An Expanded Writ of Amparo

Chief Justice Reynato Puno - Supreme Court picture -

If there is one blessing in disguise that the current political turmoil has brought to the country, it would be a Supreme Court that has been able to assert itself and make its presence more known (despite some imperfections and flaws) as a true co-equal branch of government, preventing any abuse particularly from the executive branch.

Its decisions on Executive Order 464, the State of National Emergency, People’s Initiative, among others have given guidance to a country in dire need of it.  Another lauded development was the creation of the Writ of Amparo, a judicial remedy to help victims of extrajudicial killings, which notoriously propelled to great heights under the Arroyo administration.

Now, Chief Justice Reynato Puno has announced the possible expansion of the Writ to cover economic, social, and cultural rights, and providing protection against demolitions against the poor. This surely is a welcome development for our poor countrymen if implemented well.  Puno hits the spot when he says that an expanded writ would bring the judiciary closer to the poor, who are most often the victims of injustice and are most marginalized.

The expanded writ is certainly a development and something to watch out for.  Nevertheless, I hope that Puno and the other proponents would consult all the stakeholders who would be affected by this writ.  The writ reminds me of the Urban Development and Housing Act (Republic Act 7279) or the Lina Law, which was authored by then Senator Joey Lina to help the poor.  Although the intention of the law was noble, many would believe (including yours truly) that that law had only encouraged and legitimized squatting and trespassing.  It has been a hindrance to faster urban development, and encouraged the congestion of Metro Manila with migrants from other provinces.  Passing a writ could worsen this situation, and could now marginalize the rights of legitimate landowners, who, all things considered, are entitled to their rights as well.

Definitely, the all branches of government should give proper consideration to those who suffer from poverty.  But it should not come at the expense of other sectors’ rights, or at the expense of the entire country’s progress.  After all, a country that fails to continue economically growing would hit the poor — the worst.

Still, good initiative from the judiciary.  I have no malice intended, but this is the kind of initiative that gains “pogi points” for 2010 — provided that he does not share the same ticket with Bayani Fernando!  Well, Puno is far from mandatory retirement.  But of course, he can always imitate late Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan, who resigned as Chief Justice in 1991 to run for Vice President in 1992.

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