TRACK THE VOTE | SC justices appointed by GMA, Rody consistently key to Duterte-backed issues

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Reuters file photos of President Rodrigo Duterte and former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court justices appointed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and President Rodrigo Duterte consistently voted in favor of four major political issues — Arroyo’s acquittal in her plunder case, the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao, the Marcos burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani, and Sen. Leila de Lima’s arrest and detention — that were either backed or pushed by the current chief executive and his administration, data of the magistrates’ voting records culled by InterAksyon show.

On the other hand, among the six magistrates appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III, three consistently voted against the same four issues supported by Duterte. They are Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, and Marvic Leonen.

The positions of the three Aquino-appointed justices on the said issues were always similar with the stand of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio – the only Arroyo appointee whose positions on the four issues were against the stand of the rest of the appointees of the former top leader.

Duterte wanted Arroyo freed, and his and GMA’s appointed justices junked the plunder case vs the former president

In April 2017, eight of the 11 justices who affirmed the high court’s July 2016 dismissal of the plunder case against Arroyo, which paved the way for her release from hospital detention, were all appointees of the former chief executive and Duterte.

They are:

1. Samuel Martires (Duterte appointee)
2. Noel Tijam (Duterte appointee)
3. Presbitero Velasco Jr. (Arroyo appointee)
4. Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (Arroyo appointee)
5. Diosdado Peralta (Arroyo appointee)
6. Lucas Bersamin (Arroyo appointee)
7. Mariano Del Castillo (Arroyo appointee)
8. Jose Mendoza (Arroyo appointee)

In February 2016, while he was in Pampanga campaigning for president, Duterte already made his position on Arroyo’s detention and plunder case known to the public and to the former President’s province-mates: “If I am elected President, I will release her. Why? Because the evidence [against her] is weak. I know that. I am a lawyer.”

Duterte wanted martial law in whole of Mindanao, his and GMA’s appointed justices nod to South PH-wide ML

The voting positions of the same eight Arroyo and Duterte appointees were repeated in July 2017 when they all upheld the President’s May 23 martial law declaration in the whole of Mindanao amid the war between government troops and Islamist extremists led by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. [SEE SPREADSHEET BELOW TO COMPARE VOTES AND VOTING PATTERNS]

Duterte allowed hero’s burial for Marcos, his and GMA’s appointed justices junk appeal to exhume FM body from Libingan

In August 2017, when the high court ruled with finality on the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos, the same eight Arroyo and Duterte-appointed justices all thumbed down the appeal to have the late strongman’s remains exhumed from the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Taguig City, affirming the tribunal’s Nov. 8, 2016 ruling that Duterte did not violate any law but merely exercised his constitutional mandate when he allowed a hero’s burial for Marcos.

Two more justices, then newly appointed by Duterte — Alexander Gesmundo and Andres Reyes — joined the eight justices in voting for Marcos to remain buried at Libingan.

Duterte warned De Lima would go to jail, his and GMA’s appointed justices decide vs senator’s plea to recall arrest, dismiss raps

This month, the same Arroyo and Duterte-appointed justices — minus Mendoza, who has already retired — decided against De Lima’s pleas to recall the Feb. 23, 2017 arrest warrant that the Muntinlupa regional trial court issued against her and dismiss the illegal drugs charges filed against the senator by the Department of Justice.

In October 2016, four months before De Lima’s arrest and detention, Duterte, amid the DOJ’s investigation on accusations that the lawmaker had collected money from drug lords to finance her 2016 senatorial bid, said the senator “is in danger of going to jail.”

“And remember, the moment the indictments are filed in court, there is no bail. And she (De Lima) could (experience) what Gloria Arroyo suffered,” the President added, referring to Arroyo’s hospital detention without bail during the Aquino administration after she was charged with corruption and poll cheating.

3 Aquino-appointed justices oppose 4 Duterte-backed issues; other appointees voted differently

Consistently voting against the issues backed by Duterte are Aquino-appointed justices Sereno, Caguioa, and Leonen.

With them is Arroyo-appointed Carpio, who voted with the three magistrates in thumbing down Arroyo’s plunder acquittal, the Mindanao-wide imposition of martial law, and a hero’s burial for Marcos and voting in favor of the recall of the arrest warrant and dismissal of drug charges against De Lima.

Meanwhile, three other justices appointed by Aquino voted differently on the four issues backed by Duterte.

Bienvenido Reyes voted in favor of Arroyo’s plunder acquittal and the imposition of martial in the entire Mindanao before he retired.

Estela Perlas-Bernabe also favored Arroyo’s acquittal, martial law declaration in the South, and hero’s burial for Marcos but was against De Lima’s arrest and the charges filed against the lawmaker.

Francis Jardeleza, meanwhile, voted for Arroyo’s acquittal and Mindanao martial law but opposed hero’s burial for Marcos and backed De Lima’s plea to recall her arrest and set aside the drug-related charges that were filed against the senator. — with reports from C.A. Aguinaldo