Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bzzzzz: Citizens interpret Constitution: Alvarez

HOW THEY UNDERSTAND IT. To House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, it’s how ordinary people interpret the Constitution. “Kung ano yong pagkaiintindi ng ordinaryong mamamayan” (how the ordinary citizen understands it) is how the Constitution must be interpreted.

Yes, as much as possible, ordinary meaning is given to the words. But it’s the Supreme Court that interprets the Constitution or any other law in accordance with the basics of statutory construction and accepted principles in Philippine jurisprudence and the work of jurists in other countries that have similar structures to ours. Litigants who bring their case to the SC argue by citing facts and logic and how the law applies.

If it were otherwise, the SC would just hire pollsters to sound out what citizens think about, say, the manner of amending the Constitution.

And the SC interprets “not by the letter that kills but by the spirit that gives it life.”

Alvarez wants a literal interpretation of the provision requiring vote by “all the members of Congress” as a vote of congressmen and congressmen and senators counted as one body.

‘Not a poem’

BASES FOR INTERPRETING. Alvarez is right when he says the Constitution is not interpreted like a poem. No, a Constitution is not a poem although some passages there, especially those on civil liberties, soar like lines from a poem.

Statutory Construction, a basic subject in law school, teaches would-be lawyers how a law is interpreted. The SC uses those rules plus other precepts that the work of the high tribunal has accumulated through the years and what other jurists in other democracies of the world have used.

‘Found your pagan’

IS IT MIKE RAMA? Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s Facebook runs a photo of a man in a Sto. Nino-looking costume complete with a crown, riding on a horse-driven carriage (with the driver also in costume).

No caption to identify the man and the occasion or which Sinulog fete it was taken. But the man looks like former mayor Mike Rama taking part in a Sinulog parade.


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