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Oct 25

Last domino falling

Today the Supreme Court meets to tackle the biggest case in its post-Marcos history. The scuttlebutt is plentiful on what just might happen: see Ellen Tordesilla’s blog. Just how serious the situation is, is shown by the Inquirer’s headline for today: SC justices have made up their minds on Charter change. It seems one of the justices leaked to the paper that the court has made up its mind, that unless something derails the discussion, a decision has been written and would probably be released by the end of the day or tomorrow at the latest (Malaya in its story, suggests this is a probable outcome, too). And that the justice who talked to the paper is troubled by yesterday’s survey results. The Manila Times goes as far (even further than the Inquirer) in predicting the outcome of the decision: High Court ruling to favor initiative, it says:

A Court insider told The Times that the growing sentiment among the justices is to support the opinion of Senior Associate Justice Reynato Puno remanding to the Comelec the petition for the initiative filed by Raul Lambino, Sigaw ng Bayan convener, and Erico Aumentado, president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.

Puno had been assigned to write the opinion on the initiative petition. The 14 other justices will vote for or against his opinion.

The Court will then meet in a special en banc session on Wednesday to deliberate on Puno’s opinion. If approved, it will be adopted as the Court’s decision.

The source said all but two or three justices have not made up their mind, but that Puno’s opinion was hard to contest, because he is the Court’s senior magistrate and considered one of its brightest members.

The insider also said several of the justices were inclined to rule that the Comelec committed “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction” when it dismissed the petition.

In effect, the Court reverses the ruling of the Comelec and will require it to verify the 6.3 million signatures the petitioners submitted.

The Manila Standard-Today story is important, I believe, because it contains precisely the arguments (according to scuttlebutt, at least) that would be incorporated in a decision favorable to the government:

In particular, the justices will decide whether a 1997 injunction that the Court imposed on the Comelec involving a previous attempt to amend the Constitution should also be applied to the Sigaw ng Bayan petition.

The Comelec refused to entertain the Sigaw ng Bayan petition in August, citing the Court’s 1997 ruling.

But Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos said the poll body would hold a plebiscite for the proposed amendments to the Constitution if the Supreme Court ordered it.

“We have no discretion because of that [1997] injunction,” he said.

If the Court ruled in favor of Sigaw ng Bayan, the Comelec would begin verifying the certifications from local poll offices nationwide where the petitioners submitted their signatures, Abalos said.

In its petition, Sigaw ng Bayan argued that the 1997 Santiago vs Comelec case did not set a precedent for future cases.

With 6.3 million signatures of voters endorsing Charter Change, the proponents said, they had met the conditions for a people’s initiative as required by Republic Act 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act.

It will be interesting to compare the above, which hints at what the Palace would want to see in a decision, with whatever ends up decided by the Supreme Court. Among the scuttlebutt is that Justice Puno, as ponente, has drafted a decision saying: 1. law is sufficient; 2. Sigaw ng Bayan has locus standi (legal personality); 3. Santiago vs. Comelec decision is not stare decisis (not precedent) being a 6-7 decision.

The Philippine Star makes the interesting observation that for the powers-that-be, there is no Plan B:

Malacañang admitted the consequences of the Supreme Court turning down the petition would be “too difficult and too painful” for the Arroyo administration.

ULAP officials also shared the same view, saying it would be “now or never” for the people to realize their inherent right to directly propose amendments or revision of the basic law of the land.

The Black and White Movement, in an eloquent statement, says it is in God’s hands. As for One Voice, there’s Christian Monsod’s October 19 statement. The foremost question in many minds, of course, is whether the public will accept whatever ends up being the decision of the court.

My Arab News column for this week is Something Disturbing in the Plebiscite Demand.

The Inquirer editorial focuses on the survey concerning the Supreme Court (in a less hostile manner than Philippine Commentary, that’s for sure!)

And Manuel Buencamino has an imaginary conversation -with me!

56-Logo
In the blogosphere, see Riots in Hungary and Pestiside.hu for the latest in Buda -and how the people are being pests concerning their Prime Minister. But of course as the Palace propagandists tell us, the parliamentary system guarantees an end to people power. Not!

