Railroading begins?

Tabulation of Maguindanao votes starts and the account, as published, bears thinking about in terms of Christian Monsod’s observations about the process (see yesterday’s entry):

Throughout the day, De Lima railed at the continued refusal of Santos to allow her and Brillantes to question the municipal board chairmen. “Why your honor, can we not ask questions?” De Lima asked, stressing each word.

At one point, De Lima said: “This is all part of railroading of the proceedings.”

Santos said the opposition can bring all their motions and objections before the National Board of Canvassers. Earlier in the day, he opened the canvassing by saying: “We are here to uncover the truth.”

But he said that since his was only a “special board, the rules of an ordinary provincial board of canvassers” did not apply.

Throughout the day’s exchange, TEAM Unity counsel George Garcia agreed with the rulings of Santos.

The opposition lawyers are asking partisan (obviously) but sensible questions. A blogger who says she hates politics, Lucid Unreality, had this to say:

Abalos is right, an election took place in Maguindanao because of the “proof” accompanying the certificates of canvas. No one’s questioning that. The integrity of those certificates is what I’m worried about. How sure are we that it wasn’t tampered with? It’s that simple. And for someone who hates politics and wants nothing of it, I’m pretty darn affected by such a simple fact really.

And the Supreme Court seems to be hinting it would prefer no proclamation at this time: SC defers decision on Maguindanao canvassing:

Although no temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued, Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the high court is hoping the COMELEC will defer any action that will render Pimentel’s petition moot.

If canvassing pushes through and the 12th senator is proclaimed, Marquez said legal remedies are available to revert the ruling of the COMELEC.

Meanwhile, a fire-breathing Chairman: Abalos on critics: They can jump to hell. See an OFW Living in Hong Kong for his views on the Comelec Chairman’s “courage”. Another fire-breathing official: PNP mulls probe, gun raps vs defiant, pistol-packing Bedol.

Another PR problem: Philippines likely to exceed 2007 deficit goal – JP Morgan. If the cornerstone of this administration’s PR is that it has the deficit -and thus, the economy- firmly in hand, what does it say if the foreign observers that once sang its praises, say that government’s fiscal grip is slipping?

Meanwhile, it was announced that Finance seeks toll fee tax but today, it’s Executives debate VAT on toll. Which is it? The Business Mirror editorial says government’s trying to find creative ways to further squeeze the public:

Here’s the rub: toll-way operators currently don’t pay VAT since, they say, the old law doesn’t specifically tell them to do so. So counterintuitively, Malacañang spin masters thought that if the law doesn’t say so, it could also mean the government is not prevented by the law from collecting VAT from the toll ways.

It’s a kind of creative and funny logic. We’d like to laugh but we can’t because of its possible negative implications. The government hopes to collect at least a billion pesos but it’s not certain how much it would cost ordinary Filipinos. It’s certain that toll operators would pass the extra cost to consumers by raising fares.

Economically, that would mean higher transport costs to vehicle owners and operators, which could cascade in terms of higher bus and FX fares for commuters; higher prices of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and cereals as viajeros are likely to pass on the cost to consumers; higher cost of business to entrepreneurs big and small on top of the already high transactions cost (read: expensive electricity, high port users’ charges and high cost of long-distance calls) that they currently bear; and which could ultimately spell economic difficulties to wage earners.

But the real question is, why isn’t government focusing on governance?

In hindsight, the real issue here is probably not all about taxes but governance – or the lack of it. If we take it from, Sen. Ralph Recto, tolls are “VAT-able” and have always been covered by the original VAT law. What motorists are paying right now is already VAT-inclusive – supposedly.

That means we have always been paying VAT at the toll and there’s no need to raise toll rates. If his presumption is right, the question now is “where’s the money?” Does it mean the toll operators like PNCC were collecting VAT money and pretending it’s their money?

Now you can imprison your critics and steal elections, and businessmen won’t mind, but mention taxes and businessmen suddenly become rebellious. And so, the President has to pour oil on troubled waters: Arroyo assures no new taxes on telcos.

Not just the fiscal grip’s loosening: the grip on the patronage position holders has slipped, too. The insubordination continues. 77 GOCC execs tender resignations:

The 23 GOCCs account for only one-fifth of the 117 government corporations, including government financial institutions (GFIs), whose heads were asked to tender their courtesy resignations last June 9.

In other economics news, some good news: Government saves P14.6B on interest payments in first 5 months. But Bangko Sentral isn’t happy with the strength of the Peso: Smaller BOP surplus eyed to curb Peso rise.
President will insist on her prerogative to pick and choose which senate summons her officials will heed. Also, AFP warns generals linking military to summary executions. The executive-military resistance to being taken to task for human rights violations faces a formidable adversary: the Supreme Court. There’s an explanation of why this is so, in Newsbreak, Atty. Teddy Te points out presidential prerogatives may end up severely circumscribed by the Supreme Court, which is poised to exercise some formidable, though little known, powers. See also, SC Takes New Role in National Debate.
Original copies of RP-china MOAs stolen, not lost — NBI The plot thickens?

