Media continues to focus on former president Fidel V. Ramos, since a much bandied-about showdown in the Lakas-CMD Party takes place this weekend:
GMA, Ramos to meet: One-on-one ahead of Lakas caucus (Manila Times)
FVR to attend meet despite GMA rebuff (Standard-Today)
And let’s play connect-the-stories.
First, regarding Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes, of whom it is said, the Palace wants kicked upstairs:
Reyes prefers DILG chief to ambassadorship to Washington (Manila Times)
Reyes sets sights on politics (Standard-Today)
GMA faces ouster, arrest by own execs, pals psychic (Daily Tribune)
Then, here’s a curious cluster:
Lozano readies new impeachment case (Manila Times)
New plan to impeach easier to kill, Palace feels (Standard-Today)
In other news,
Drilon prods SC on Arroyo’s gag order (Inquirer)
Judge fined for faulty decision on Palace property case (Manila Times)
Palace supports Dutch govt moves to extradite Joma (Manila Times)
Final cluster: survey sez-
Majority want President to shorten term – survey (Standard-Today)
No Gloria ouster, no Cha-cha OK — SWS (Daily Tribune)
tempest in a teapot: The Inquirer says ABS-CBN sacks De Castro’s show (ostensibly, according to anonymous source, for political reasons), ABS-CBN counters that ABS-CBN: No politics in axing Noli’s ‘MGB’. Blogger and journalist RG Cruz is not amused by the Inquirer headline.
In the punditocracy, my column for today is President for life (the title speaks for itself). Blogger Big Mango dissects my column and asks his own questions based on mine. Juan Mercado in his column today, kindly mentions one of my previous columns, and argues the only way out is the hard way. No quick solutions.
Columnists focus on Fidel V. Ramos: Patricio Diaz thinks he should think less of himself and stop thinking he’s a “super-president”; Bel Cunanan says Ramos should realize the President utterly trusts the people; Fel Maragay insists Ramos is loyal to the President; Tony Abaya has a devastating column pointing out the Ramos solution actually would result in a hundred day-plus power vacuum.
The Business Mirror editorial says it is dangerous to view constitutional change as a means of getting rid of the President.
Dong Puno thinks a People’s Initiative to ram through charter change is quite possibly doomed:
…the Constitution expressly provides that initiative is limited to proposed amendments, not to proposed revisions. Section 1 of Art. XVII states that any amendment or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by the Congress by a three-fourths vote of all its members, or by a constitutional convention. However, Section 2, which covers people’s initiative, refers only to “amendments.”
In Defensor-Santiago vs. Comelec, the Supreme Court noted that this distinction was deliberate on the part of the framers of the organic law. The proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission made clear that the delegates intended to limit initiative to amendments which did not involve fundamental changes in political philosophy or fundamental structures and institutions of government, to wit:
“MR. SUAREZ: The committee members felt that the system of initiative should not extend to the revision of the entire Constitution, so we removed it from the operation of Section 1 of the proposed Article on Amendment or Revision.”
These are formidable legal obstacles for the proponents of a people’s initiative..the pro-initiative forces could also hope that a re-filing of the case before the Supreme Court, assuming they are able to come up with a controversy which the Court takes cognizance of, results in a new verdict. This hope would not be without basis.
Defensor-Santiago was penned by then Associate Justice Hilario Davide, and concurred in by seven Justices. Five Justices dissented and said that R.A. 6735 did implement the right of the people to propose amendments through initiative. One felt the case was premature, the Court’s rulings at best non-binding and possibly obiter dictum.
Of all the Supreme Court Justices sitting at the time, only two remain on the Court, now Chief Justice Panganiban and ranking Senior Justice Reynato Puno. Both were among the dissenters in Defensor-Santiago. Do pro-initiative adherents therefore have reason to be optimistic that the ruling might be reversed? The only way to know for sure is to file an appropriate case in the High Court.
One remaining conundrum is that neither of the remaining Justices tackled the issue of a revision vs. an amendment. The pro-initiative forces will have to find a way around this obstacle. It may be a veritable Gordian Knot.
Alex Magno says there’s an important distinction between digitizing and mechanizing elections:
I had long conversations with Bernardo Pardo when he was chairman of the Comelec. During that time, I tried to dissuade him from investing public money in mechanizing the counting process. That was not the problem.
I encouraged him to look into the possibility of digitalizing the process to help ensure its integrity. But that required a digitally-based national identification system which many groups opposed.
Today, with tamper-proof laser cards, it will be cheaper to digitalize the electoral process than to try to mechanize it with counting machines that break down more often than they work. Digitalization will make the process more convenient for the voters, more insulated from fraud, more efficient in determining the results and therefore more credible to the public.
Countries like Brazil have digitalized the electoral process over a decade ago way ahead of the US, which is fascinated with mechanizing the process — and by so doing, invites such precipitous and absurd situations as the closely contested presidential elections in the state of Florida in 2000.
What needs to be done with our electoral system apart from creating a digital backbone?
…Raul Lambino, put a lot of hard thinking and hard work proposing reforms in the electoral process……. proposes a number of innovative reforms to straighten up our electoral process.
To begin with… reduce the number of commissioners to 5 from the current 7, always sitting en banc rather than splitting into divisions.
…. that the Comelec be stripped of its judicial powers. Those powers will be transferred to the regional trial courts sitting as special electoral courts during the election period. This way, urgent protests can be attended to immediately all over the country.
….do away with pre-proclamation controversies which is the biggest source of corruption during the electoral period. The special electoral courts will dispense with the controversies immediately and cause proclamation to proceed at a much earlier time.
…strengthening of the Board of Election inspectors in every precinct; a redesign of the ballots to photographs of the candidates and color codes for the parties they belong to; and separate ballots for national, provincial and municipal officials.
Lambino also proposes an entirely new registration of voters to cleanse the present list which he suspects is padded by about two million fictitious voters. This new registration should be accompanied by the issuance of an electronic ID to voters so that they could vote even if the voters’ lists are shuffled, stolen or tampered. That will ensure against systematic disenfranchisement.
In the blogosphere: Ricky Carandang announces he has a new show, and discusses what it was like to spend time with the Speaker of the House. Among other things: Speaker Jose de Venecia has parted ways with former president Ramos and is siding with the President to keep her in office until 2010. He is also inclined to support the Abalos Comelec and to bat for no elections in 2007.
Filipino Mind points to a Malaysian’s defense of nationalism.
The difference between India and the Philippines? Torn & Frayed says: the moustache.
Quote of the Day:
I owe my life to the Constitution. And my adherence to it is a passionate obsession.
Ferdinand E. Marcos
Address, Philconsa anniversary, May 4, 1967. He changed the constitution six years later.