More on Philippine executive-judicial relations

It seems the Aquino administration has begun its term in office not by trashing the judiciary, but trying to tell it what to do. In two recent incidents, the executive has been accused of asking the judiciary to deal with certain cases in a certain way. In many legal systems, this comes dangerously close to ex parte communication.

The first case involves the Aquino family plantation Hacienda Luisita. According to Newsbreak, Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona met with President Aquino’s uncle, Jose “Peping” Cojuangco. It’s not clear what actually happened or if the meeting even took place, but it seems clear that the case will be worth watching.

The second case is a retrial of the alleged Maguindanao massacre perpetrators. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima warned that if the Regional Trial Court did not move to resume the case (after the defendants filed an array of procedural motions), than she would file a motion to resume the case. She said her motion would serve as a “friendly reminder” to the judge…

It seems, if anything, that the bitter acrimony during the campaign is probably going to be forgotten (or at least shelved). The administration depends too much upon the judiciary for too many important cases to attempt anything like an impeachment of the justices (something Aquino had vowed to pursue). However, if the Supreme Court rules against him in an important case, perhaps we’ll see a return of that heated rhetoric.

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