CJ Sereno may have a point but Binay lawyers are still Correct!

SerenoLast week, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno scolded Makati Mayor Junjun Binay’s lawyers for basing their case on a “wrong doctrine”. The doctrine in question, is the Aguinaldo doctrine, which the Philippine Supreme Court itself has established and implemented since 1959. Justices Antonio Carpio and Estela Perlas-Bernabe held a much more level-headed view of raising the possibility of reviewing such an antiquated doctrine. As much as I agree with the points raised by the honorable magistrates, I cannot blame the Binay lawyers for using the Court-established doctrine in defending their client.

Dean Pacifico Agabin described the Aguinaldo doctrine as the doctrine that states that:

“…offenses committed, or acts done, during a previous term are generally held not to furnish cause for removal and this is specially true where the Constitution provides that that the penalty in the proceeding for removal shall not extend beyond removal from office, and disqualification from holding office for a term for which the officer was elected or appointed.

…the Court should never remove from office for acts done prior to his present term. To do otherwise would be to deprive the people of their right to elect their officers.

When a people have elected a man to office, it must be assumed that they did this with knowledge of his life and character, and that they disregarded or forgave his fault or misconduct, if he had any.

It is not for the court, by reason of such fault or misconduct, to practically overrule the will of the people.”

So looking at things objectively, the Binay lawyers’ case has merit as it is based on jurisprudence. So why should they be scolded for using an established legal doctrine? It is one thing to call for a review of a questionable law or doctrine, it is another thing to berate lawyers for using it. As retired SC Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza said:

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“And under the doctrine of stare decisis, that is the law until by force of better reasoning, the Court erred in adopting the doctrine and decides to overrule the doctrine”

Besides, as San Beda Graduate School Law Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino also pointed out:

“Appearances of siding with a theory or a party should be avoided…

Usually, chief justices just listen when oral arguments are held, but maybe Chief Justice Sereno wanted to seize the opportunity to express herself against the condonation doctrine…

(the doctrine) remains applicable until revoked…

What the Supreme Court can do is abandon it. But until abandoned, it is the doctrine that binds all of the government.”

Based on these points, I don’t see anything wrong with Mayor Binay’s lawyers using it to defend their client.

Now should the Supreme Court of the Philippines abandon such a flawed and antiquated doctrine? Perhaps. However, if they do so I think they will have to deal with questions regarding a seemingly unbalanced and inconsistent use of judicial power. Afterall, if this doctrine would be stricken out and be used to deny Mayor Binay’s case then does this pave the way for President Noynoy Aquino’s and Secretary Butch Abad’s acquittal for their misuse of public funds through the unconstitutional DAP? Afterall, their judgment was based on the High Court’s ground of “Doctrine of Operative Fact” wherein:

“Acts done pursuant to a law which was subsequently declared unconstitutional remain valid, but not when the acts are done after the declaration of unconstitutionality.”

One can certainly argue that the Doctrine of Operative Fact can also undermine the Constitutional mandate of promoting honesty and integrity in public service. With that doctrine, PNoy and Sec. Abad can go scot-free for the wrong acts they have committed prior to the declaration of the DAP as unconstitutional. Why strike down the Aguinaldo Doctrine and not the Doctrine of Operative Fact if they can both undermine the promotion of honesty and integrity in public service – which is the main argument of CJ Sereno in opposing the Aguinaldo Doctrine?

(Image taken from gmanews.tv)

19 Replies to “CJ Sereno may have a point but Binay lawyers are still Correct!”

  1. LOL, this is idiocy at its artistic best/worst? A ‘Doctrine’ is now a law? A doctrine is NOT a law,it is an unwritten rule. It is a way of doing things and kinda like ‘Protocol’,which is defined as a correct way of doing things when dealing with ‘Heads of State’/’Dignitaries’.
    Since it is an opinion held by many(?) that all Filipino politicians are lying thieves and that they are all guilty of theft. Hence, there can be no Doctrine or Protocol provided where those considered are considered as thieves and liars. Hence, can not be considered ‘Dignitaries’ and no such treatment be afforded.

    THE LAW SHOULD PREVAIL, throw away the key after they are all locked up !

    1. I’m sorry, that is erroneous. From Philippine Legal Standpoint, doctrines espoused by the supreme court in its decisions are law. Article 8 of the New Civil Code is instructive:

      “Art. 8. Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines. (n)”

      Therefore, the Aguinaldo Doctrine is law as we know it.

      I must agree with your sentiments though. The best thing for us is to train ourselves not to be a “forgiving electorate”. Those who appear to have done wrong during their term must never be reelected, prosecuted and jailed.

      1. @ DICK, Dude, if it is not a law it is not a law, it is simple as that. There is no ‘if there is this, then there is that’ and ‘therefore…’ mentality when it comes to law. IT EITHER IS A LAW OR ITS NOT.A Doctrine is not a law. But hey, maybe it is in the Philippines. Its the most corrupted place I’ver ever been to,bar none. So maybe in tht fucked up country it is, anywhere else I’ve ever been to??? the whole concept of Doctrine as an enforceable ,or determinant of ,LAW is laughable.

