Editorial, Bohol Chronicle
The death of democracy begins the day Government does not function.
That is when the Executive does not govern, the legislators do not make laws and judges do not act on cases. Democracy thrives when all three do their sworn duties.
The class suit for the nullification of the City Square contract between the City Government and the TBCRDC and the issuance of a TRO over what is "disadvantageous to government" was dropped by four RTC judges like a "hot potato".
But one must note that a recent clear precedent of a "sweetheart deal" and "grossly disadvantageous to the government" case later voided by the Supreme Court (even after the terminal was partially standing) was the multi-billion contract for the NAIA Terminal and the ill-fated PIATCO.Government infrastructure, is therefore, not exempt.
Thus what one judge, RTC Branch I Teofilo Baluma ,did in accepting the case was to perform his sworn duty" to dispose this case within the level of the law and available trends or jurisprudence, not influenced by peripheral issues for judges are placed in their posts and privileged to wear the robe to apply the law even if the heavens fall."
The City Mayor, top honcho of City Hall, though withdrawing the plea for inhibition of Baluma berated the Presiding Judge in a letter and through the radio airwaves that his order was full of "conjectures, bias and baseless allegations."
The City Mayor earlier had an entaglement with Judge Baluma in 2006 as a Family Court judge where the "top honcho" seeking aide of the IBP then wanted the Supreme Court to remove Baluma. The Supreme Court stood behind Baluma and labeled his depositions to be above board.
That Judge Baluma since 2006 had not claimed his City Hall honoraria is but proper (as Judge Ingles of Cebu did) in order to preserve the independence of the judicary which was obviously being pressured by a co-equal branch: The Executive represented by the City Mayor.
That Judge Baluma over the radio declared he will not inhibit himself if the City Square was assigned to him was a mere declaration of a judge stating to stand by his prime duty-to try cases. What is awfully wrong with that?
But the vehemence of the language and the threats that the mayor hurled unstatesmanly at the venerable judge is prototype of the kind of City Mayor the city has.It is the same sick pattern he applies when castigating the Chronicle and Station DYRD when we do not agree with his confused and confusing policies and pronouncements.
Now he is clearly stamping his Big Foot , unwanted as it is, in the Halls of Justice -hinting that indeed he will not brook any opposition. That is why the public is watching eagerly whether the Presiding Judge Branch I will wilt under the "a'la Nazi blitzkreig" offensive of the beleaguered City Mayor who is now facing one controversy after another.
There are two kinds of inhibition under the Law: compulsory and voluntary Judge Baluma feels that he is not ruled by either in accepting the case. The whole public therefore is watching that Judge Teofilo Baluma in exercising his discretion - will not erode people's faith in the courts of justice.
In legal matters, the judge rules. Media is the Fourth Estate. Neither should bend to the importunings of an overbearing Executive. He is no emperor of the Judiciary or the Media.