New SC Justice won’t inhibit self from Neri’s petition

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Associate Justice Arturo Brion yesterday disappointed the critics of the administration who wanted him not to take part in the deliberation on Romulo Neri’s bid to stop the Senate inquiry into his conversations with President Arroyo on the national broadband network contract.

Brion, who took over the lone vacancy at the Supreme Court following the retirement of Associate Justice Angelina Gutierrez, said he won’t inhibit himself from deliberations on the Neri case.

“One of the duties the Constitution mandated was for me to take part in the high court’s deliberations. After I take my oath, my critics want me to inhibit? I don’t think that’s possible,” Brion said. “I don’t know about them but I took an oath Monday. Part of that oath is to do my duties as mandated by the Constitution.”

To prove his point, the former labor secretary has participated in yesterday’s en banc deliberations of the Supreme Court, including the Neri case.

“I will participate in all the activities of the Court. What is so special about the Neri case? I would guess that I would be at the SC for the next nine years and there will be a lot of hot issues that the Court will deliberate upon. So why not start early?”

Brion appealed to his critics to reserve judgment on him until he starts discharging his duties as a member of the Judiciary.

“They had been trying to question my independence. I suppose they could not find basis for that, so what will they say next? Maybe they will needle me for being fat and not exercising.”

Brion assured the public that he will approach cases with cold objectivity, adding that cases are decided not with emotion but with evidence.

While he will welcome accusations about his character and his performance, but only if these are based on evidence. “For now we don’t have anything to judge me by except my record. If you see something irregular, go ahead and question me. Until then, please judge me by what I will do,” he quipped.

Brion also debunked speculation that his appointment to the Supreme Court was due to Associate Justice Renato Corona, who is perceived to be close to President Arroyo.