Over in David’s space, he differentiates between the two types of tear gas used by the Hungarian police. Between the Hammer and the Anvil, and Mike’s Neighborhood and ns_kumiho are quite taken by the irony of the 1956 protests turned 18-day revolution being marked with a Soviet T-34 tank and how protesters liberated it for the 2006 protests (see video). Back in September, Pestiside.hu thought comparisons between 1956 and 2006 were unfounded.

Medvekoma recalls the 1956 Revolution with pictures and reminds us, it isn’t if the revolution succeeded or failed, but that it took place that counts. The Daily Brief and the editors at A World to Win pays homage to the Hungarian resistance as well.

A Nagueño in the Blogosphere takes off from a comment thread in this blog and shows just how young our revolutionary generation was. Caffeine Sparks also responds to a link in this blog.

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19 comments

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  1. hvrds

    A major shift in goals might have just occured in the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Bush II ‘go to guy’ James Baker has just remarked in an interview: · “Hence, a fourth question: In a perhaps intentionally opaque statement on “The Charlie Rose Show” on Oct. 6, Baker said:

    “If we are able to promote representative — representative government, not necessarily democracy, in a number of nations in the Middle East and bring more freedom to the people of that part of the world, [Iraq] will have been a success.” Can President Bush’s “freedom agenda,” which Iraq has shredded, be recast by the Study Group’s showing that there is more than semantic sleight of hand in the distinction between democracy and representation? George Will, Washington Post

    Making an analogy here it is clear the U.S. will shred it pretenses about installing a “democratic” government and will settle for anyone who can break heads and unite the tribal factions under a strong government. Euphemism for finding a new Saddam who would be loyal to U.S. interests. All U.S. Arab allies in the Middle East are autocratic governments.

    Why should the Philippines be any different?

    Buencamino’s mythical interview was excellent but please note that Salvatorre Lucania aka Charlie ‘Lucky’ Luciano was honored by Time Life magazine (century end 2000 issue) as one of the corporate giants of the 20th century. He was featured right next to the likes of Watson of IBM, Ford, Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan and others who made corporate Amercia the envy of the world.

    The business of business is profit. The business of business in government is power to ensure profit. The Luciano/Seigle model is what the Philippines is good at. While S. Korea and China have state ownership of strategic industries, here we make sure that the state owns and controls the gambling casinos and right now the team of Gloria and Mike are running it.

    Ben ‘Bugsy’ Seigle would be proud of both of them. Erap got tossed by the numbers racket king of the North who jointly runs this country with Mike and Gloria.

    Now 15 men and women are supposed to decide on whether we will continue this Philippine version of ‘La Cosa Nostra’

    Are we dreaming?

    Shades of Batista and Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

  2. The Bystander

    if it’s really in God’s hands now, will he allow evil to triumph – that is – for the pro-chacha advocates to gain the nod of the supreme court?

    i hope and pray that God will heed our call for an end to all the lying, cheating and stealing this administration is known for..

    the thing is, these people want to be crooks till kingdom come.

  3. The Bystander

    if it’s really in God’s hands now, will he allow evil to triumph – that is – for the pro-chacha advocates to gain the nod of the supreme court?

    the thing is, these people want to be crooks till kingdom come.

  4. UP student

    As required by the organizational structure of the country, the Supreme court justices will base their decision primarily on what the Constitution says. They are not supposed to base their decision on the US Constitution nor on the Saudi Arabian constitution. And if the King James Bible conflicts with an entry in the 1987 Constitution, it should be the 1987 Constitution that should be used.
    “…In God’s hands now” is melodramatic verbage of little use — better if “Black&White Movement” cited three or four instances from the Constitution (and/or previous Supreme court decisions) that shed light on the matter at hand.

  5. The Bystander

    UP student,

    I think the BWM was merely in recognition of an accepted theological theory that there is a GOD who is presumed not to forsake us, especially in these trying times when everything seems to be heading the wrong way, at least as far as the administration is concerned. As to your suggestion that they cite 3 or 4 constitutional provisions instead of invoking divine intervention, i also think they have already done that — if only you were diligent enough to browse through their previous posts.

