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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

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Davide: The New Moses

Now that Hilario Davide, Jr. is no longer Chief Justice, he can unrobe himself and revert back to the politician that he was during the Batasang Pambansa years.

In this political cauldron, all the ingredients for a change of government are abrewing except for one: a credible unifying standard bearer of the opposition.  

To date, no one has filled those shoes yet. Cory’s time has passed; Cardinal Sin has moved on; Erap is not acceptable and so are his children and spouse; Susan Roces hems too much and haws often; Noli de Castro is banking on the impeachment complaint to be filed this year so he can seamlessly take over power; Tito Sotto has simply not divested his “Eat Bulaga”roots; Serge Osmena would have been my preference, a credible and very smart figure but his marriage to a Lopez may be a factor against him; Mar Roxas would have been too but unlike Serge, he is too tentative and seems calculating.

Davide is the one man who can hold a candle to Mrs. Arroyo. I hope he is just biding his time.  Survey says people want change but are not in favor of people power.  And I think the underlying reason for people power fatigue is the unhappy thought that the Erap boys or Noli’s know-nothing countenance will take over government and it will be as Yogi Berra exclaimed:  “It is déjà vu all over again!”

After all, with the prospect of incompetent buffoons running the government, and with an “out with old, in with the old” revolving crop of leaders, who would be excited to face down the tanks or lay his life on the line?

And I hope in his daily quiet time with God, Mr. Davide would cut his Bible and  turn to Exodus with God commanding him: “Let my people go!”, then take up his shepherd rod and staff and lead the people out of this Egypt of blindness and apathy.

Let us pray for that day to come and for Davide to lead us out of bondage and darkness.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bench Warmers

This year will be a defining moment for the Supreme Court.

If the Executive Department had its years of glory and efficiency under Cory and Ramos and the Legislative Department its heyday in the time of Senators Taňada, Diokno and Recto, the judiciary will have a thousand flowers blooming this year.

A series of cases have been filed before the Supreme Court and it involves both the legislative and the Executive Department.

On the issues confronting the legislative department, we have some congressmen questioning the act of the Judiciary Committee and the plenary itself in dismissing the impeachment complaint against Mrs. Arroyo based on its warped  understanding of the one-year bar on the Arroyo impeachment complaints filed by 3 parties in succession.  This is going to be decided and harmonized in the light of the ruling laid down in Francisco v. House or Representatives which provided that impeachment is initiated upon filing and referral to the plenary.

Another litmus test would be: Whether the formation of a constituent assembly would require separate voting of each of the Houses in the legislature.  Speaker de Venecia and his henchman, Congressman Pichay, have voiced the sentiment that they can do without the Senate in amending the Constitution.  Senator Joker Arroyo belittled the antics of these two solons and dismissed the idea of charter change as un-Filipino.

On the part of the Executive Department, we have the issue of Executive Order No. 464 that will bedevil the High Court although I suspect that this case would  not be too difficult to resolve in favor of the Legislative branch of government.

There is also the issue on the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response which the leftist groups seemed to have lost all strength to test the extent of the government’s high handedness.

Likewise, the Garci petition which is neither here nor there, where he seeks to question the veracity of the contents even as he steadfastly refuses to acknowledge his voice on the tapes.  “Duh” is his middle name, I suppose.

Then, there is the uberRotarian Joc Joc Bolante, the model of truth and integrity in the Rotary Club, who has filed a case before the High Court seeking to stop the Senate from arresting him.  “Gall” is his middle name, I suppose.

All these cases will or must be decided within this year.  If these cases are not out by this year, it will be a serious blow and a mortal wound inflicted on the credibility and stature of the Judiciary.

It is up to Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban to raise the bar of judicial excellence. And this can only be manifested if he insists and exercises judicial independence and restraint from the twin powers of the purse and the arms.

These high profile cases must be decided this year.  Otherwise, the Supreme Court may possibly lose its high trust ratings and reputation among members of the bar and the public at large.

After all, justice delayed is justice denied.  More so, if the case involves the highest official of the land.  Should they not tackle these important manners this year, it will send the signal to the ordinary men and womenfolk that some are more equal than others.

In the meantime, while the justices unsheathed their verbal rapiers, I trust that the members of the bench will not fall short of the independence and bravery of the High Court.

Let the spirit of Arellano, Laurel and Teehankee live on. And dream on for truth and justice to prevail in this land. After all, in truth, there are no shades of grey. And keep our bench warm and the bar cozy for truth to slide in without fear or favor.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

GMA's Legitimacy

After reading Tita Cory's Statement on the Council of State, I have just one question:

If GMA's legitimacy is in doubt, why do we continue to address her as President?

In the spirit of being consistent with the belief that the last presidential election was stolen, should we not desist on calling her Madame President and just term her Mrs. Arroyo or just plain GMA? Calling her by those names would not be in the least disrespectful but at the same time, mindful of the fact that no legitimacy is conferred upon her despite heading this present government.

Calling her Madame President only adds to the confusion and apathy of the middle class. If we want truth to prevail, stop calling her President.

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.