MANILA, Philippines - (4th UPDATE) Many trial courts in Manila and across the country suspended sessions on Wednesday as a sign of support for embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The judges asked for understanding from the public, stressing they also need to support their institution that is under attack.
In an interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com, Manila Regional Trial Court Judges Association President Antonio Eugenio said sessions at the Manila court did not push through Wednesday morning. “Most likely, the sessions this afternoon will be suspended as well,” he said.
He said they are asking for the understanding of litigants for this one day of protest. “We’ve already asked the lawyers and they understand,” he said.
He said some 500 from the Manila courts will troop to the High Court starting 12 noon, wearing black.
“This is a sign of our indignation,” Eugenio said. He said Manila courts will go back to session on Thursday.
In a separate interview with ANC, Batangas Trial Court Branch 83 Judge Marjorie Uyengco-Nolasco said she received an advisory yesterday the courts across the country are going on a holiday.
She said she received a text advisory circulated on Tuesday, saying courts would be declaring a holiday. She said they later asked Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez if they could declare a holiday and not be sanctioned.
She said it was sanctioned by the Office of the Court Administrator “in response to clamor from the judges on how we can show our support…When [Corona] was impeached, we were contacting the OCA how we can show our support. This is the best way we can do it.”
She explained, however, that some of the personnel from the Batangas court “will go to the Supreme Court later on our own volition in support of the CJ.”
Impact on judiciary's work
In Quezon City, some courts will accept transactions only until 1:00 p.m. today.
Quoting Clerk of Court Enrico Bandilla, dzMM’s Johnson Manabat said the halting of sessions is not mandatory.
Some employees and court officials will voluntarily go to the high court this afternoon. He said many of them are already wearing black.
The same scenario is also playing out in Pasay.
Earlier, Commission on Elections Benjamin Abalos’ camp said they will not be able to file today any motion in connection to his arrest due to the supposed court holiday.
The Maguindanao massacre trial in Taguig has also been suspended.
Some trial courts in Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo will also be protesting.
Meanwhile, Corona will address the nation at 2:00 this afternoon.
Eugenio on Tuesday likened the impeachment of Corona to Adolf Hitler’s era.
“They act by sheer numbers. They act on the basis of popularity. They measure that popularity is always right. But remember history: when Hitler assumed power in Germany, he was the most popular figure and trampled upon the rights of everyone because he was popular. We all know what happened to Adolf Hitler," Eugenio had said.
Malacanang: Subverting justice
In Malacañang, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “The sudden declaration of a court holiday on December 14, 2011 is yet another example of how justice can be subverted to further the interest of one.”
He added: “Court hearings set for today have been cancelled—there are even reports that hearings on the Maguindanao massacre case have been reset—so that court employees can attend a hastily planned rally this afternoon in support of Chief Justice Corona. If this is true, then one must ask if the judiciary is not being manipulated into participating in one man’s personal issues.”
He also said: “We call on Chief Justice Corona, should he deny that a court holiday has been declared, to order them back to work and let not slow to a grinding halt the wheels of justice. We call on members of the judiciary to not let themselves be used to further the political agenda of one man and his patron.”
‘You started this’
Uyengco-Nolasco dismissed Lacierda’s claims, saying “don’t lay the blame on us. We did not start this.”
She said court officials and employees have no other means to show their protest. “[To the public], please understand this is our sign of support.”
She assured the public: “We’re doing our best to speed up the wheels of justice where justice is due.”
She also told Corona, a native of Batangas: “Don’t give in to pressures for you to resign. Be strong enough to face the impeachment court. We know in the end that you will be vindicated.”