Friday, January 02, 2009

Preserve judicial independence

It is very important to maintain and preserve the independence of the judiciary.
In college political science, we learned that there are three branches of government, i.e. the executive department, the legislative and the judiciary.
The basic political concept is that these three branches must be co-equal with, and independent of, each other.
In other words, neither department is superior, or subordinate to the other.
But is this the reality?
So let's have a reality check.
Last week we reported that the local judiciary in Cebu has ranted against what they claim is "bullying" by the local executive department, the provincial government of Cebu.
The Cebu judges refered to the threats to cut off their monthly allowances, if judges issued rulings not favorable to the local governments.
I was in Bohol a few days ago, where I also got a glimpse of the state of the independence of the local judiciary there.
The Bohol Chronicle reported that two regional trial court judges have already inhibited in a case involving the Tagbilaran city government as the respondent.
I don't know if the judges there consider cases involving the city government like "hot potatoes": Drop it at the first chance.
Ngano kaha?
Why are some judges seemingly allergic to cases that involve the city or provincial government?
Let's try to search for possible causes.
The story in Tagbilaran is that concerned citizens sued the city government alleging there is a "sweetheart deal" between the city and an investor of their public market complex.
The concerned citizens are praying for a temporary restraining order agasint the city government.
But there is yet no T.R.O. because the case is passed from one court to another (like basketball: pasa-pasa).
The latest RTC judge to inhibit in this Tagbilaran case is Judge Baudillo Dosdos, just minutes after the judge received a motion to inhibit by the concerned citizens-petitioners, according to the Bohol Chronicle.
The first judge to inhibit was executive judge Fernando Fuentes III who also inhibited himself after receiving a motion to inhibit by the city government's counsel.
The city's legal counsel cited the judge's prior inhibition in cases involving the city government.
Why does this good judge inihibit when a case involving the city government is raffled to him?
Ah, I forgot.
There was a motion to inihibt.
So, inhibit.
Sometimes, I can't help but liken and "analogize" inhibition as a nice and convenient parachute.
In the local level, is the judiciary co-equal, or subordinate to the other branch of governemnt?
This question lingered in my mind during the holidays.
From my end, I was concerned.
So, I was prompted to write Judge Gabriel T. Ingles RTC Branch 58 of Cebu.
Judge Ingles is the designated spokesman for Cebu judges, as they express their sentiments against moves to undermine judicial independence.
I expressed my support and solidairty to Cebu judges in their moves to threaten judicial independence.
Below is my letter to Judge Ingles.

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