Chief Justice Renato Corona particularly cited the now infamous Facebook bikini case involving a Cebu school’s decision to ignore a TRO issued by a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge allowing five (5) female students and parents from taking part in their high school graduation after their so-called “bikini photos” were uploaded in social networking site Facebook.
This defiance in sum highlights the weakening of the judiciary as a consequence of the challenges currently facing the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Corona said the weakening of the courts would lead to the destruction of the judiciary in an event organized by the Batangas RTC Judges Association, Batangas First-Level Court Judges Association, Inc., and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Wednesday afternoon.
In a discussion-forum hosted by the University of Batangas with the theme, “Kalayaan at Katarungan,” the Chief Justice underscored that the rule of law, separation of powers and judicial independence are paramount to a free judiciary and strong democracy.
Quoting former American Bar Association President William Gosset, Corona stressed that “if respect for the courts and for their judicial process is gone or steadily weakened, no law can save us as a society.”
Batangas accorded its most famous justice-son a warm welcome as the audience composed of more than 800 judges, lawyers and law students boosted the spirit of the chief magistrate as he bared his heart out that his house had been under surveillance and his mode of communication tapped as parts of the harassment he and his family endured during the course of his impeachment.
Batangas 2nd District Representative Hermilando I. Mandanas echoed the same sentiment recalling the earlier House impeachment move as “political harassment.”
Mandanas, one of the three original House Liberal Party stalwarts, lamented such application of superior force.
“The Constitution, a sacred document (banal na kasulatan), has been exploited for partisan politics and the first victim of the administration in this impeachment process is the House of Representatives (referring to the 188 congressmen who signed),” Mandanas emphasized.
The Batangas congressman then rallied the audience not to vote for these congressmen in next year’s election to express the fight for truth and justice.
Mandanas had earlier been stripped of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship immediately a day after not signing the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice. He had been replaced by a member of the ruling party, Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City.
Corona described this harassment, quoting famed historian Gregorio Zaide, as “ambitious, no mercy, no-conscience presidency” aimed at establishing dictatorship with powers concentrated in the same hands.
“As an elected member of the people, our nation is faced with a crisis of true leadership,” Mandanas said. “The straight path is a straight path headed towards slough (putikan).”
This is Rep. Hermilando Mandanas’ first public appearance with the Chief Justice after the latter was impeached to the House of Representatives on December 12, 2011.