Ex-Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban equates the magistrates’ potential favoring of Senator Grace Poe in her citizenship issue to attaining what he calls “judicial greatness”.
Panganiban, who has previously wrote on backing Poe’s presidential candidacy, hailed Solicitor General Florin Hilbay in his Inquirer column for basically defending the lady politiko’s right to run despite her being a foundling.
“Judging from the gutsy ‘Comment’ filed by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay in the Supreme Court, I believe he, too, has seen the moment for judicial greatness,” wrote the respected magistrate on Sunday, January 10.
“Given his sterling track record as a bar topnotcher and law professor and my personal knowledge of his writing ability and excellent reports as a court attorney 15 years ago, Hilbay—if he were a sitting jurist—can, in my humble view, rise to the moment and craft a grand historic decision,” reckoned Panganiban.
Last week, Hilbay made headlines when he chose to support an earlier ruling of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) declaring Poe a natural-born Filipino citizen, and thus eligible to run for the Palace seat this May.
This, despite another decision from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc that sought to cancel Poe’s candidacy due to her questionable citizenship. The senator’s camp subsequently secured temporary restraining orders (TROs) from the SC, it can be recalled.
An appeal of the SET ruling as well as the Comelec disqualification cases against Poe are pending before the High Tribunal.
Panganiban somewhat challenged the SC to rise to the occasion by basing their ultimate decision on Poe’s fate “beyond the text’ of the law.
“The texts of the governing laws neither include nor exclude foundlings in their lists of citizens. The facts of her residency are torn between her mistaken computation in her 2013 certificate of candidacy for the Senate and the truth that she actually transferred her domicile to the Philippines as early as 2005.
“I believe her case presents a rare moment for judicial greatness for those who see beyond the text,” he said.
Panganiban went on to mention several legal notions that favor the independent bet’s candidacy.
“The grand axiom ‘Salus populi est suprema lex’ (the welfare of the people is the supreme law) may be invoked “extra-constitutionally” (beyond the constitutional text) to render social justice, famously wrote the eminent Justice Jose P. Laurel.
“Frivaldo vs Comelec teaches that ‘in case of doubt in the interpretation of constitutional and legal provisions involving popular sovereignty, it is best to interpret such provisions in a manner that enables our electorate to elect freely their leaders,'” the former Chief Justice wrote.
“The presumptions of good faith, nondiscrimination and regularity in the performance of duties undoubtedly benefit her,” he further said, referring to Poe. (Jeffrey N. Hardel)