  6. The Bystander

    “The foremost question in many minds, of course, is whether the public will accept whatever ends up being the decision of the court.”

    – with the kind of apathy prevailing in the current atmosphere, for sure they will. this is what gloria and her gang of thieves are taking advantage of.

  7. cvj

    …there is a GOD who is presumed not to forsake us – Bystander

    Good luck trying to convince a ‘UP Student’ on that.

    (Sorry, i’m succumbing to stereotypes, but couldn’t resist.)

  8. Arbet

    Is this ABS-CBN News story true? Supreme Court rejects people’s initiative petition
    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=54228

    If so, yehey!

  9. The Bystander

    hahaha cvj. before UP Student and I debate on the biblical, it may not be amiss to remind you that i was only referring to God in the context of a recent article by the black and white movement which mlq3 linked to.

  10. Chabeli

    GOOD NEWS FOR ANTI-CHA CHA: THE SUPREME COURT JUNK THE PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE 8 to 7! I guess its Plan B for JdV using House of Rep to ram Cha-Cha!!!

    Per ABS CBN, “Those who voted AGAINST the people’s initiative’s petition were Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Antonio Carpio, Romeo Callejo Sr., Ma. Alicia Martinez, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Adolfo Azcuna.

    Those who voted FOR the petition were Justices Reynato Puno, Leonardo Quisumbing, Renato Corona, Dante Tinga, Cancio Garcia, Minita Chico-Nazario and Presbiterio Velasco Jr.”

    Justice Panganiban was the swing vote, voting AGAINST the PI, as to how the results came out to 8 to 7! Cloooooose call, in other words.

    WE MUST COMMEND CHIEF JUSTICE ARTEMIO PANGANIBAN!!! If not for his vote, the Supreme Court would have been yet another institution that Gloria and her Legions tried to collapse.

    The one to watch out for though is Justice REYNATO PUNO, whom Malacañan, apparently promised the Chief Justice seat to, when the current Chief Justice Art Panganiban retires in December 2006.

  11. andre

    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=54228

    there (still) is sanity in the country’s government, after all.

    mabuhay!

  12. DJB

    They can fool all the people all the time, but they can NEVER fool me, or anyone who got a C or higher in Logic 101 class. Public opinion polling is NOT rocket science, although around here grander empires have been built on more trivial things. What the Public must guard against in this case is the abuse of a well-earned reputation. SWS HAS done superb scientific public opinion polling — the best in Asia maybe. But now that it has earned the respect, and may I say the trust, of many people, it bears an awesome responsibility to ALWAYS maintain the highest standards of professionalism in the collection, interpretation AND reporting of statistical data.

    I urge all your readers to try and understand what I am saying is grievously wrong with the way the 3rd Quarter National Survey of SWS was reported both by SWS and as a result by PDI and ABSCBN.

    This is not about the usual innumeracies involving margin of error that I often notice in the surveys and reportage. Rather it is a VERY SOPHISTICATED way of reporting numerical results of a survey in a deceitfully misleading way. the explanation is at Philippine Commentary and wont get into it here.

    I hope SWS won’t be destroyed by things that happen which erode the respect of mathematically and statistically literate people.

    Now that, as predicted, the Supreme Court will in fact JUNK the people’s initiative, it certainly makes the Filipino people look like a bunch of faithless dolts, if we were to accept the headline Monday of PDI that 60% DOUBT the fairness of the Supreme Court.

    But NOTHING makes my blood boil more than to see perfectly good science and mathematics being USED for the ideological purposes of people who were obviously only ever good at English Composition.

  13. john marzan

    Good one, Manny B, on the imaginary conversation article with Manny Q.

  14. manuelbuencamino

    Thanks John. And Manolo says he does not talk that way.

