit and affirming the sovereignty that resides on the people.”
Sta. Maria then urged everyone to “think and act fast,” no matter how exhausting and frustrating things can be.
“In the meantime, we seem to be paralyzed again by these latest developments, and the need to process everything never appears to be fast enough for our brains to comprehend. We find ourselves asking once more, “what now” and “what next”? Well, we should not hold our breaths till we turn blue. We must think and act fast because eventually, it will affect us and the country. Yes, it is exhausting, and heaven knows it can be very frustrating. But at the end of the day, there are things which we simply cannot allow to happen again. So it is up to us to make sure that they do not,” he said as concluded his column.