Sunday, December 25, 2011

TRO effective sans compliance of conditions

My Christmas eve celebration was spoiled a bit by a disturbing read of a dissenting opinion of the Supreme Court that I am attaching.

I am referring to the dissenting opinion of Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in connection with the petition of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo seeking to leave the country (G.R. Nos. 199034 and 199046).
The Sereno dissent, promulgated just eleven days ago on December 13, 2011, is unprecedented in several ways.

First, I got a front seat ticket to the internal, behind-closed-doors discussions of the Supreme Court.

Second, I just learned tonight that one of the very basic and long-observed rules on issuances of Temporary Restraining Orders has just been overturned by this Supreme Court.
The basic rule is, if a condition in a TRO is not met, the TRO does not take effect.
I have experienced in law practice not observing a TRO, when one of conditions imposed by the court is not complied with.
This is a very basic procedure.
However, the Supreme Court has overturned this in its November 29, 2011 resolution in ruling that “the TRO is not suspended despite non-compliance with a condition”. I read this in Sereno’s dissent.
This resolution will have serious repercussions in the way lawyers practice law.
This means that even if a condition in a TRO is not complied with, the TRO is still effective.
But what disturbs me more is the flip-flop of the Supreme Court in arriving at this conclusion, based on the narrations of Justice Sereno.

Third, I just learned tonight there is suppression of freedom of speech in the Supreme Court even on its own justices.
The dissent of Justice Sereno was refused publication upon directives of the Chief Justice.
This is also the first time in my law practice that a dissenting opinion is much feared, to the point that it is refused publication and/or dissemination, to the prejudice of the public’s right to know.

Fourth, this is the first time I learned that it is possible to dissent to a dissenting opinion, or to make a “counter-dissent” as Justice Sereno puts it.
I recall in law school a case we read where a lawyer was castigated by the Supreme Court for filing a motion for reconsideration to a dissenting opinion.
A dissenting opinion is supposed to be what it is--- an opinion that dissents to a main opinion.

Its been an educational Christmas eve for me.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas in our hearts

Christmas is in the air.
But we must make sure Christmas is in our hearts too.
The true spirit of Christmas is giving.
But this time, giving should not be in the nature of exchange gifts.
So many have been distressed because of the devastation brought by typhoon Sendong.
Just yesterday, we received stories that the affected hinterland areas of Valencia, particularly Palimpinon, Puhagan, Mala-unay, Pulang-bato have been isolated from ordinary transport that is why relief has come a little slow.
This Christmas, the Lord is giving us a golden opportunity to celebrate the season the way it should be celebrated.
We are witnessing so many brothers and sisters suffering because of the typhoon.
We visited barangay Batinguel and Candau-ay and around 250 families there will be spending Christmas in the classrooms and sleeping atop desks.
We went to the wake of a family, the Balbon-Calijan family of Tubtubon Sibulan, six members of whom perished because of the typhoon’s merciless wrath.
It is a heart-wrenching, chest-crumpling story.
It is a difficult struggle already to loose a loved one.
How much more six family members at the same time, and worse, at Christmas?
The survivor-husband Nimuel Calijan, weeping in front of an array of coffins, summed it all: “This is like a terrible dream.”
This week, we saw the face of tragedy.
On the happy side, our eyes saw the generosity of many willing to help.
We also witnessed the eager response of kind hearted- individuals who just gave what they could to ease the pain of those who suffer.
“There was a call, so we came to help,” said one doctor bringing a box of relief items.
God does not physically come down from Heaven to give aid to the distressed.
He uses those fortunate to be spared as instruments to implement His works of mercy.
But the destruction is so overwhelming, that we need more help.
We suggest that you organize your group, your peers, your classmates, officemates, and team up to give.
There are still many others whose shoulders just need to be gently tapped, so they can extend help.
Sometimes, they are just waiting for someone to initiate.
Believe it or not, you and your friends can create your own little miracle, and see the spectacle of God’s amazing grace.
Let’s continue to give this Christmas.
Give without ceasing.
With that, we can truly say Christmas is in our hearts.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.