Truth Commission declared illegal: sets the tone for direct conflict

December 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Strike three. This is how a Philippine legislator described the latest legal defeat suffered by the Aquino administration. Yesterday, the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the Executive order creating the Truth Commission. The Commission is supposed to investigate alleged excesses of the Arroyo administration. However, the ruling will now stymie efforts of the government to look into the nefarious deals entered by the previous dispensation.

The palace admits it is a setback. Justice secretary Leila de Lima however, assures the public that they will form a body that would look into the deals entered by the previous regime. The DOJ is empowered to investigate cases, however, the Constitution has specifically pinpointed the body tasked to investigate those with government officials involved and that is, the Office of the Ombudsman. There are perceptions that the Ombudsman has been “neutralized” because the head of this office is a close friend of the First Gentleman.

So even if the DOJ forms a task force, their investigation will just be questioned due to lack of jurisdiction. The only remedy is for the government to encourage the impeachment of the Ombudsman.

This is the third legal setback of this government. First, the SC issued a status quo order supporting the Ombudsman. The second was concurring with the appeal of the Ombudsman against attempts at impeaching her. And now this.

Actually, even prior to this, the administration again committed a grave mistake when it gave the Senate an erroneous list of mutineers and rebels open for amnesty. The list, unfortunately, included Senator Gregorio Honasan. The palace defended the list saying that it came from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the DOJ.

So, what now?

 

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