The Supreme Court decision motu proprio dismissing the case asking for the disclosure of Duterte’s state of physical and mental health WITHOUT COMMENT is only expected from a Court now dominated by Duterte appointees.
The case, Dino De Leon v. Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Disclosure: Petitioner De Leon is one of my lawyers in the drug cases), was dismissed in a 6-page Minute Resolution, with two 30-page dissenting opinions registered by Associate Justices Leonen and Caguioa. In effect, the majority of the Court were the ones who supplied the arguments for the respondent — in this case the Justices’ appointing authority, Duterte himself — in lieu of a comment from Malacañang.
While the Minute Resolution faults the petitioner for relying on news reports for evidence and as basis for its allegations on the state of Duterte’s health, the Court itself relied on the same news reports to belie the petitioner’s claims. While the Court took judicial notice of Duterte’s “regular televised addresses to the nation” as proof of Duterte’s rosy health, it refused to take judicial notice of Duterte’s own admissions about the diseases he is afflicted with and his general incoherence in the same televised addresses to the nation.
This prompted Justice Leonen to observe that in commenting for the President, the Court has seemingly abdicated its independence in exchange for servility to the appointing authority, thus, effectively making the Court useless in a Republican government’s scheme of checks and balances and independence of the judiciary from the executive.
For his part, Justice Caguiao lamented his colleagues’ “overly deferential attitude” towards Duterte as he finds “truly perplexing” the majority’s act in dispensing with a Comment from the respondent which “impacts on the public’s perception of the Court’s impartiality.”
One would wonder if the televised addresses the Court’s majority were watching were other than those viewed by the whole nation. What is incoherent to the general public appears to the Court to be a sign of the President “performing his duties.”
God save us from Justices who consider that incoherent ramblings on “the kit is the kit”, the bubonic plague and the burning of witches, the insufferable narrative on the blood of dead horses, etc., etc. are the pinnacle of presidential performance of duties.
Under ordinary circumstances, the Court’s syncing of its own rationality with the incoherent ramblings of a sick man is plainly deplorable. But under circumstances of a raging pandemic, it could prove deadly to a people who can no longer rely on the two other branches of government to act independently of the executive branch.
It is indeed our great misfortune that the pandemic has stricken us at a time when men and women of greater minds have chosen to be supplicants to a deranged one. ###
(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 847, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_no._847)