Just when you thought the Supreme Court was in the tank for Arroyo

I’ve been blogging the past few weeks about the various controversies involving the Philippine Supreme Court, especially its “pro-Arroyo” decision to allow the president to appoint the next chief justice.

However, the court just came out with an opinion that favors the Liberal Party, the party of frontrunner presidential candidate Aquino and critic of Arroyo (his main campaign tactic has been to criticize his opponents of having Arroyo’s blessing). The court overturned a merger of two other parties, the National People’s Coalition and Nationalista Party that would have marginalized the LP. The main reason for the decision appears to be that the two parties missed the deadline for merger. However, according to comments by LP politicians reported in the Philippine Inquirer, the questionable nature of the merger may have played a role:

Quoting from the dissenting opinion of Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, the LP insisted that the NP-NPC merger was a “sham, highly dubious and shameless.”

The LP said that even NPC chairman Faustino Dy Jr., who signed the resolution for the NP-NPC alliance for the NPC, admitted under oath that the coalition was neither approved nor ratified by the NPC National Convention, the party’s highest policy-making body, as provided in the party’s Constitution and By-Laws.

Weak facts make weak legal arguments, and it appears this was a very suspicious set of facts. Keep in mind, the NPC and NP are ideological opposites – the former is leftwing, the latter conservative – so they probably received little sympathy from the justices. More interesting will be seeing how Aquino treats the court if he becomes president, given this ruling in his favor.

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