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Anti-Duterte senatorial wannabes and their political baggage

Tomorrow, 18 March 2021, a group of has-been and retirement-age government officials called “1Sambayan” is expected to proclaim itself as the opposition ticket in the 2022 national elections.

This ambitious group says it will unite all anti-government political parties and oppose the presidential and vice-presidential candidates whom President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will endorse in the coming polls.

Four senior ex-government officials are prominently mentioned by the group — retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, ex-Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and ex-Education Secretary Armin Luistro.

Carpio and Del Rosario are known critics of President Duterte’s foreign policy, while Carpio-Morales and Luistro were top officials during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, and are also critics of President Duterte.

In any political campaign, it is always difficult to endorse the candidacy of one who has “political baggage” to carry.

The term “political baggage” includes anything that may tend to compromise one’s actions.

Perhaps 1Sambayan does not realize it yet, but the four senior ex-government officials it plans to field as its senatorial candidates in 2022 all have “political baggage” to carry.

Since they are all former government officials and they seem intent on running in the 2022 elections, they are all fair game for press criticism.

As a Justice of the Supreme Court, Carpio ought to know that foreign policy is the exclusive domain of the Executive Department and that the president is the architect of Philippine foreign policy.

He is also expected to know that the principle of separation of powers mandated by the Constitution prohibits a Justice of the Supreme Court from meddling in the concerns of the Executive department.

Suffice it to say that Carpio disregarded all that when, during his last years in the Supreme Court, he delivered numerous public lectures on the maritime dispute between Manila and Beijing involving the West Philippine Sea.

Whether or not Carpio was on official leave during those occasions, the Supreme Court refuses to disclose.

When Carpio retired from the Supreme Court as its senior associate justice, his colleagues ruled that Carpio should be entitled to the retirement benefits of a chief justice, which meant a bigger pecuniary retirement package for Carpio.

That ruling of the Supreme Court was a clear instance of judicial legislation because the Court does not have the power to amend the law governing retirement benefits. Delicadeza dictates that Carpio should turn down the upgrade given to him by his colleagues. So far, there is no public record available that indicates if Carpio refused the unconstitutional and illegal upgrade.

Carpio’s heaviest “political baggage” is his connection with the big law office he founded, and which carried his name before he joined the government service.

During Carpio’s years as a private lawyer, his law office already had top local and foreign corporations, as well as powerful personalities, in its list of clients.

When Carpio was the legal counsel of President Fidel Ramos, Carpio’s law office became even more prominent.

Carpio’s law office reached the pinnacle of its prominence and influence during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In October 2001, President Arroyo, whose term lasted from 2001 to 2010, appointed Carpio to the Supreme Court. Carpio retired from the judiciary in 2019. That means Carpio was in the Supreme Court for almost the entirety of the Arroyo administration.

At that time, almost everyone in political and legal circles referred to Carpio’s law office as “the firm.” Back then, its name was enough to intimidate many judges, justices, prosecutors, administrative officials, litigants, and lawyers from law firms of lesser repute.

If Carpio does become a senator, will he not be compromised whenever the Senate tackles proposed legislation that may adversely affect any of the corporate clients of his former law office? Will he respect the separation of powers, and will he observe delicadeza?

Carpio-Morales, Del Rosario and Luistro will be the subject of discussion in the next commentary.

Credit belongs to : tribune.net.ph


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