And this is nice: Al Gore lauds Bacolod NGO for climate change solution.

Overseas, a highly relevant opinion piece on Why Indonesia needs a new social policy?

The question is: Why is Indonesia so far behind its neighboring countries? And why it is the slowest Asian country to recover from a financial crisis?

Government policies show there are two approaches to the problem: Focussing on economic growth and maintaining macro stability through tight fiscal policy — and developing partial ad-hoc social policy to tackle poverty through a social safety net program.

In the first approach the economic policy concentrates on how the economy could grow with very little cost. It concentrates on how government spending could become efficient by reducing subsidies and fostering privatization.

But the poverty reduction program including the social safety net deals with the problem of poverty in an ad-hoc manner.

In short, there is a disconnect between economic policy and social policy.

See also Free Trade End Game in Seoul, and Taiwan’s Politics are Growing Up. And What fish markets tell us about the economy.

Michael Bloomberg is the money candidate and the press loves him for it. Great opening lines:

Michael Bloomberg, who was never really a Republican, became one because it was the easiest way for him to become mayor of New York.

Now Bloomberg has become an independent, because it is the easiest way for him to become president of the United States.

In politics, this is what we call principle.

History Unfolding says President Bush is a kind of decorative monarch, and that his sinister prime minister is Vice President Dick Cheney:

…the Bush Administration has led us to disaster essentially by gutting, and ignoring, the whole federal structure as it has evolved, literally, since the beginning of the Republic. Not only the bureaucracy–that Republican bogeyman for 65 years–but also the Cabinet, including loyalists like John Ashcroft as well as moderates like Colin Powell–have been completely bypassed by Cheney’s office. National Security Advisor Rice, as has been known for some time, lost her autonomy to Cheney during Bush’s first term (and is now in renewed battles with him as Secretary of State over Guantanamo and, very likely, Iran.)…

President Bush for the last six years has focused on “staying on message.” It is beginning to look, really and truly, as though that is all he does. Like a British monarch giving a series of King’s speeches, he is the public face of the Administration’s policy but he is neither designing it or directing it except in the most general (and never-varying) terms. And indeed, some of his own most deeply held beliefs–such as the need to promote democracy–have not really been reflected in policy because the Vice President does not share them.

and check this out: Facebook v MySpace – a class divide:

Ms Boyd also conjectures that the US military’s recent decision to ban personnel from using sites including MySpace is evidence of social fissures in the armed forces. “A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because there’s a division, even in the military. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook.”

In the punditocracy, Julis Fortuna says de Venecia’s reelection as Speaker is a sure thing. Jose Ma. Montelibano is all praises for Gawad Kalinga; they deserve praise, indeed, but I continue to think their great crisis will come, when they realize, though they refuse to see it now, that they will need to be politically involved sooner, rather than later. Heroism is slipping, to my mind, too freely and easily from their tongues; it requires sacrifice and confrontation. And by the way, mass housing provides tax perks, besides big business: Number of firms availing of tax perks rises: Mass housing sector a booming business.

Generation gap: a letter to the editor from a grandmother complains of Immature politics, disrespectful solons. For for the younger generation’s views, see The Purple Phoenix Talks about Philippine Politics

In the blogosphere, [email protected] does a little sleuthing concerning accusations that congressmen were trying to extort bribes to approve presidential appointments. This is a bad season for congressmen: Anti-smuggling chief says congressmen pressuring him to release smuggled goods.

Patsada Karajaw dissects various political doctrines that have been proposed as a result of the May elections.

Philippine Commentary further dissects the Anti-Terrorism law.

My Inquirer Current entry would have benefited from reading the views and questions of Reyna Elena regarding Koreans in the Philippines:

But as hundreds of us pile up at POEA, line up the intenet cafe to browse for jobs overseas, fly out daily to places as far as Azerbajian and Honduras where we think we can find our Philippine Dream (*saglit lang. me Philippine Dream ba?), – ANYWAY – check out who are the people flying to Manila in droves!!! It’s the Koreans and the Chinese!!! And look! They are coming to our dear kawntri for the very same reasons why we are all leaving the Philippines?!

In La Vida Lawyer, there’s an utterly fascinating letter penned by Marcelo H. del Pilar about the social and political dynamics of Filipinos in Spain. It reads like it could have been written about any Filipino organization, anywhere, and the leadership fights that inevitably occur.

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    • Jon Mariano on June 26, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    If Maguindanao votes are included in the Senate race, Zubiri will win by about 100,000 votes over Koko Pimentel.

