Over the weekend, Newsbreak finally broke what was being whispered about for weeks: the furious behind-the-scenes lobbying going on involving the Supreme Court.
…people trusted by the President have been lobbying with select magistrates, causing the balance to shift several times the past two weeks between those who find merit and those who don’t with the case filed by the Sigaw ng Bayan Movement and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.
…As of October 13, the justices were likely to vote against the PI petition, according to Supreme Court insiders. The administration’s lobbying is focused on two justices who can deliver the swing votes. One of them, a senior justice, is reportedly being promised by Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. the position of chief justice. The incumbent chief justice, Artemio Panganiban, is retiring in December.
A pressure group involved is supposedly the Iglesia ni Cristo, to which one justice is sympathetic (if not beholden). While the “sweetener” for another justice who would otherwise be out of the running for Chief Justice is the extension of the age of retirement for members of the Supreme Court. This extension has been in the Jaraula amendments to the Constitution for some time.
Present Constitution: Section 11.The Members of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts shall hold office during good behavior until they reach the age of seventy years or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. The Supreme Court en banc shall have the power to discipline judges of lower courts, or order their dismissal by a vote of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.
Proposed Jaraula amendments: Section 11. The Members of the Supreme Court, and Justices and judges of lower courts shall hold office during good behavior until they reach the age of seventy five years or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. They shall have the option to retire at the age of seventy years with full benefits. The Supreme Court en banc shall have the power to discipline Justices and judges of lower courts, or order their dismissal by a vote of a majority of the Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted thereon.
But the fresh twist is resorting to an old trick: just as seats in a new, interim national assembly were offered to Constitutional Convention delegates in 1973 -provided they voted to approve the new constitution- so might term extensions be offered strictly on the basis of those justices who decide to vote in favor of the so-called “people’s initiative.” This, supposedly, is one enticement being made. It seems impossible to believe. Such suspicions have been raised because of this provision under the proposed amendments:
Art.XVIII, Section 5. The extension in Section 11 of Article VIII shall apply only to those appointed after the ratification of these amendments.
Meaning: with Chief Justice Panganiban due to retire in December, and the expected next Chief Justice, Puno, already in office when a referendum is expected to take place -the extension in term would apply to whoever becomes Chief Justice after Puno retires.
The papers all delve into what the Supremes might be up to: Justice Puno is the ponente (some sources have it that he was already beginning the writing even before the submission of evidence by opponents of the so-called initative); marathon deliberations are being mentioned; and really, this doesn’t seem to me the wisest of justifications: Revision or amendment? Who cares? Marcos did it, and so, that’s precedent. Hitler fused the office of Chancellor with that of Reich President, too. Good grief.
Law students I’ve talked to unanimously tell me the so-called people’s initiative can’t possible prosper because it’s clearly a revision and not amendment. Established lawyers say the same thing and don’t see how, even with legal contortions, the Supremes could wiggle out of such a basic conclusion. If the Justices are, as some suspect, moral or legal cowards, then the simplest -and maybe, only- way out is to declare the people’s initiative a political question and throw it to the people for resolution in a plebiscite.
On a related note, here’s how the Thais are proceeding with drafting their new constitution.
In the punditocracy, my column today is Fallen shepherd.
Bong Austero is peeved by the pork barrel.
In the blogosphere, Red’s Herring concludes the “let’s move on bandwagon” is the closing drama of a failed state.
Peryodistang Pinay on “queening,” and other aspects of transformational leadership.
Practice lateral thinking and figure out how these three bloggers are facets of one big picture: blurry brain questions the usual conclusions that multinational companies ignore nation-states with impunity. caffeine sparks asks her students what they learned. mongster’s nest considers liberals as part of the problem.
History Unfolding on the unfolding Republican debacle:
The President, faced with a truly serious crisis at home – the probable loss of one house of Congress – is staying in character, most notably in his full embrace of Dennis Hastert, which in my opinion is almost certain to compound a spreading electoral landslide. On September 1, the web site electoral-vote.com (linked below, although the results it shows do not update every day, as they are supposed to), which simply summarizes all available independent polling data, showed the Republicans leading in 52 Senate races. On October 1 that lead was holding steady, and Republicans led 219-216 in the House. Today, exactly two weeks later, the Democrats lead in 50 Senate races with Tennessee tied and George Allen’s lead in Virginia dramatically narrowing – and in the House the Democrats now lead 226-205 with four ties, a swing of twelve seats in two weeks, or almost exactly one seat per day. Should these trends hold up, the Democrats–who have really done remarkably little to awaken the public–will have to prove that they actually have some idea of how to get the country back on course. Whoever can do that may actually earn a great place in American history.
Morofilm starts a list of people he’d like to see in hell.