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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.

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Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Friday, March 10, 2006

Presumption of Regularity

If there is one questionable presumption that has emboldened the government to strike with impunity, it is the disputable presumption of the regularity of the acts of government. That is found in Rule 131, Section 3(m) which states that:
“Sec. 3.     Disputable presumptions. — The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence:
xxxxx               xxxxx               xxxxx

(m)     That official duty has been regularly performed;”

This has been the battle cry of the Arroyo government.  The following governmental actions have invoked, implicitly or explicitly, this disputable presumption:

(a)     Calibrated Preemptive Response;
(b)     E. O. No. 464;
(c)     Proclamation 1017;

The defenders of the government have time and again raised this specter.  It is no less devious than the divine right of kings which has now been translated to the maxim that the State can do no wrong.      No longer do the powers rule at the sufferance of the governed, we are left to the mercy of the whims and caprices of the governing powers.  

But there is nothing regular with Lomibao’s hounds and Querol’s lapdogs when they broke up a rally which was refused permit by the demons in Manila and Quezon City. In fact, the law on permits specifically provide (and not a mere presumption) that an un-acted permit application is deemed granted.

There is nothing regular with E. O. 464. All the president’s men have hid beneath the president’s skirt. If even the bravest and boldest among them would not even step foot inside the Halls of the Senate, how much less the cowardly Rotarian Joc Joc Bolante whom the Rotary Club should either spit out of their enclave or just drop their sanctimonious and hypocritical 4-Way Test.

There is nothing regular with Proclamation 1017 when by virtue of that pronouncement, ignorant government mandarins who think common sense will suffice to interpret law brag about monitoring media, arresting anyone with impunity and lifting a female solon and detaining her without due regard to her status as a representative of the people.

These are the actions of a beleaguered administration.  Martial law is upon us whether we believe it or not.   The government says there is nothing to fear if you are not involved in any manner.  

But that is precisely the point. In a genuine democracy, the government has neither right nor business to threaten anyone that there is nothing to fear.  The government spreads a gospel of fear on us to prevent we, the people, from rising up anew.  What they cannot convince by the inanity of their logic, they will force upon us by our fear for violence.  

And all this has been covered and justified under this wretched presumption.  And what do the justices of the Supreme Court do about it? They refused to issue a TRO against the government because according to the Chief Justice, they had to listen to both sides before a TRO can be issued. That is a novel theory by the Chief.

Really?  Are both sides so equally yoked that the issuance of a TRO would have been so disadvantageous to the government?  I thought the law was meant to favor those who have less in law and in life.  With the government having all the arms, ordnance and manpower and have in fact abused the powers unmentioned in 1017, the very least the High Court should have done was to restrain the Executive Department from manhandling we the people or at least some parts of us who seek to exercise the Bill of Rights.

That it chose not to do so shows the pervasive ill effect of the disputable presumption of regularity. Even the High Court, the very temple of justice, has been blindsided to accede to the Executive Department’s inanities.

It is time for the Supreme Court to rise to the occasion.  We hope to await in hope.

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