SC stands firm, junks petition to compel release of Duterte medical bulletins
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Christopher Go, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, and House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Gomez Romualdez during a meeting at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 16, 2020.
Presidential photo/King Rodriguez
SC stands firm, junks petition to compel release of Duterte medical bulletins
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 18, 2020 - 3:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court upheld its earlier ruling that junked a lawyers’ petition to compel the government to release medical bulletins of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The SC in a resolution made public Friday denied lawyer Dino De Leon’s Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Set Case for Oral Arguments. It held issues raised in the appeal were already passed upon in the court’s earlier resolution.

“The Resolution dated May 8, 2020 dismissing the Extremely Urgent Petition for Mandamus is deemed final. No further pleadings or motions shall be entertained in this case,” it said.

“Let an entry of Judgment be made in due course,” it added.

The SC on May 8, voted 13-2 to dismiss, without seeking Comment from the Office of the President, De Leon’s petition due to lack of merit. In a resolution later released by the court, it said “the petition failed to set forth his material allegations to establish the prima facie case (based on first impression) for mandamus.”

Appeal

In his motion for reconsideration filed late July, De Leon, citing the importance of the issue his petition raised, urged the SC to set his petition for oral arguments.

“It is crucial for the Filipino People to know whether or not they have a Chief Executive who possess unimpeded judgment, free from any form of condition or substances that may affect his ability to make sound decisions,” he said.

In resolving his appeal, the SC again noted that De Leon failed to make a prima facie case for his petition and failed to prove that a legal right was violated by Duterte and his office. 

It added that the petition failed to show that compelling the president to disclose his state of health or subject himself to confirmatory medical and psychological tests “constitute ministerial duties” of the government.

“There is no reason for the Court to belabor the point considering that the instant motion presents no substantial argument to support a case for mandamus, much less to warrant the reversal of the Resolution dated May 8, 2020,” the SC also said.

SC’s independence

While 13 justices, in May, voted to dismiss De Leon’s petitions, it drew strongy-worded dissenting opinions from Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

READ: SC: Constitutional Commission notes say release of president's health condition up to his office

Leonen said that while dismissing a petition outright is discretion of the court, to resolve the petition without a comment from the government—respondent in the case—“sacrifices the impartiality of this Court.”

“The Court owes it to the people to remain steadfast in its role in of protecting fundamental freedoms without any bias, prejudice or partiality towards any of the parties. We must never take the position of an active combatant and must refrain from arguing for any party involved. It is the parties themselves who must fight for their respective positions and lay down their own defenses,” he added.

Caguioa, in his 31-page dissenting opinion, agreed with Leonen that the SC’s decision to not require a comment from the executive branch “unnecessarily and unfortunately impacts on the public’s perception of the Court’s impartiality.”

DINO DE LEON RODRIGO DUTERTE SUPREME COURT
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