The Supreme Court has dismissed for lack of merit the petition of a group of “comfort women” which sought to compel the Philippine government to demand an official apology and other forms of reparations from the Japanese government before the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals.
In a 34-page decision penned by Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo, the Court held that the Executive Department has already decided that it is in the best interest of the country to waive all claims of its nationals for reparations against Japan in the Treaty of Peace of 1951. The wisdom of such decision is not for the courts to question, it added.
The Court held that the Executive Department has determined that taking up petitioners’ cause would be inimical to our country’s foreign policy interests, and could disrupt our relations with Japan, thereby creating serious implications for stability in this region. “For us to overturn the Executive Department’s determination would mean an assessment of the foreign policy judgments by a coordinate political branch to which authority to make that judgment has been constitutionally committed,” it declared.
“We greatly sympathize with the cause of petitioners, and we cannot begin to comprehend the unimaginable horror they underwent at the hands of the Japanese soliders….Regrettably, it is not within our power to order the Executive Department to take up the petitioners’ cause. Ours is only the power to urge and exhort the Executive Department to take up petitioners’ cause,” the Court ruled.
Petitioners are members of Malaya Lolas, a non-stock, non-profit organization group established for the purpose of providing aid to the victims of rape by Japanese military forces in the Philippines during the Second World War.
Named as respondents were then Executive Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, then Foreign Affairs Secretary Delia Domingo Albert, then Justice Secretary now Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez, and then Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo. (GR No. 162230, Vinuya v. Executive Secretary Romulo, April 28, 2010)