MANILA – Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, Dean of the San Beda College of Law where President Rodrigo Duterte completed his law studies, expressed concern on Monday about the Chief Executive’s recent pronouncement that he may not obey temporary restraining orders (TRO) issued by the judiciary if these stall government projects.
Duterte’s stance that effectively knocks the rule of law, said Dean Aquino, won’t lend “stability” to his governance.
He described the President’s stance as “ill-advised”.
“I’m warning the judiciary, huwag ninyong paabutin na hindi na ako maniwala sa inyo (let’s not reach the point where I lose faith in you) because that would really be a constitutional crisis,” Duterte had said in a forum in Hong Kong at the weekend. He was alluding to an instance where he described as forum shopping the apparent move by losing bidders resorting to various avenues in the courts to derail a big project involving the Philippine National Railways.
“Kasi galing na ng Supreme Court, nagalit na nga ang Supreme Court bakit hindi i-implement (The Supreme Court itself has been irked by the delay. Why is it not implemented yet)?” he asked.
“Tapos nagpunta na naman kung saan-saang korte, forum shopping, nakakita sila ngayon dito sa Court of Appeals, nag-issue na naman ng TRO … Kaya ang Pilipinas oligarchy talaga. Iyong mga mayaman nandiyan ‘yan nagpapakayaman ‘yan pero kung magsalita sila akala mo kung sino (And then they went to various courts. It’s forum shopping. They spotted an opening at the Court of Appeals to issue a TRO. That’s why I say this country is run by oligarchs. They’re here to enrich themselves).”
For his part, Dean Ranhilo said there is danger in Duterte’s statement: “Delikado ang pahayag ni Pangulong Duterte na handa itong hindi sundin ang hudikatura sakaling maglabas ito ng temporary restraining order laban sa mga government projects (It’s touchy, this thing about going against the judiciary when it comes to TROs impacting on government projects).
Besides, Aquino added, there is already a standing rule that only the Supreme Court, not a lower court, may issue a TRO favoring a losing bidder.
Still, he hoped President Duterte can move to bring clarity to his pronouncement because it doesn’t help the government, and smacks of disrespect for the judiciary.
In the interest of expediting the implementation of transportation projects, the Duterte Administration had proposed that no court except the Supreme Court may issue any TRO against the government on acquisition, clearance and development of the right-of-way, procurement, commencement, termination and authorization of other necessary lawful activities.