Constitutional Law & Civil Rights

SC issues Show Cause Order vs Same-Sex Marriage Petitioners

Date: 07 August 2018; Type: Legal News; Source: Philippine News Agency

MANILA, Aug 7 (PNA) - Lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III is facing another setback as the Supreme Court (SC) issued a show cause order against him and his colleagues for their failure to file a memorandum, in connection with their petition pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country.

In a press briefing Tuesday, SC Spokesperson Theodore Te said the High Court ordered Falcis and his three co-counsels - Darwin Angeles, Keisha Trina Guangko and Christopher Ryan Maranan of Molo Sia Dy Tuazon Ty and Coloma Law Offices (MOSVELDTT) - to explain within 10 days from notice why they should not be cited for indirect contempt for failing to meet the July 26 deadline for the submission of their memorandum.

A memorandum is a court filing that summarizes a litigant's arguments and expounds on issues raised during oral arguments. Upon the submission of this document, a case is deemed wrapped up and set for resolution.

Instead of complying immediately, the petitioners had supposedly asked for more time to revise and finalize "due to incessant monsoon rains causing multiple suspensions of work; the scope, breadth and complexity of the issues involved...as well as other urgent professional work."

The High Court, however, junked the petitioners’ motion for extension to file memorandum for lack of merit, Te said.

“The Court noted that the grant of additional time to file any pleading is a matter addressed to this Court’s sound discretion and that lawyers should never presume that their motions for extension of time will be granted as a matter of course, or for the length of time sought,” Te announced.

“Petitioners and counsel were directed to show cause because disobedience of a lawful order of the court may be punished as indirect contempt,” he added.

Court records showed that following the adjournment of the oral arguments on the case on June 26, the petitioners were directed to submit their respective memorandum within 30 days or until July 26.

The Civil Registrar General, the respondent in the case, which was represented by the Office of the Solicitor General and intervenors-oppositors, both filed their respective memorandum within the required period.

However, instead of filing their memorandum, petitioners and petitioners-in-intervention filed on July 26, 2018 a motion for extension to file their memorandum.

The SC, however, did not give weight to the reasons cited by the petitioners, considering that all the parties were able to fully comply with the deadline, which showed that even considering the complexity of the issues to be resolved, submitting the memoranda within the deadline was still possible.

“Finally, the Court had already warned petitioner Falcis to be circumspect of the duties attendant to his being a lawyer, and that any further contemptuous acts shall be dealt with more severely,” the SC said.

In response, Falcis said it was Angeles who handled the review and filing of the memorandum as he was out of the country on July 26 to coach a debate team.

"My co-counsels from MOSVELDTT Law have filed the memorandum promptly and timely as far as I know," Falcis said in a statement.

"We will explain to the Supreme Court whatever question or concern they may have when we receive a copy of the show cause order"

The High Court previously admonished Falcis for supposed improper decorum, inappropriate attire, and unpreparedness at a formal court proceeding connected to his case.

The admonition came with a warning that "any further contemptuous acts shall be dealt with more severely."

It can be recalled that the SC earlier admonished Falcis for wearing casual clothes during the preliminary conference on the matter last June 19.

The SC en banc found Falcis guilty of direct contempt and meted the sanction of admonition for wearing jacket, cropped jeans and loafers without socks.

Falcis III, who admitted to being gay, filed the controversial petition for certiorari and prohibition and he was joined in the petition by male couple Crescencio Agbayani and Marlon Felipe and a certain Sugar Ibanez and her partner.

Falcis is asking the Court to nullify portions of Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code, which defines and limits marriage as between man and woman”; and to “nullify portions of Articles 4.6 (4) and 55 (6) which mentions lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation of the Family Code as a consequence of the unconstitutionality of Articles 1 and 2.”

But Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the SC to dismiss the petition filed in May 2015 challenging the validity of provisions of the Family Code limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

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