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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Panganiban v. Arroyo? Panganiban et Arroyo?

Come this year, the Supreme Court will examine several cases which were brought on by the defensive stance of the Executive branch of government. Principally, they will deal with the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 464 and the Calibrated Preemptive Response or fondly known as CPR.

With Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban at the helm, what are the odds that the Panganiban Supreme Court will rule in favor of GMA?

The long and short of it? My forecast is E. O. 464 will be struck down as unconstitutional as it goes against the grain of the legislative oversight functions as enunciated in the 1987 Constitution, Article VI (Legislative Department), Section 21. A cursory review of the Whereas Clauses of E. O. 464 betrays a hodge-podge, all-in, shotgun manner of justifying refusal to attend investigations in-aid-of-legislation, not to mention the fact that the Executive Order would have severely curtailed the powers of the legislative branch of government, not by its own restraint, but by unilateral executive fiat. That in and of itself is already an obstruction of justice by the Executive Department over a purely legislative function.

Moreover, the wholesale prohibition of officials and employees belonging to the Executive Department to appear before any legislative inquiry reveals the absence of a compelling and even-handed standard and betrays the arbitrariness of the president to exclude anyone that passes her fancy. In addition, the High Court will strike down the theory that invoking national security justifies non-appearance before senators or congressmen. Rather, it merely requires the solons to meet in executive session free from the prying eyes of media. Of course, the Brethren may suggest to senators to observe and extend parliamentary courtesy to resource persons especially members who belong to the Arroyo government or its allies.

With respect to CPR, the Panganiban Supreme Court will rule in favor of the government echoing the point that while freedom of expression is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, CPR is a time, place and manner regulation that neither undercuts nor undermines civil liberties.

Of course, it would be a pleasant surprise if the Panganiban Supreme Court will rule against the government in both cases. That would be a victory for civil liberties and constitutional principle of separation of powers. But then again, it is also entirely possible that the High Court will rule in favor of the Arroyo administration.

But if they do so, they run the risk of sacrificing their own moral credibility which is principally the only legitimate arsenal they have in enforcing and interpreting constitutional and legal principles. After all, they neither hold the purse nor the force of arms. It behooves upon them, therefore, to weigh the issues carefully lest the members of the bar and the hoi polloi shall construe a surrender of their judicial independence if both cases were to be resolved in favor of the Arroyo government.

For now, we wait and see.


Blogger Rizalist said...

hope that prediction on EO 464 turns out to be right. Also, how quickly they rule on it is impt since the Senate rightly complains that the testimony of exec officials is necessary for the budget hearings. If they DON'T rule on the issue for six more months, say, that will hardly be indicative of "independence" of the Judiciary.

11:40 PM  

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