Thursday, August 22, 2019

Sanchez: Wonderland Philippine politics

OUR national politics are scenes straight out of Alice in Wonderland. In Lewis Carroll’s narrative, Alice fell through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre.

We might be amused by the antics of Carroll’s characters such as the manic, timid, and occasionally aggressive White Rabbit and the severe and domineering Queen of Hearts who incessantly screams for her subjects to be beheaded.

So now we hear the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte who told Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno that “I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court,’ the modern version of “Off with her head.”

The Queen, er, the President added: “I will see to it and after that, I will request the Congress go into the impeachment right away.” The President said he would tell Speaker Pantaleon Álvarez to speed up the impeachment process against Sereno.

Now, this is a nonsense story in real life. Says the President, “Now this time, I’m asking the congressmen and the Speaker, ‘Do it now. ‘Wag ninyong dramahin. Or else, I will do it for you.”

Spoken like the Queen of Hearts.

Now the White Mouse, another character in the Wonderland and who migrate to the Philippine Congress replied, “It will be done once we resume sessions,” said House Speaker Pantaleon Álvarez.

This is a nonsense story. It does not fit the Republican tenets of our political system. Yet the leaders of our national government went totally off-script by throwing out the window the separation of powers and due process and the assumption of innocence.

I learned in high school is the principle of separation of powers where legislation belongs to Congress, execution to the Executive, and to the Judiciary the settlement of legal controversies.

The Legislative branch is authorized to make laws, alter, and repeal them through the power vested in the Philippine Congress. This institution is divided into the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Executive branch carries out laws. It is composed of the President and the Vice President who are elected by direct popular vote and serve a term of six years. The Constitution grants the President authority to appoint his Cabinet but does not choose congressmen or force them to remove justices of the Supreme Court.

The Judicial branch evaluates laws. It holds the power to settle controversies involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable.

This branch determines whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part and instrumentality of the government. It is made up of a Supreme Court and lower courts.

The Mad Hatter was right. “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.” He found his world, and it’s in the Philippines.

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