Jose Midas Marquez
Inquirer File Photo

BAGUIO CITY — Supreme Court (SC) Administrator and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez has accused the Aquino administration of instigating the public to defy court rulings by its “deliberate dismantling” of public confidence in the Supreme Court and the judiciary.

Speaking at the annual Supreme Court-sponsored media forum held recently in Baguio City, Marquez said that no less than the executive department has defied restraining orders issued by the Supreme Court.[box type=”default” size=”large”] Incidents of defiance of lawful court rulings cited [/box]Marquez cited the following incidents as cases of defiance of court orders:

(1) The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) collection of a 20 percent final withholding tax on P35 billion worth of government’s Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificates (PEACe bonds) last November in spite of a temporary restraining order (TRO) handed down by SC;

(2) The Department of Justice’s (DoJ) and Aquino administration’s refusal to honor a TRO, also issued by the high tribunal, directing DoJ to stop enforcing watch list orders against former first couple Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Mike Arroyo also last November; and

(3) DoJ’s defiance of a Manila trial court judge’s order for the inspection of the vehicle National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda was riding in when he was supposedly ambushed on Feb. 21, 2012.

These cases, aside from “assaults” by President Aquino and his allies against the Supreme Court and the judiciary, have emboldened private entities to defy lawful court orders, Marquez said.

To support his claim, he cited the following instances as cases of defiance:

(1) St. Theresa’s College High School Cebu’s defiance of a trial court’s TRO directing the school to allow some students to join the graduation march;

(2) SM Baguio’s refusal to receive a copy of a trial court-issued temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) stopping the mall management from cutting down 182 trees for its expansion project; and

(3) In Eastern Samar, a governor’s action of defying a trial court-issued TRO preventing him from using his administration’s annual budget.

“With these unfortunate events, it is a relevant question now to ask: What happens when defiance of Court orders becomes the norm?” Marquez said.

Marquez said these acts of defiance undermined public confidence in the Judiciary.

“The problem when the preconditions of independence and public confidence are not met is that the Judiciary loses its capacity to uphold the rule of law. The most egregious symptom of this is the current wave of defiance against court orders intended to protect human rights,” he said.

Marquez said the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona by allies of President Aquino at the House of Representatives, and the pending impeachment case against SC Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo show that the security of tenure of justices of the high tribunal is being attacked.

“Unfortunately, today, the administration’s deliberate dismantling of public confidence that the Court has so meticulously built over the decades has emboldened private individuals to defy court rulings and render meaningless the rule of law,” he said.

Marquez also assailed the President Aquino for acts which, he said, damaged the judiciary and the high court. Among these acts are:

(1) Aquino’s labeling of the high court as an “Arroyo court,” and of Chief Justice Renato Corona as an “agent appointed by Arroyo to the Supreme Court for the single purpose of ensuring she did not end up behind bars”;

(2) Aquino’s pronouncement before he took his oath as President that he would rather take his oath before a barangay captain; and (3) The President’s pronouncement that “any member of the Supreme Court who shall accept to be Chief Justice by appointment of the outgoing President (Gloria Arroyo)… risks even his presence in the Court as an associate member.”

Corona’s impeachment and the President’s “proactive role in the Chief Justice’s impeachment” prove that the latter took his “threats” to heart, Marquez said.(ABS CBN News)