SC to Luisita: Wait for court action

Manila, Philippines – The compromise agreement between Hacienda Luisita and its farmers does not automatically resolve their dispute before the Supreme Court.

Jose Midas Marquez, SC spokesman, said there is a possibility that the Supreme Court would still act on the long-standing dispute between the management of the hacienda and its farmers.

“Once the court assumes jurisdiction over a particular case, a petition filed would not be moot just because a compromise has been reached among the parties. The case would still be subject to the final review of the court,” Marquez explained. The spokesman also gave the assurance that the court would review the compromise agreement and make sure it would be beneficial to both parties, adding that there have been previous agreements that are one-sided.

Palace stands pat on E.O. No. 2

MALACAÑANG on Thursday stood pat on its issuance of Executive Order No. 2 revoking “midnight appointments” made by the previous administration saying these violated the “intent and spirit of the constitutional ban on midnight appointments.”

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo De Mesa brushed aside former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s camp’s claim that E.O. No. 2 was unconstitutional because the appointments were made well before the ban took effect on March 10, 2010 or 45 days before the May 10 national elections.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday afternoon, De Mesa told reporters that the Supreme Court had, in several instances, already ruled on the issue when it nullified such appointments which took effect during the prohibition period as prescribed in the Constitution.

He explained that even though these so-called midnight appointments were made before March 10 or prior to the prohibition, the appointee was only able to assume office on the days when the ban had taken effect.

“The issue has been long settled by the SC itself when it prescribed that an appointment is a two-way process. It has to be accepted by the appointee and the appointee must take his oath (of office),” De Mesa said.

“So the SC has, in a very, very old case, already nullified appointments made during the prohibition period or which were not completed before the prohibition period,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the former President’s camp opted to “literally” interpret the provision banning midnight appointments.

“Our position is to take the spirit behind the provision which is that those appointments were made in violation of the spirit of the Constitution,” Lacierda added.

“As what Sec. De Mesa said, it is a two-way process. You have to have offer and acceptance,” Lacierda said, adding, “It is basic in administrative law, and it has already been settled several times in the Supreme Court. (PIA-Bohol)

High Court slams Luisita – SC: 13th mo. pay cut a badge of bad faith

Manila, Philippines — The Supreme Court has ruled that the sugar mill in the plantation owned by President Aquino’s family had acted in “bad faith” when it’s workers 13th month pay was reduced following the violent strike that resulted to the death of 14 people.

In a July 26 unanimous decision released yesterday, the court’s second division ordered Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT) to honor its long-established formula in computing the bonus.

Observing that the benefit enjoyed for over 30 years was only reduced after the violent strike that happened in 2004, the Supreme Court declared that “this act of petitioner in changing the formula at this time cannot be sanctioned as it indicates a badge of bad faith”.

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1st batch of Supreme Court aspirants face JBC

The first round of the Judicial and Bar Council’s interviews for those vying for a Supreme Court seat began on Monday.

Scheduled to face the council in the morning are Court of Appeals Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid, Court of Tax Appeals Presiding Justice Ernesto Acosta, and Court of Tax Appeals Associate Justice Lovell Bautista.

Court of Appeals Associate Justices Mariflor Castillo and Japar Dimaampao are set to face the JBC in the afternoon.

The Judicial and Bar Council is the constitutionally created body tasked to vet, screen, and nominate to the President appointees to vacant positions in the judiciary.

There are 28 people vying for the vacant Supreme Court post left by Renato Corona when he assumed the Chief Justice post last May 17.

The 1987 Constitution says that a vacancy in the high tribunal must be filled up within 90 days. This means that President Benigno Aquino III has until August 17, or 90 days after Corona’s appointment, to name his first Supreme Court appointee.

Earlier, SC administrator and spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said the JBC might submit its shortlist of nominees to Mr. Aquino by the first week of August. (PIA-Bohol)

SC orders full probe on Jonas Burgos’ disappearance

THE Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct an extensive investigation into the disappearance of political activist Jonas Burgos three years ago.

In a 16-page resolution, the high court also expressed dissatisfaction with the findings of the military and police regarding Burgos’ disappearance, saying this was the reason why it cannot rule yet on the petition for amparo filed by Jonas’ mother, Edita.

Edita was asking the court to reverse the July 17, 2008 ruling of the Court of Appeals dismissing the case against soldiers believed to be behind the kidnapping.

“Considering the findings of the CA and our review of the records of the present case, we conclude that the [Philippine National Police] and the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] have so far failed to conduct an exhaustive and meaningful investigation into the disappearance of Jonas Burgos; and to exercise the extra ordinary diligence (in the performance of their duties) that the Rule on the Writ Amparo requires,” the Supreme Court ruled.

The court gave the CHR 90 days within which to submit its report and recommendations to the Court. It also directed the commission to provide Mrs. Burgos and the respondents a copy of its report.

Burgos, son of the late freedom fighter Jose Burgos, was abducted April 28, 2007 allegedly by military personnel while he was having lunch at a restaurant inside Ever Gotesco Mall in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. (PIA-Bohol)