MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - In another blow to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s administration, the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional the much trumpeted Truth Commission.
Voting 10-5, the Supreme Court ruling effectively bars the prosecution of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and other officials and parties involved in alleged scandals under the previous administration.
In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, SC Public Information Office acting chief Maria Victoria Gleoresty Guerra confirmed the SC ruling.
The justices who ruled that Executive Order 1 (EO 1) creating the Truth Commission is unconstitutional are:
- Chief Justice Renato Corona
- Teresita Leonardo-de Castro
- Arturo Brion
- Presbitero Velasco
- Diosdado Peralta
- Lucas Bersamin
- Mariano del Castillo
- Martin Villarama
- Jose Perez
- Jose Mendoza (ponente)
"The majority, among others, held that EO 1 [Executive Order 1] violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution in as much as it singles out for investigation the reports of graft and corruption in the previous administration," she said.
The 5 who dissented are:
- Associate Justices Antonio Nachura
- Antonio Carpio
- Conchita Carpio Morales
- Maria Lourdes Sereno
- Robert Abad.
INFOGRAPHIC: Truth Commission: How the Supreme Court justices voted
The high court apparently gave credence to the petition of minority lawmakers led by Rep. Edcel Lagman, who sought to have the executive fiat that created the Truth Commission quashed.
The commission, tasked to investigate the anomalies during the 9-year term of Mrs. Arroyo, was created with too much power that it has already stepped on the rights of constitutionally-created bodies, they had said.
The commission, headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., has already actually convened. It has not started investigations, however, absent a ruling from the high court.
This decision comes in a string of setbacks for the Aquino administration.
In September, the high court halted the impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. The proceedings were heavily backed by Aquino allies.
In October, finally, Aquino voiced out his dismay over the resolution after the high court issued another halt order involving another executive order.
The high court issued a status quo order in connection with the motion of Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman, 1 of 4 who filed a petition questioning the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 2.
The order revoked the so-called midnight appointments done by the previous administration.