“When Mercy seasons justice…” (-“Merchant of Venice”, w/apologies to Shakespeare)
Can the Supreme Court review the findings of the investigating panel of the Ombudsman and affirm/ reverse it? The process at the Ombudsman’s level is not yet done because Ombudsman Merceditas has to approve those findings. The Ombudsman usually just signs a reference slip approving the findings, or if it is a disapproval, the Ombudsman can also sign a reference slip and check the box that says “disapproved” in which case he/she again tosses it to another investigating panel. In the case of Aniano Desierto, there had been times when he did not even deign a small paragraph explaining why he was reversing, he would just tick off “disapproved” and assign another investigator. The Supreme Court at its en banc might choose to wait for Mercy to sign the investigation report (and that was why she has kept quiet.). Why has Mercy been too merciful on those who paid off P1.2 billion in public funds on machines that cannot now be used? Since the Supreme Court two years ago had ordered an investigation to find criminal liability, you can be sure that the highest court of the land would have her back if she touched the untouchables, and would back her up if she finds probable cause against the biggest in the Comelec. If the Supreme Court is backing you up, what are you afraid of? What is Mercy afraid of? But maybe it is not fear but ambition. Lawyers in the prosecutorial arm of government are career officials, and apparently, Mercy, having come from that mode, is still more keen on career advancement rather than being merciless on crooks. And those on the career path, whether they are in the Sandiganbayan bench or the Ombudsman’s office, are looking at a career in the highest levels of the judiciary, or, eventually, the Supreme Court. Where else will they go? They’re not inclined to run for office and be like the politicians they should be prosecuting. It is no secret that the Sandiganbayan justices and Ombudsman Ani Desierto had themselves nominated in the JBC to be shortlisted for the Supreme Court. (in the case of Ani, some smart aleck lawyer found out he was disqualified on account of, I think, age or years or service or retirement. ) And it is Gloria who appoints and she’s there till 2010. Who knows, the Supreme Court justices today might find themselves seated next to Mercy in the bench in the not too distant future.