A matter of sub judice?

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

To the ordinary citizens, the term sub judice means a case that is before a court for consideration and is not yet judicially determined. Maybe the court is still in the process of receiving evidence or taking reasonable time to evaluate the said evidence in order to arrive at a decision.

In our system, it is a part of due process that our court must be independent and the magistrate cold, neutral and impartial. While parties to a court action can and should be earnest in the espousal of their respective causes during litigation and before the judge, they are duty bound never to do or say anything that tends to influence the court to decide in a particular way beyond what the weight of the evidence dictates.

In that stage of a case being sub judice, it must also thus be understood as a call for restraint upon anyone, parties or aliens to the case, to do any antics that might interfere with the independence of the court.

On this thought, I look at a television advertisement apparently paid by the camp of presidential candidate Grace P. Llamanzares, senator of the republic, with grave concern. First, I apologize to this candidate if I continue to use her husband's family name to refer to her. That is my simplistic view of the law on surnames and I am convinced that she does not really want to dishonor her husband by dropping his surname just because it is election time and the family name Poe is more popular than Llamanzares.

When I first noticed the paid advertisement, I sensed that privileges were rather misused. There is no doubt that an election propaganda material, like that ad, is within the general ambit of free speech. We have constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. It is everyone's right to express his opinion.

It is possible that the camp of the lady senator thought that bringing the legal squabble of the Fernando Poe might sway the justices of the Supreme Court to view her own problems in similar light. Of course, the legal minds will not agree with me on this matter. The case that the late movie actor faced when he ran for president is not, in any way, similar to issues the presidential candidate is confronted with. They are two different things. Even the uninitiated recognizes their dissimilarities.

But, look at this matter this way. I was a fan of Fernando Poe. Whether he portrayed the character of a cowboy fast with his sixer or that an army officer battling hundreds of Japanese soldiers or of a community leader fighting abusive landlords, he was my hero. To me FPJ was infallible and I was mad at anybody who wronged him. There are still millions of adoring fans of FPJ in our midst and that, in fact, is the reason why the senator uses his surname and not that of her husband's.

The political advertisement that is being shown on television bears heavily on the mind of the ordinary citizens, who in all likelihood made FPJ their hero. Its presentation has the capacity to condition the thought of so many people that the cases of FPJ and that of the lady senator contain the same issues on natural-born citizenship. We are made to believe from the way the ad is projected that the problem of the lady senator is no different from that her supposed father. Is it not suggested by the advertisement that we should expect that if the Supreme Court ruled to allow FPJ to run for president, the high tribunal has no other path to follow that allow her to run also for the presidency?

This is the subliminal message of the ad. FPJ, in his movies, would start out as the oppressed. The stack was arrayed against him in the early part of the film but as the movie plot moved on, he would come out to be the hero. This, in the ad, is also similar to the initial obstacles of the lady senator but, as time goes by, she should be declared qualified to run as heroically as FPJ came to be at the end of the movie.

Our mind is conditioned into thinking that the Supreme Court would not rule against Sen. Llamanzares's candidacy. Or the wrath of a wronged citizenry would befall on our justices. Is this not interference on the independence of the judiciary while the case is still sub judice?

[email protected].

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