The Philippine Supreme Court: Activism and Restraint

Outline of the lecture of retired Chief Justice
Artemio V. Panganiban at the Columbia University
in New York City on April 29, 2008

April 29, 2008

  1. Introduction – – President Dwight Eisenhower and the liberal duo (Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice William Brennan)
  2. The major sources of Philippine law
    1. A short historical background
    2. Constitutional, political, commercial and remedial law
    3. Civil and criminal law
    4. How about Canada?
  3. The Philippine judiciary
    1. The Philippine governmental structure; separation of powers
    2. Scope of judicial power; Sec. 1, Art. VIII, Phil. Constitution:
      • “Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government.”
    3. Definition of grave abuse of discretion
      • “Capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment xxx by reason of passion or personal hostility (in a manner) so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act all in contemplation of law.” b) Any action done “contrary to the Constitution, the law or jurisprudence.”
    4. Comparison of judicial power in the US and the Philippines
    5. Theory of political question
    6. Conditions, limitations or restrictions of political power
    7. Jurisdiction over political questions
  4. Measures to guarantee judicial independence
    1. Fiscal autonomy
    2. Security of tenure and compensation
    3. Protection from removal from office of justices and judges
    4. Non-diminution of powers and jurisdiction
    5. Administrative supervision over lower courts
    6. Continuing judicial education
    7. Freedom from congressional confirmation
    8. Control of admission to the bar
    9. Rule-making power
    10. Protection and enforcement of constitutional rights
  5. ACID problems of the judiciary
    1. Access to justice by the poor
    2. Corruption
    3. Incompetence
    4. Delay in the delivery of quality judgments

Vision – – A judiciary characterized by four Ins: Independence, Integrity, Industry and Intelligence; one that safeguards the liberty and nurtures the prosperity of our people

Conclusion – – The might of the judiciary.

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