Sunday, February 10, 2013

Curious DoJ warning

There is a curious statement from the Department of Justice on the local government resistance to open-pit mining.  Secretary Leila de Lima recently warned officials local officials that they could face administrative charges for their refusal to allow large-scale mining operations that use open-pit mining techniques.  

De Lima said: 

“Whenever we issue one [opinion] on any legal issue or concern referred to us, we deem our views expressed therein as having strong persuasive effect especially among government functionaries and, as such, we are entitled to respect."

The Secretary’s statement is incomplete and misleading.

The principle she is citing is not directed at all government functionaries, but rather at courts to guide them when they engage in the interpretation of laws. 

The Supreme Court has held that statutory interpretations of executive bodies (like the Department of Justice) “do not hold decisive sway upon the judiciary but are merely persuasive.” (The City of Davao v. The Regional Trial Court, Branch XII, G.R. No. 127383, August 18, 2005).  The opinion of the Secretary of Justice does not have a controlling effect upon the Supreme Court (Paa v. Chan, G.R. No. L-25945, October 31, 1967).

The Secretary’s Opinions are opinions and not necessarily correct. 

See "Grasping at straws" for more on the campaing against local officials.

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