Supreme Court junks petition to legalize same-sex marriage

THE SUPREME Court (SC) junked a lawyer’s petition seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the country. In a statement, the court said that while it acknowledges that the 1987 Constitution “does not define, or restrict, marriage on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression,” petitioner lawyer Jesus Nicardo M. Falcis III lacked legal standing, violated the principle of hierarchy of courts and failed to raise an actual controversy. Mr. Falcis filed in 2015 the petition seeking to declare unconstitutional provisions in the Family Code which limits marriage to male and female. The SC held oral arguments on the petition in June 2018. The decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen also says it recognizes the discrimination faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and other genders, but “official recognition of their partnership may, for now, be a matter that should be addressed to Congress.” The court also cited Mr. Falcis and his co-counsels — Darwin P. Angeles, Keisha Trina M. Guanko, Christopher Ryan M. Maranan — for indirect contempt, saying “[t]o forget [the bare rudiments of court procedure and decorum]-or worse, to purport them, but really only to exploit them by way of propaganda-and then, to jump headlong into the taxing endeavour of constitutional litigation is a contemptuous betrayal of the high standards of the legal profession.” It added, “Good intentions are no substitute for deliberate, conscious and responsible action. Litigation for the public interest for those who have been marginalized and oppressed deserve much more than the way it has been handled in this case.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Supreme Court affirms dismissal of Mamasapano case vs Aquino, others

THE SUPREME Court affirmed the Office of the Ombudsman’s 2017 resolution dismissing the multiple homicide complaints against former President Benigno S.C. Aquino III and two others. The case was in connection with the Mamasapano clash in 2015 where 44 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) were killed. “The Court held that the Ombudsman did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing the complaints for 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide filed against private respondents,” SC Public Information Chief Brian Keith F. Hosaka said in a briefing. The other two included in the complaints are former Philippine National Police chief Alan L.M. Purisima and the former PNP-Special Action Force director Getulio P. Napeñas, Jr. The Sandiganbayan late last month granted the motion of Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires to withdraw the charges after the lifting of a temporary restraining order by the SC. Mr. Martires previously said they moved for the withdrawal of the cases as Mr. Aquino cannot be charged of usurpation of authority and graft as he was the chief executive when the clash happened. Aside from the 44 SAF officers, 18 others from the Moro Isalamic Liberation Front and its splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters were killed in the encounter. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

2 complainants withdraw estafa complaint versus KAPA

TWO PRIVATE complainants in the estafa complaint against Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc. (KAPA) have withdrawn their case. The Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Lourdes C. Uy said the two filed their affidavit of resistance on the complaint on the ground that they donated their money to KAPA. The panel of prosecutors said they have just accepted the affidavit and have yet to decide on it. The third private complainant, meanwhile, has also prepared her withdrawal but was not able to attend due to illness. The panel said the complainant could have her affidavit sworn before a public prosecutor. “(W)e need to be sure na (that) this affidavit of desistance are voluntarily executed,” the Assistant State Prosecutor Xerxes U. Garcia told reporters. Aside from the syndicated estafa complaint, the three KAPA investors and the National Bureau of Investigation last July 8 also recommended the charging of 14 KAPA officials, including founder Joel A. Apolinario, of violating Section 8 (Requirement of Registration of Securities) and Section 26 (Fraudulent Transactions) the Securities Regulation Code. The three private complainants said they “donated” a total of P575,000 to KAPA, which they tried but failed to recover following reports of the group’s alleged illegal operations. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

DILG says Sept. 29 deadline for road, sidewalk clearing stands

THE DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government (DILG) “will not be extending” the 60-day deadline for local government units (LGUs) to clear their roads and sidewalks from obstructions, Secretary Eduardo M. Año said on Tuesday. In a press conference in Quezon City, Mr. Año said cities in Metro Manila are the “most compliant” with the directive of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. The DILG issued an order in line with the directive, which marked the start of clearing operations on July 29 and a deadline of Sept. 29. Local chief executives who fail to implement the order may face administrative charges. Mr. Año also said 43.3% of LGUs nationwide have reported conducting road-clearing operations. In Metro Manila, he said a total of 139,959 meters of roads and 52, 831 meters of sidewalk have been reportedly cleared of obstructions and illegal structures. “Our operations further resulted in 1,444 illegal vendors, 49 terminals, 1,292 illegally parked vehicles, and 813 obstructions displaced from roads,” he added. To sustain the cleared roads, the directive requires LGUs to enact or revisit related ordinances. — Arjay L. Balinbin