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RH oral arguments to test judiciary’s independence

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SC Front YardMANILA, June 21, 2013—The independence of the judiciary will be put to the test when it convenes for oral arguments early next month on the controversial reproductive health (RH) law.

The High Tribunal is set to tackle on July 9 the controversial RH bill now known as Republic Act 10354 or “An Act providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health”.

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz said there is a possibility that the Supreme Court might show its independence from the executive branch, particularly President Benigno Aquino, a known supporter of the controversial policy.

“It is a possibility that the Supreme Court would show its independence from Malacañang,” Cruz said in the vernacular. “But that is difficult to assume. What happens next, honestly I cannot say.”

Staunch anti-RH Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III said an indication of the judiciary’s independence would be “when they decide [independently] on the merits of the case and not because it’s an international commitment of the executive department.”

During the Senate debates last year on the RH bill Sotto bared foreign organizations as being behind the RH bill.

Also late last year, the website Wikileaks leaked US State Department cable implicating Washington as behind the population-control drive in the Philippines for the past 40 years.

Natural Family Planning (NFP) teacher Willy Jose however thinks the vote on the Status Quo Ante order is somewhat indicative of the SC’s independence.

“I remember reading the dissenting opinion of Justice Marvic Leonen and it looks like a mighty legal tussle and not a political one. I still believe the weight of arguments stand in our favor,” said Jose.

It can be recalled that last March 19 the SC issued a Status Quo Ante order stopping the implementation of RA 10354. Ten of the justices voted in favor of halting the law’s implementation while 5 justices voted against the issuance of status quo.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles also had expressed concern over the possibility that Malacañang might exert pressure on Supreme Court.

“I won’t be surprised. They had long prepared for that. I think they enjoyed their congressional victory that they underestimated the wounded judiciary,” said Arguelles. (CBCP for Life)


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