Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ignorant and Ignoble

"While the Court has taken an increasingly liberal approach to the rule of Locus Standi, it is not an open invitation for the ignorant and the ignoble to file petitions that prove nothing but their cerebral deficit.” These are the harsh words of Chief Justice Reynato Puno in dismissing the consolidated petitions - filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano and his daughter Evangeline Lozano, who is also a lawyer, and one Louis "Barok" Biraogo - that seek to nullify HR 1109.

To receive such a strong rebuke, from the chief justice no less coupled by the near unanimous approval of a court of 13, is indicative not only of the brimming legal errors attending the Lozano petition, but also of something even more despicable. To be sure, the Lozano petition is not the first to land on the doorsteps of the High Court to be thrown out for lack of a justiciable controversy. The petition recently filed by the youthful Bohol Congressman Adam Relson Jala, asking a ruling on joint voting by Congress on Charter change, easily comes to mind. That petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court in a minute resolution for prematurity also.

And there are several other cases dismissed on similar grounds, or, if not dismissed, the issues of justiciable controversy and standing are contentious, which goes to show that they are not really easily grasped concepts even among some legal practitioners specializing in constitutional law litigations.

So what made the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Puno in particular, revile at the Lozanos by indirectly calling them ignorant, ignoble and suffering from cerebral deficit? What is it that previous suitors of the court, who were equally unlearned in the fine art of engaging its attention, did not do or have to incur the court's displeasure? Is it the personality of Oliver Lozano himself - a man who has long been associated with the Marcoses - that struck a discordant note in the mind of the chief? Is it because it was Oliver Lozano, the man who has filed four defective impeachment complaints in succession against President Macapagal-Arroyo, with no conceivable purpose but to get ahead of the flock in unseating an unpopular president to gain media mileage or for defeating legally sound impeachment complaints by playing around the one-year bar on impeachment?

Chief Justice Puno did not merely content himself in stating the usual, although seemingly arcane, legal principles that are too often involved in constitutional law litigations in disposing the Lozano petition. He went as far as question the fitness of father-and-daughter Lozanos as members of the legal profession. He branded them as ignorant, presumably of the law - which could be a ground for administrative discipline for lawyers and judges alike - and ignoble, which refers to baseness of character that would make one unfit as a lawyer. Now I am not suggesting that lawyers are angels, but if one is found wanting in the qualities required by the rules of professional responsibility his or her license may be taken away.

Perhaps Chief Justice Puno was also aggravated by the possibility that Lozano's petition could be trying to add a stamp of validity to the much-hated HR 1109 by forcing the Supreme Court to indirectly declare it legal, given that the Lower House has yet to encroach on the powers of the Senate. Indeed, the chief has said in his ponencia, maybe grudgingly, that no "usurpation of power or gross abuse of discretion has yet taken place.” This somehow undercuts the public outcry against the congressmen who have been called various distasteful names, chiefly flouters of the Constitution, in approving HR 1109. With Lozano's petition out and the High Court's ruling, these congressmen can now tell their detractors with even more defiance that they did nothing illegal. What the Lozano petition purported to accomplish - to declare HR 1109 illegal - in effect made the Supreme Court give a stamp of validity to HR 1109. The quintessential Lozano at work!


Anonymous said...

i had delirium laughing my head off when i heard midas marquez on tv read chief justice' statement regarding lozanoses' cerebral deficit. classic!



baycas2 said...

Yeah, they did nothing illegal but were they being ignorant and ignoble likewise by “fomenting a Constitutional Crisis for the sake of Constitutional Clarity?”

Mr. Justice Blackstone has remarked that the intention of a law is to be gathered from the words, the context, the subject matter, the effects and consequence, or the reason and spirit of the law. He goes on to justify the remark by stating, that words are generally to be understood in their usual and most known signification, not so much regarding the propriety of grammar as their general and popular use; that if words happen to be dubious, their meaning may be established by the context, or by comparing them with other words and sentences in the same instrument; that illustrations may be further derived from the subject matter, with reference to which the expressions are used; that the effect and consequence of a particular construction is to be examined because, if a literal meaning would involve a manifest absurdity, it ought not to be adopted; and that the reason and spirit of the law, or the causes which led to its enactment, are often the best exponents of the words, and limit their application.
- Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States By Joseph Story

The 2 keys “All the Members of the Congress” (Par. 1, Sec. 1, Art. XVII) and “All the Members of the Congress, voting jointly” (Sec. 18, Art. VII) should have clinched the lawmakers’ understanding of when the Congress vote separately or jointly. Needless to say that in the former key the Congress votes separately…for why would the words “voting jointly” must be added to the latter key?

What was the intent of the commissioners when they wrote the Constitution? It’s basically to uphold bicameralism and thereby preserve check and balance.

Further to that, I believe it is their intention to safeguard the nation from ignorant and ignoble lawmakers to rape, ravish and rip the Constitution!

Jun Bautista said...

Maybe not ignorant, because it is my belief these congressmen know they cannot convene congress in joint session, let alone amend the Consti, without the Senate. They are just being stubborn and intellectually dishonest. But ignoble - yes! It is both morally
and legally wrong to create a constitutional crisis by following a clearly illegal act.

ricelander said...

I wish I had the patience you have to sift finely into the wordings of the law and share my own feeble wisdom. But I am guided by these simple straightforward realities (that, parsed properly, could pass for high-minded principles): 1) the Supreme Court has the last say 2) the Supreme Court is right even when it is wrong. Simply, it means that no matter how superior the legal arguments are, for or to the contrary, they are merely opinions, subject to the ruling of a "supreme" body. Right?

Oliver Lozano may be faulted for being deficient in the head but, hey, show us someone yet who can passionately defend Chief Justice Puno's "constructive resignation" ekek with compelling brilliance and I might applaud Puno too for his opinion on Lozano's IQ. At least, Lozano does not have a need to protect a reputation, he having none to tarnish,... but a Supreme Court Justice? Hmm. We wonder too what ever happened to the impeachment process and the noble intent of that law and fucking why it has been transformed into a 100 meter dash race where, to our collective chagrin, worms like Lozano are making a killing and living, if it does not go back to that ruling of the wise men and women of Supreme Court on a case involving one of their own, Hilario Davide. My point is: What does it really matter if we agree that white is white when a more supreme body could declare it black-- with head held up high hahaha?! Do you hear the choir singing "Respect the rule of the law... lalalala"?

Anonymous said...

Why can't these Supreme Court Justices understand... damn the formalities. The end of "... for the greater good" justifies the means.

Jun Bautista said...


Yes the SC will have the final say on whatever legal issues the nation is grappling with, but that does not mean we ought to stop weighing in and putting forth our own opinions - small as they are. Although these justices are confined in their chambers, they are as much exposed to the political realities outside and public opinion can, and does, influence them.


The SC does away with "formalities" when it choses to. It did this when, without a petition filed before it - as required by the very rules it promulgated - it administered the oath of office to GMA during EDSA II. I'm sure you are familiar with the storm of criticism that rained on the SC when this was done.

baycas2 said...

I submit that the Supreme Court and the country as a whole will ignore us — and then laugh at us all the way to the ignominious end of the 14th Congress. We shall be ignored as surely as we shall be laughed at.
- Locsin