Tit for tat between co-equal branches of government

 

branches in govtWe all know that in our democratic form of government there exist three co-equal branches, namely, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.

They have different functions yet they are co-equal in the sense that their autonomy and authority are not supposed to be higher than the other.

Co-equal also means that their performances are anchored on the basis of competency, honesty and integrity while believing that their existence is following the principle of check-and-balance in government.

But, being co-equal also means that one can go tit for tat with the other especially if it is perceived that an adverse treatment has been decided following the doctrine of check-and-balance.

There is no more dramatic example than what happened recently when the Judiciary branch ruled some of the acts and practices by the Executive branch on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

While the ruling was not received well by Malacañang, with President Aquino (PNoy) making a lot of noise and showing his hurt, the latter finally relented bowing to the constitutional mandate of the Judiciary to decide matters impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, pressures, or interferences.

PNoy’s supporters, however, in the Legislative branch, specifically at the Lower House, did not like what they saw. They plotted that in their own time they would retaliate and deliver the same nasty treatment at the Judiciary – a tit for tat.

And so the House committee on justice headed by Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. invited Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to attend the deliberation of a measure concerning the judiciary. It was actually an inquiry into the SC’s Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) under House Bill 4690 which seeks to amend Presidential Decree 1949 or the law that created the JDF.

House Bill 4690 initiated by Tupas is described as ‘An act reforming the administration of the JDF, mandating transparency and accountability in the administration thereof, transferring the administration thereof from the Supreme Court to the Bureau of Treasury, enacting appropriate audit and reportorial requirements.’

The JDF was created by virtue of Presidential Decree 1949, dated July 18, 1984 “in order to preserve and enhance the independence of the judiciary at all times and safeguard the integrity of its members,” being the lone apolitical branch of government.

Sereno, however, snubbed the hearing, calling it premature and reminding Congress instead that Judiciary was a co-equal branch of government and inviting its head to a public hearing would be inappropriate.

Premature, inappropriate, or whatever, the fact is that Sereno didn’t want to fall into the trap set by the House for her.

Perhaps she knew that, like the Executive branch, the Judiciary has also been found to be tainted with anomaly and, thus, not really above suspicion.

“All [the SC] can do is see if the law is constitutional or not. The SC has no power to legislate. That’s why it has no power to generate its own funds,” House justice committee vice chairman Rodolfo Farinas said in an interview.

So there you go.

A simple case of the pot calling the kettle black.

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