        1. Laughable it may be. But the fact of the matter is, doctrines espoused by the supreme court in the cases that it tackes does form a part of the laws of our country. I know this may seem alien because we were led to believe that it is only statute books that contain the law. And indeed, that is what we get from being a civil law country. But American rule has made us a part common law country as well, which is why decisions of the supreme court are taken as laws (which is what happens stateside).

          If you don’t want this to be the “law” then you could suggest to your nearest congressional representative to have Art.8 of the civil code stricken out.

  2. So Mendoza’s support of the ‘doctrine’ is that, even if a Man breaketh the law, the doctrine is used as a sort of ‘GET OUT OF JAIL FREE’ card. LOL, this is too much !!!! Filipino’s now need a written law to invalidate an unwritten doctrine, LOL !!!!

    AND FILIPINO’s scratch their collective heads and wonder why their country remains a 3rd world sewer and places like China,Singapore and Japan have all prospered post WW2 ! For this very reason the RP remains a festering sewage pit.

    if that is so, then its Time to change that RAG !!!

  3. Using an unwritten law to usurp the power of the Philippine Constitution, seems plausible……………..Only in a failed state!!!

    This is truly the best of scams yet !!! An End run around the Constitution of the country using a law that pre-dates the Constitution of the country! BWAH HA HA HA HA HA !!!!
    OMG, my ribs hurt from laughing too much,seriously….I cant stop! !! ! ! ! !BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!

  4. When Cory assumed power from Marcos, her very first act after declaring a revolutionary government should have been to review flawed legal doctrines like the Aguinaldo Law which can be invoked by politicians but instead what she and her kamag-anak Inc, friends and oligarch friends were focused on looting what Marcos looted.

    What is a 1987 Constitution for if the flawed legal doctrines and concepts are still there. And this same Constitution has overly protected the Accused that moneyed influential persons even if blatantly universally considered guilty will eventually found NOT GUILTY based on the Rules of Court partial to them ?

    And in our existing legal system, the poor are virtually denied justice with common criminals just sent to heaven by politicians like Duterte ahead of Us and riding-in-tandem assassins the cheapest way to impose the death penalty on anyone.

    1. That’s right, Space Kid. I think you just gave valid points on why it may be necessary to revisit the flaws of our present day Constitution. Thanks for reading!

  5. If the doctrine was so repulsive and objectionable, the SC only has itself to blame.

    Sereno should have simply waited for the chance to overturn the doctrine through a decision and should have resisted the urge the scold the lawyers for correctly relying on an established legal doctrine. It’s unusual, to say the least, for a Justice to so forcefully voice his/her own opinion before a case is decided. Normally, they take great care not to appear partial for or against a party.

    But hey, everything is political nowadays and the long knives are out for the Binays.

  6. Unfortunately, I am not a Lawyer. Doctrines are beliefs, accepted as good by cultures and societies. The Radical Islamic Doctrine that: if you blow yourself and the infidels. You will have immediate entrance to Paradise. And make love to 72 virgins in eternity, is accepted by Islamic Radicals.

    So, Doctrines, can be good or bad. Some became basis of laws enacted. Christian Religious Doctrines led to the Inquisition.

    Some corrupt people use Doctrines, to get off the hook of their crookedness. Aquino and Abad will be good examples.

    1. Hello Hayden. I think the laws (much like Holy Scriptures) are often used as tools for an end. People (good or bad) can use the law to support or promote their goals and objectives. Thanks for reading!

  7. It just goes to show that we have too many lawyers with too many defective laws/doctrines….

    Imagine if Satan were to run for public office in the Philippines, he would be eligible and probably would win because our laws and lawyers would let him.

  8. Any doctrine that will not bear investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man. Any doctrine that will not bear investigation is not a fit tenant for the mind of an honest man. Any man who is afraid to have his doctrine investigated is not only a coward but a hypocrite.

    It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished.

    But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

    1. Hi d_forsaken! I also think that it is fair game for the SC to revisit this doctrine. But it is one thing to revisit it and another thing to chastise the Binay lawyers for using it. Thanks for reading!

  9. I agree with Dick S. O’Rosary. As far as the Philippines Legal standpoint is concerned, the doctrine is law. In addition, according to Wikipedia:

    “A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test often established through precedent in the common law, through which judgments can be determined in a given legal case. A doctrine comes about when a judge makes a ruling where a process is outlined and applied, and allows for it to be equally applied to like cases. When enough judges make use of the process soon enough it becomes established as the de facto method of deciding like situations.”

    The Aguinaldo doctrine has been used in various cases similar to Mayor Binay’s case so in this regard there is precedent. We may not like its use in this case (or any other cases) but this doctrine remains in effect until it gets revisited and revoked. But until then Binay’s lawyers were correct to use the doctrine in defending their client.

    I think the problem lies with the “is-ought” problem that many people seem to fail to see.

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