12/12/2011

AQUINO vs. CORONA ?

Entre le Président Aquino et le Chef de la Supreme Court, cela ne semble pas être le grand amour !
L'Exécutif contre le Legislatif peut-il mener à une crise constitutionnelle ?

The crisis triggered by the conflict between the executive and judicial branches over the planned trip abroad of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo loomed larger Wednesday.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Arroyo and her husband would still be barred from leaving until the Supreme Court ruled on the appeal that it had submitted.

President Aquino delayed his scheduled flight Wednesday to Bali, Indonesia, where the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) opens at 9 a.m. Thursday, so he could “monitor the situation” here, according to his spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Senator Joker Arroyo (no relation to the former President) said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s refusal to honor the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the high court on the inclusion of Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo in the immigration bureau’s watch list, which resulted in the foiled flight of the Arroyos on Tuesday night, was “a declaration of war by the executive branch” on the high court.

In a 37-page urgent motion for reconsideration submitted Wednesday to the high court, De Lima argued that the issuance of the TRO amounted to a “prejudgment” of the Arroyos’ separate petitions challenging the constitutionality of DOJ Circular No. 41.

De Lima had invoked the DOJ order—issued by Arroyo’s then justice secretary, Alberto Agra—in putting the former first couple in the watch list on October 28 in connection with the government inquiry into the alleged fraud in the 2007 midterm elections in Mindanao.

“By issuing the TRO, the [high court] has effectively ruled on the constitutionality of DOJ [Circular No.] 41 without hearing and without even waiting for [us] to comment on the petitions or for the issues to be joined,” the motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) partly read.

It read further: “The issue relating to [Arroyo’s] right to travel must be assessed taking into consideration the special and peculiar circumstances attendant to her case.

“The court must strike a balance between the general interest of the state … and the individual’s personal interest in enjoying the right to travel.”

Special session
Chief Justice Renato Corona has ordered a special en banc session to allow the justices to deliberate on various petitions filed in connection with Arroyo’s averted foreign trip.

In a hastily called news briefing Wednesday afternoon, court spokesperson and administrator Jose Midas Marquez said Corona had set the special full court session at 11 a.m. Thursday.

“This is to tackle pleadings which were not [deliberated on] during the regular en banc session last Tuesday,” Marquez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
He said the DOJ appeal, Arroyo’s motion to move the November 22 oral arguments to an earlier date, and the DOJ’s “alleged defiance” of the TRO would be taken up during the special session.
Marquez stressed that Corona’s order did not mean the suspension of the TRO.

“The TRO stays. It is the position of the court that it is immediately executory and that it continues to be effective until lifted or suspended by the court,” he said.
Speaking with reporters, De Lima said her order to the Bureau of Immigration and other government agencies to prevent the Arroyos from leaving the country would remain until the high court ruled on the DOJ appeal.

She said that in granting the Arroyos’ petition for a TRO, the tribunal had “effectively rendered moot and academic” the scheduled oral arguments and subsequent pleadings regarding the issue.

The DOJ has officially received a copy of the TRO.
Benjamin Añonuevo, a process server from the Clerk of Court, said he initially tried to serve the copy of the tribunal’s order at the DOJ docket section at around 8 a.m. Wednesday but was told to proceed to the Office of the Prosecutor General.

Since the office of Prosecutor General Claro Arellano was still closed, Añonuevo said he decided to head to the Office of the Secretary.

He said a staff member of De Lima’s office officially received the document at exactly 8:20 a.m.
2 sides to a coin.

Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz expressed confidence that the justices would eventually lift the TRO.
“I believe we have filed a solid and strong case to argue the government position,” Cadiz told reporters.
“It is the position of the government that until and unless [our appeal] is resolved and we have articulated our position in our comment and oral argument, the Arroyos cannot leave,” he said.

Accompanied by state lawyers, Cadiz attended a three-hour, closed-door meeting with De Lima and other government officials to map out their legal strategy.

He said the justices should take a second look at their decision to grant the Arroyos’ petition for injunctive relief “for them to see our reason and logic.”

“There’s always two sides to a coin. We think that once they read our appeal and comment, [they will see] that the TRO should not be effective immediately and should be rescinded,”  he said.

As to the possibility that the impasse on Arroyo’s foreign trip may result in a constitutional crisis, Cadiz said: “I don’t think so. That’s something we are looking at, and that is not something that’s on the horizon.”

Tough battle
Malacañang is ready for a potentially tough battle with the Supreme Court, but is ruling out a constitutional crisis with the judiciary.

“We’re prepared to do what we believe is right and legal,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said when asked if the executive branch was prepared to go head to head with the judiciary over the issue that has caught the attention of the foreign media.

He said the President was standing by De Lima’s order to bar Arroyo from leaving the country despite the TRO from the high court, and was in agreement with De Lima’s position that the travel ban would stay until the tribunal ruled on the DOJ’s motion for reconsideration.

“We think we stand on solid legal ground in taking the actions that we have,” Carandang told reporters.
He said the legal justifications presented by Arroyo for her travel were not justified, and hence, she posed a “flight risk.”

He argued that the issuance of the TRO was announced in a press conference but was never delivered to the DOJ, and that the government had the right to take legal action.
Carandang squelched speculation that the standoff would lead to a constitutional crisis.

“I wouldn’t call it that at this point. I think you have one interpretation of the law from the Arroyo camp and one interpretation of the law from the government, and there are ways that this can be resolved,” he said.
Carandang also denied that the government was persecuting the Arroyos.

“No, it is accountability. We were elected in part to extract accountability from public officials of the past administration. We are simply doing what we promised to people we would do. And I think, if you look at public opinion, it is squarely behind us,” he said. A

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