MANILA, Philippines – Since taking over the Presidency, the Aquino administration has suffered legal setbacks one after the other.
The latest of which is the Supreme Court decision in connection with the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The question now is: Should President Benigno Aquino III reshuffle his legal team?
With barely 2 weeks before the term ends for incumbent officials in the ARMM, Malacañang is scrambling to lift a Supreme Court order, preventing the appointment of officers-in-charge in the region.
Malacañang had convinced Congress to postpone the August 8 ARMM elections, only to get stopped on its tracks by the high court.
“We are very saddened by the turn of events pero hindi pa tapos ang laban,” said Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
UP law professor and public interest lawyer Harry Roque Jr. believes such legal setbacks could be avoided if only there was better coordination in the President's legal team.
“Parang hindi nila kinonsulta ‘yung solicitor general na si Joel Cadiz. E bakit ka naman mamimili ng OIC kung wala pang desisyon dun sa kaso kung pwede ngang ma-postpone ‘yang ARMM elections na ‘yan,” said Roque.
The ARMM predicament is the latest in a growing list of Palace legal moves thwarted by the high tribunal.
The biggest rejection so far involved President Aquino's Executive Order No.1, creating a Truth Commission to investigate large scale graft and corruption during the previous administration.
The tribunal said EO 1 was unconstitutional.
EO No. 2 revoking President Arroyo's so-called "midnight appointments" also suffered a setback when the high court stopped Malacañang from enforcing it in the case of one appointee.
Legal questions also hounded Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.'s Memorandum Circular No.1, issued on the first day in office of the Aquino administration.
MC 1 dismissed officials appointed by the previous government, prompting Ochoa to issue an amendment the next day.
Roque said such legal blunders give the impression of a weak Presidential legal team.
“Kapag nagkakaroon ng impresyon na kakayan-kayanin ang mga abugado ng administrasyon, ay baka lalong dumami ang mga nagcha-challenge sa mga polisiya ng gobyerno,” said Roque.
In view of these legal setbacks, Roque said this might be a good time to review the processes and personalities in the President's legal team. - ANC