Press Release
October 11, 2011

Transcript of interview with Senator Santiago
on the Supreme Court decision recalling its decision
ordering the reinstatement of PAL flight attendants

The Supreme Court decision which recalls the prior decision on a second motion for reconsideration is extremely unfortunate. The Supreme Court is teetering on the abyss of incredulity. Public credibility must be maintained at any cost. The wife of Caesar must be seen as doing good, but in addition she must be believed to be doing good.

I say this for three reasons: Number one, according to the internal rules of the Supreme Court, no second motion for reconsideration must be filed without prior permission from the Court. So you file two documents--first, a motion pleading with the Court to allow for a second motion for reconsideration, then you file your second motion for reconsideration. My question is Was there an order from the Supreme Court allowing this second motion for reconsideration? It was not even formatted as a second motion for reconsideration, but as a mere letter. If it was a motion for reconsideration, then the second party should necessarily have been informed. Notice and hearing are always part of due process. If an attorney files a mere letter, there is no obligation on the part of the Supreme Court to ask the other party to comment or to at least rebut the contents of that letter. So I want to know if there was a prior permission given for a second motion for reconsideration since that is a provision of the internal rules of the Supreme Court itself. That was done because the decision of the Second Division said that no other procedure should be entertained (or words to that effect), meaning to say that at that point the Supreme Court was tired of all the fuss the case was taking. It was taking thirteen years. It has three, at least, declarations from the Supreme Court. It affects 1,400 members of the labor as against management. So how can you possibly declare in one breath that this is final, no other procedure shall be entertained, and then entertain an ordinary letter? What credibility would be left?

The second point is this: the Supreme Court in its internal rules says there should be no second motion for reconsideration except 1) when the original decision is legally erroneous. So you have to ask yourself, Was the issuance of the Second Division, regardless of technicality involved, legally erroneous? Kasi labintatlong taon iyan nakabinbin. Second, there could be an exception only if the decision is patently unjust. So you have to ask yourself, Was the decision of the Second Division patently unjust? The third exception is when the original decision sought to be reconsidered will probably work irreparable damage or injury. Those are the three requisites of the Supreme Court, so the Supreme Court only has to do is to look into its own internal rules and see if these three requirements have been complied.

My third point is this: according to the Rules of Court, the Rules must be liberally construed. So let us assume for the sake of argument that the decision is issued by wrong division, will that technicality now suffice to overturn thirteen years of legislative research and analysis on this problem? I am angry because as a citizen, I fear that the citizenry might turn its back on the Supreme Court, the bulwark of our civil liberties. If the Supreme Court loses its credibility in this instance, it will be impossible to regain it in a number of years. So I am saying that the Supreme Court should take remedial steps. Number one, it should clear up its internal rules on second motion on reconsiderations. Is it allowed or isn't it allowed? Since the record of the Supreme Court is spotty, there are cases where the SUPREME COURT said "we are ruling with finality," and then accepts a second motion for reconsideration. If that is not allowed then say so, just omit that provision in its internal rules about second motions. Dapat first motion pa lang tama na. Dun pa lang sa pleading ng mga parties na yan, in their memorandum just before the case is closed, they tried to submit all their arguments. That's why a first motion for reconsideration should be more than sufficient. Dapat nililista nila lahat ng argumento nila. Ngayon dahil tao lang tayo at nagkakamali, pagbigyan natin ng first motion for reconsideration. But a second motion for reconsideration even after the decision said itself that it was final and executory and no other pleading will be accepted? How can that be justified to the Filipino people?

And how can one mere letter suffice as a pleading in a Supreme Court case? You are not allowed to talk to a Supreme Court justice. When you send a letter, in effect you are communicating with them. You are not allowed to do that, you have to file motions because under the rules, when one party files a motion, the other party must be given a copy and must be given a chance to rebut the arguments in that motion. That's the problem with that pleading.

They say the decision was influenced by PAL management?

That can no longer be helped. It's out of our hands already. Let the public judge, because the public is literate. They can read the three requirements for a second motion for reconsideration. We can all apply each in our own conscience the rules to this situation.

What can Supreme Court do?

It has to attend to this case and then attend to its rules on motions for reconsideration.

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