THE Supreme Court (SC) has made a decision to give President Gloria Arroyo the authority to appoint the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This is under circumstances that violate Art. VII Sec 15 of the Constitution.
No-one disputes that the SC’s ruling is contrary to the Constitution.
Third District Representative Jose Carlos “Kako” Lacson asks us to give a little prudence to the SC.
He said that if we won’t respect and trust the SC, what will happen to us? Wrong question, Kako. The question in a purportedly democratic country should be: ‘If we don’t respect and trust the Supreme Court, what will happen to the Supreme Court?’
There is a difference between disagreeing with a decision made by the SC and the SC making a blunder.
The only blunder the SC can make is to make a decision which is clearly unconstitutional. The SC is bound, or at least should be bound, by the constitution. There is all the difference between disagreeing with a decision made by the SC and the SC making a blunder.
Let us take neutral, American, examples.
The US Supreme Court recently made a decision to relax the laws relating to the sources and amounts of campaign contributions for Presidential elections. Many disagreed with that decision because they believe that an unwanted consequence would be greater and pernicious lobbying from those corporations who funded a successful election campaign. Although many disagreed with that US Supreme Court decision, nobody said that the Court was not empowered to make the decision.
If, on the other hand, the US SC made a decision that the President could serve three terms (the US Constitution specifies a maximum of two terms) then it no longer becomes a question of disagreeing with the Supreme Court but that the SC is manifestly acting beyond its range of authority (ultra vires).
In a real democracy, there are always limits to power, irksome though that may be to those have power.
These limits provide the checks and balances, which enable a democratic country enjoys governance without extremism and where excessively self-serving decisions are resisted.
No one is coercing the Supreme Court. But in a democracy there are always limits to power. The Supreme Court went over the line.
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One of the consequences of the unpopular Marcos regime was the fragmentation of the two parties pre-Marcosian Nacionalistas and Liberals into all kinds of temporary and fluctuating alliances.
One of the consequences of the unpopular Arroyo regime is the possible re-formation of the two party Nacionalista/Liberal system.
The unkind ones said that to be associated with, what was at one time explicitly Arroyo’s party, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, was to court electoral disaster.
Politicians are nothing if not pragmatic so Gibo seems to be plowing an increasingly lonely furrow. A pity. Perhaps he could have been a significant addition to the intellectual might of the Senate. Explicitly eschewing this route was regrettable. We wonder if UP has any vacancy in its Law Department.
The election is now six weeks away. Opinion polls suggest that there are two contenders for the Presidency- Aquino and Villar. Mar Roxas is currently front runner for the Vice-Presidency.
The Liberals are positioning themselves as the party that represents change. Their explicit sub-text is that their objective is to have less corruption in our governance. The problem is that there is a lack of clarity as to how this will be brought about. Even if the President rejects corrupt overtures, will he be able to dismantle corruption in all government sectors? Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono has made improvements since his 2004 election (and recent re-election) but he has a long way to go. Would we be satisfied with a government that avoided the equivalent of the NBN-ZTE debacle and the insulting fertilizer scam, even though there were still enormous problems with infrastructural projects?
The Nacionalista Party leads us to infer that this is a party of pragmatic, rather than idealistic, decision making. It says: ‘Vote for us and we will lead the Philippines to a better economic future.’
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We face an imminent financial crisis. Our National Debt rose P293 billion in 2009 and by another P70 billion in the first two months of this year. There must be more efficient tax collection, otherwise we cannot make the investment in infrastructure that is necessary for sustained growth.
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Hopefully, the next six weeks will see an increased articulateness from all candidates. So far, there has been no real debate.
The electorate deserves better.