  15. cvj

    UP [email protected]:04pm, apparently, the SC Justices did base their decision on Constitutions other than our own. Specifically, they cited the State Constitutions in the United States. They pointed out that:

    the deliberations of the framers of our Constitution clearly show that the framers intended to adopt the relevant American jurisprudence on people’s initiative

    Just like Newton, the Supreme Court in drafting its magnificent decision, stood on the shoulders of giants – the ‘giant’ in this case being American jurisprudence.

    With the above, i also would like to acknowledge that i stand corrected with regard to earlier comments i made to the effect that the SC Justices don’t listen to the intent of the framers. Looks like they at least read the transcripts and factor in the deliberations of the 1987 Constitutional Commission.

    As far as the Bible is concerned, CJ Panganiban, in his concurring opinion did make two references to Scripture in one instance citing Pontius Pilate and in another with this passage:

    “There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.

    Overall though, i believe you are still right since the Supreme Court did acknowledge that:

    “The Constitution, which embodies the people’s sovereign will, is the bible of this Court”

  16. Joe Padre

    I’ve resisted weighing in on the Charter Change dialogue because although so much has been said about it pro and con, I still think it’s the old wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing syndrome. The moral compass is broke, not inspite of religion per se, but because of our religious leaders’, as well as, the faithful’s creative interpretation of the moral tenets influenced mainly by short-term personal interests.

    What we need really is a massive attitude or belief system re-engineering carefully designed not only for the young child starting in school but also for adults. This re-engineering process should examine our belief systems–the ones we think are counterproductive, short-sighted, self-defeating, and at the root of our problems. For starters, let’s deal with “Bahala na ang Dios”, “maawain ang Dios”, “areglado”, “ang lagay”, “bahala na”, “bukas na ‘yan”, “O’po”, “sabi kasi’y”, “mapatawarin ang Dios”, “pwede na”, “baka sakaling makalusot”, “ayon sa”, “pwede ba, pare/mare”, etc. And for good measure, let’s have a better understanding and implementation of the “waiting-in-line discipline”.

    I don’t know the Department of Education will design the course on attitude/belief re-engineering to be incorporated in the school curricula as a required discipline for both young and adult education. In the content design phase, let’s make sure to exlude the professional politicians, the shallow religious leaders and the uncritical sentimentalists.

    Can this type of re-engineering happen? I was watching Diane Sawyer [of the popular “Good Morning America” television program] walking the streets and interviewing a few citizens somewhere in North Korea following the country’s recent nuclear test explosion. Good heavens, those interviewed have this uniform belief that the United States is the evil incarnate!

    No, I’m not suggesting a charter change to a communist form of government, although regimentation in some form less onerous than Kim Jong Il’s is a particularly attractive and seductive instrument to implement attitude/belief re-engineering.

  17. Joe Padre

    I meant “I don’t know how the Department of Education will design the course on attitude/belief re-engineering…” in the immediately preceding comment. Good grief, we’ve got a surfeit of very smart people who’d know how…

  18. cvj

    joe padre, i’m not sure if ‘attitude/belief re-engineering’ is the way to go. even if such a course can be designed, there’s too much conflicting signals from the outside environment that gives the message that crime does pay. in any case, as shown in the example of North Korea, regimentation leaves people open to all sorts of indoctrination of the wrong kind. we don’t want a nation of sheep. we want our people to be able to think for themselves. instead of wasting our limited education budget, a single example of a president going to jail for cheating in elections would reap more dividends in terms of lessons learned by our people.

  19. UP student

    Look to Saudi educational system for hints on how to implement attitude/belief re-engineering. Fourth-grade Saudi text tells students to “love for the sake of God”… cool… “and to hate for the sake of God” (not cool). The textbooks instruct students that Christians and Jews are “apes and pigs” (whoaaa!!!! bad stuff!!!) and warns students NOT to “greet,” “befriend” or “respect” non-believers. Included in the textbooks are teachings that every religion other than Islam is “false.”

    Click on newsclip from National Public Radio
    or on NBC newclip

    To instill pride, a tenth grade text teaches that the life of a Muslim is worth twice that of a non-Muslim. NOTE: these textbooks are being exported to CANADA and, mmabe (most likely???) also to the Philippines.

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