Mind da News: Sereno’s Warped Logic

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, March 11, 2016 – Who taught Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno “Logic” and “Argumentation and Debate”? She has warped logic in her response to the criticisms by critics and legal experts that the Supreme Court ruling to allow Sen. Grace Poe to run for president is unconstitutional (The Daily Tribune, March 11, 2016: Sereno: Judge after reading opinions).

Last Tuesday, March 8, the Court announced it had voted 9-6 to allow Poe to run for president without releasing its “Decision” — together with the concurring and dissenting opinions — reversing the decision of the Commission on Elections canceling Poe’s certificate of candidacy.

As quoted in the national media on line, the court spokesman Theodore Te said:

“I am authorized to say that there will be four concurring opinions to the Majority Decision, and five dissenting opinions. Please note that since the Court has only authorized the release of the vote, it may not be safe to report which ground the Court ruled upon and used as basis for the vote, i.e., between citizenship and residence. Thus, it may be best to simply say, ‘the SC grants Senator Poe’s petitions, 9-6,’ allowing her to run for the presidency.”

He said a final copy of the majority opinion will be forthcoming in the next few days. In The Daily Tribune cited above, “Sereno appealed for patience in the release of the main decision and the accompanying concurring and dissenting opinions on the Poe cases”.

Should Sereno fault the critics and legal experts? Without the “Decision” and the concurring and dissenting opinions, they can only judge the 9-6 voting according to their clear reading of the Constitution on citizenship and the facts and circumstances pertaining to Poe’s residency. The President, in the last two days, was reported to be confused and of urging the Court to clarify the issue on Poe’s citizenship.

Yet, in The Daily Tribune report, this was exactly what Sereno did – fault the critics and legal experts.

Referring to the yet-to-be released “decision and opinions”, the Tribune report quoted her as telling reporters: “Why don’t you read them and decide for yourselves. I don’t want to say that we are very clear, or what, because that is a matter that is best left to the reader. And you are going to be the readers of this soon-to-be released decision and opinions.” She was really addressing the critics, legal experts and the President.

Why did she allow the announcement of the 9-6 without the “Decision” and the opinions of the justices? And now she is faulting the critics and legal experts – also the President for being confused – for not judging the 9-6 vote according the “soon-to-be-released decision and opinions”. If that is not warped logic, Mr. Webster should change the meaning of “warped”.

Incidentally, Sereno is just being consistent. One fundamental rule in argumentation is: “Argue according to the issue.” At issue in the cancellation of Poe’s COC is her status as a natural-born citizen due to her being a foundling.

On this issue, there is no room under the strict constitutional provisions and doctrine for Poe to be a natural-born Filipino citizen unless she can positively prove – e.g., by DNA test – her biological father or mother is a natural-born Filipino citizen.

So, Sereno changed the issue to the grave injustice on thousands of foundlings in the Philippines should Poe not be allowed to run for president. Two or three other justices followed her argument – the same emotional appeal of Poe to the media.

As the saying goes, if you cannot solve a test problem, change the problem. Obviously in sympathy for Poe, Sereno changed the issue in order to win her argument to have Poe qualify to run for president not as a natural-born Filipino citizen but as a foundling representing the thousands of foundlings and their rights.

(Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at [email protected])