    Koko will file a protest. He will win but will only serve one day as senator. If that happens, that would be the cruelest joke ever in his young life! All because Abalos followed the law in doing his job.

    • DJB on June 26, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Imagine that the Congress passes a new law in which extortion and blackmail or mass murder get ten times the jail time as they do now, but only when they are committed between Monday and Saturday, because it is automatically suspended on Sunday.

    Imagine further that when a person is found innocent of an offense against the new law that the law enforcers who arrested and detained him may now be obliged to pay a “fine” of P500,000 per day that he was detained.

    Who would fear such a law, when it tells you how to get around it? (just commit the forbidden acts on a Sunday).

    Only the law enforcers would fear such a law and would never touch it now with a 10 foot pole.

    That is why the Human Security Act, thanks to Nene Pimentel, Jamby Madrigal and the entire Liberal Establishment, is a worthless law. Worse it HELPS the terrorists.

    We have infantilized this problem and real terrorists probably think we are stupid. They would appear to be right.

  1. proffer. when the person is not being allowed to answer, proffer the question and then, the answer; then proffer some more, hell, litter the record and proffer a dozen (of course, you’ll probably be declared out of order when the judge/ chair catches on…but they are out order.)

    • DJB on June 26, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Oh, and in case all you human rights defenders out there missed this, the Human Security Act is automatically suspended for three months around every election!

    • pj m. on June 26, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    I’ve been a longtime reader of your column in the Inquirer, but I’ve never been moved to comment here until I read this (which expresses my sentiments about GK exactly):

    [quote]Jose Ma. Montelibano is all praises for Gawad Kalinga; they deserve praise, indeed, but I continue to think their great crisis will come, when they realize, though they refuse to see it now, that they will need to be politically involved sooner, rather than later. Heroism is slipping, to my mind, too freely and easily from their tongues; it requires sacrifice and confrontation.[/quote]

    Thank you for saying that. I think it really had (has) to be said.

    • DJB on June 26, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Judicial putschism as practiced and promoted by Hilario Davide has found a new and even more dangerous champion in the grandstanding Chief Justice Reynato Puno. I think he’s just angling for a job in one of those Kangaroo Courts in Geneva and The Hague for after retirement. I wonder what ever happened to the idea of “justiciable cases”? Folks, we are playing with fire now…often solutions that are inspired by a wholly wrong notion of the role of the Judiciary lead to the exact opposite of their stated intentions. The root of alleged extrajudicial killings is the evil of the communist insurgency conjuring up its own evil twin in the Military: that the end justifies the means.

    Perhaps Puno will change the Supreme Court’s motto to:
    WHY BE FAIR WHEN YOU CAN BE RIGHT?

    • Jaxius on June 26, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    DJB,

    Can’t we wait until the SC comes up with something before we set it on fire?

    • Chabeli on June 26, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    “Abalos on critics: They can jump to hell.”

    Shouldn’t this read, Critics to Abalos: GO TO HELL !

    • Shaman of Malilipot on June 26, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    There goes DJB and his drivel again.

    I applaud the SC’s plan to exercise its constitutional power to make rules to protect human rights and safeguard the rule of law in this country. The Judiciary cannot just sit idly by while the Executive (with the security services) and the Legislative (read the House) make a mockery of the rule of law.

    • Jeg on June 26, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    I applaud the SC’s plan to exercise its constitutional power to make rules to protect human rights and safeguard the rule of law in this country.

    But shaman, the SC isnt supposed to ‘make rules.’ That belongs to the other branch of government, the legislative.

    • DJB on June 26, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Jaxius,
    Ahead of these extrajudicial killings and their alleged victims are nearly a million unresolved cases clogging the Judiciary, among them the thousands of murders, extortions, kidnappings, school building burnings, raids on armories, land mine attacks on buses, use of children as human shields and as soldiers, –committed over the years by the Npa and their brave comrades.

    Who’s maintaining websites counting those victims? Are leftists and communists the only ones with “human rights”?

    Those cases have been awaiting adjudication for a long, long time.

    Does it makes sense to you that Mr. Judicial Reformer Puno goes to work on the cases that happen to have such a high value potential to bring him to Geneva in about a year?

    (It makes sense to me!– considering the run of barrio-athlete Chief Justices we’ve had in recent times who read the Bible more than the Constitution.)

    How can the killings by both sides be stopped? Only when the CPP NPA lays down its arms and joins the rest of us in nonviolent means of political and economic reform.

    Regrettable as it is, there is really no public outrage over any of these killings because the Filipino people seem to know that they are victims in a war of their own making. A war against the democratic system that they’ve never supported — which is why it has never succeeded!

    • manuelbuencamino on June 26, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    “How can the killings by both sides be stopped? Only when the CPP NPA lays down its arms and joins the rest of us in nonviolent means of political and economic reform.”

