Press Release
May 17, 2010


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional law expert, said that the issue of Chief Justice Renato Corona's assumption to office has already been laid to rest under the doctrine of res judicata, meaning that it can no longer be relitigated in court, because it has already been decided with finality.

"After the Supreme Court decision in De Castro v. Judicial and Bar Council last March, which settled the issue, any petition is now precluded, on the theory of so-called collateral estoppel," she said.

Santiago warned critics to obey the rule of law, which she defined as "the doctrine that general constitutional principles are the result of judicial decisions determining the right of private individuals in the courts."

"The problem with the critics is that they mistake the law as it is; with the law as it ought to be, according to their layman's interpretation. A line has to be drawn between the rule of law and the dystopian concept of freewheeling ethics," she said.

Santiago cited a widely-acclaimed lecture on "The Rule of Law," by Lord Bingham printed in the 2007 Cambridge Law Journal, defining the rule of law as: "All persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly and prospectively promulgated and publicly administered in the courts."

Santiago said she discussed the rule of law with Lord Bingham in the British House of Lords in London, which functions as a Supreme Court, during her campaign for the International Court of Justice.

Santiago accused the Corona critics of "doctrinal confusion."

The senator quoted John Locke's dictum that "Wherever law ends, tyranny begins," and Thomas Payne's dictum that "The law is king."

"In the United States today, controversies exist over what criteria are appropriate in the selection of justices. The US President nominates, but his nominees need the advice and consent of the Senate. The US Senate have not yet settled the limits of their power. One group believes that only questions of ethics and professional competence should be considered. Another group believes that ideological and philosophical considerations are more important," she said.

The senator said that in the selection process for justices, numerous criteria operate, such as representational, partisan and political, personal, professional, and ideological concerns.

"It is naïve to think that the appointment process is not politicized. American presidents have emphasized partisan and political motivations, and have relied on personal relationships. For example, President Franklin Roosevelt sought to alter the composition of a Supreme Court that blocked his New Deal policies. He justified the court packing as an effort to avoid overworked elderly jurists," Santiago said.

Santiago lashed out at former President Ramos for issuing a press release urging Corona to decline his appointment.

"Ramos was a phony president, and his presumptuous advice is phony as well. Ramos is pretending to be moralistic, when actually he cheated the Filipino people of the presidency in 1992. If there had been automated elections, I would have been proclaimed president, because I was leading for five days, the time that it took Comelec to canvass the votes and proclaim the senators after the recent elections. By making gratuitous and self-serving statements like this, Ramos, who is not a lawyer, is simply drawing attention to himself, like a spoiled brat," she said.

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