Who follows court orders these days?
Take a look at these headlines the past days:
CEBU SCHOOL DEFIES COURT ORDER ON BIKINI GRADUATES
DE LIMA DEFIES COURT
The first headline was about officials of St. Theresa’s College in Cebu defying the temporary restraining order issued by Cebu City Regional Trial Court Judge Wilfredo Navarro directing the school to cease and desist from enforcing the penalties on five students graduating from highschool for posting in Facebook photos in a bikini and in poses which school authorities considered “lewd.”
STC Cebu decided not to allow the five students to join the graduation rites although they can get their diploma.
STC Cebu officials said they are not to execute the court order because they have filed a motion for reconsideration.
The second headline was about Justice Secretary Leila de Lima defying the order of Manila RTC Branch 26 Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr to open for inspection the vehicle National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Reynaldo Esmeralda was riding in when he was ambushed last Feb. 21.
The order was issued in connection with the grant for a writ of amparo petitioned by former NBI director Magtanggol Gatdula he was going to be framed for the Esmeralda ambush.
Some quarters observed that the Feb. 21 incident looked scripted and an “ambush me” operation.
De Lima happened to be at the NBI compound when the sheriff together with Gatdula’s lawyer arrived to carry out the vehicle inspection order. She said it cannot be implemented because their motion for reconsideration seeking the dismissal of the writ and the orders is still pending in court.
Lawyers we have talked with said a motion for reconsideration does not bar the execution of the court order.
I will not touch on the merits of both cases. The point raised here is that, if De Lima can get away defying court order, why should anybody be held in contempt for doing the same?
Actually, this is not the first time that De Lima acted above and beyond the court. Nov. 15 last year, she ignored the TRO issued by the Supreme Court on her watch order list which she used to prevent Gloria Arroyo from leaving for Singapore.
There was no hold departure order on Arroyo because at that time De Lima’s office had not filed a single case against Arroyo, more than one- year- and- a -half that the Aquino government had assumed power.
De Lima was applauded for what many considered a decisive and courageous act of preventing the much-disliked former leader from leaving the country for good and escaping her accountability to the Filipino people even if she resorted to shortcutting the law to make up for her failure to file cases against Arroyo.
That’s probably the reason why Malacañang last Tuesday was confident that they could get away with defying again the order of Palawan Judge Angelo Arizala to arrest former Gov. Joel Reyes for the murder of broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega last January.
Wednesday Interior Secretary Jesses Robredo said they will wait for Reyes to surrender and serve the warrant “weekend.” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the leniency is out of deference to the Reyes’ position as former governor.
Some speculate that Malacañang is lenient towards Reyes because he is protected by Palawan Governor Abraham Mitra who is member of the Liberal Party, President Aquino’s party.
The National Union of Journalist of the Philippines, in a strongly worded statement, asked:
“How can Malacanang explain this ‘deference’ for a former governor, which contrasts so glaringly with the zeal it has displayed in going after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a former president no less, and to Renato Corona, the incumbent Chief Justice?
“Besides, the last time we looked, not even being an incumbent official can spare one from arrest for a crime, especially not a capital offense like murder.”
Robredo now said he has ordered the arrest of Reyes.
NUJP President Nestor Burgos said, “We will not even demand an explanation from Malacanang, for there simply can be no explanation, much less justification, for how it could countenance a perversion of the law and of justice.
“What we do demand is that Edwin Lacierda – who, we ought to point out is a lawyer – face the family of Gerry Ortega, who have fought so hard and so long to see those accused of his murder face trial, and tell them why this accursed government believed ‘deference’ for a former governor so important it was willing to break the law and withhold justice for the life of a good man.
“And, yes, Lacierda should also face the families of all victims of extrajudicial murders and tell them why, in heaven’s name, they would be better off waiting in vain for this government to give them justice instead of seeking it elsewhere.
“And they have the temerity to wonder why people rebel?”