    Oooh… I’m getting a hard on thinking about all the islamocommiefascists “laying down their arms and joining the rest of us, including Norbie Gonzalez, in nonviolent means of political and economic reform.” ,,,ooh…..i love to hear things like that…ooh… give me more…

    “Regrettable as it is, there is really no public outrage over any of these killings because the Filipino people seem to know that they are victims in a war of their own making. A war against the democratic system that they’ve never supported — which is why it has never succeeded!”

    oooh…oooh…don’t hold back baby… let’s spread our cheeks for the AFP PNP …oooh…oooh…

    • manuelbuencamino on June 26, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Can Jack Bauer be our anti-terror czar? Pleeeze…pretty pleeeze…

    • manuelbuencamino on June 26, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    ” The root of alleged extrajudicial killings is the evil of the communist insurgency conjuring up its own evil twin in the Military: that the end justifies the means.”

    “I love the smell of burnt genitals in the morning..The smell, you know that smel…. Smelled like… victory. Someday this war’s gonna end….”

    • ay_naku on June 26, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Bakit ganun, kung sino pa yung mga balasubas (Abalos, Bedol, etc) sila pa yung matatapang at sisiga-siga magsalita? Shouldn’t they be cowering from the nation’s outrage? Maybe it’s because they know that they will get away with their shenanigans. Garci did, didn’t he? They know they’re protected by the powers-that-be, and there’s really nothing we can do about it. Tha’s the sorry state we are in.

    • DJB on June 26, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    MB,
    And your point is?

    • mlq3 on June 26, 2007 at 8:41 pm
      Author

    i think the sc sets the rules of court, jeg.

    • ay_naku on June 26, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    From the Manila Standard: “(Chief presidential legal counsel) Apostol said Palace officials are willing to sit down and discuss with the SC justices on “what could be changed and what could not be changed” insofar as rules on the appearance of Cabinet members in congressional inquiries are concerned.”

    So now the Palace can now openly dicate (or least exert tremendous pressure) on the SC? Incredible na talaga.

    • Jaxius on June 26, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    DJB,

    To echo Atty. Saguisag’s position on the matter, it is expected that the NPAs operate out of the system and cannot be subjected to the tests we impose on our government which must always stick to the high ground. That’s why they are rebels and if those depradations were not in pursuance of rebellon, we treat them as common criminals.

    • ay_naku on June 26, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    But shaman, the SC isnt supposed to ‘make rules.’ That belongs to the other branch of government, the legislative.

    In case you missed reading the relevant articles, the Constitution gives such powers to the SC. Article VIII, section 5(5) vests the Supreme Court with the sole authority to “promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of human rights.”

    • ay_naku on June 26, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    How can the killings by both sides be stopped? Only when the CPP NPA lays down its arms and joins the rest of us in nonviolent means of political and economic reform.

    It is one thing to kill armed NPA combatants in battle, it is an altogether different matter to murder unarmed activists. That is just sheer brutality and lawlessness.

    • manuelbuencamino on June 27, 2007 at 12:22 am

    DJB,

    I was just pointing out the masochism, the Hollywood fantasy, and the sadism involved in the christianglocapitalist jihad. That’s all.

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 5:50 am

    mb,
    tell that to Father Bossi and his suffering relatives.

    ay naku,
    that is the attitude that has sustained the insurgency all these years. that is the delusion that “unarmed activists” are not involved in the insurgency. Yet who supplies the armed wing with arms, money, food, and new recruits on top of conducting the necessary propaganda and counter-intelligence? Unarmed activists!

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 5:56 am

    mlq3,
    True the SC sets the “rules of court”. But honestly, imagine that this is Narvasa and not Puno and the stated agenda is to bring leftist and islamo killers to jail? Would you be so sanguine about changing the “rules of court?” Is this really Blind Justice Puno is trying to do. Or grandstanding for his new European Union pals? He’ll retire to Geneva and leave a bunch of headline-gobbling hosanna giving idolizers here. Meantime, remember that any change can cut ALL ways and always. It’ll be like davide: Good intentions with terrible unintended consequences.

    God Save the Constitution!

  2. ei! mlq3! thanks for tagging me in your blog entry. i noticed a lot of 404 code in my stats and when i checked, sorry, i moved my entry.

    to all jumpers, here’s the link of my crazy korean article:
    http://reynaelena.com/2007/06/25/why-are-there-so-many-koreans-in-the-philippines/

    marami pong salamat!

    *bow*

    *amen*

    *ba-bay*

    *kaway*

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 6:38 am

    A rogue Chief Jutice like Davide, and possibly now Reynato Puno, can be the greatest danger to a constitutional democracy, at least as much as the Chief Executive, like Marcos was.

    The Judiciary is not the NBI or the police or the military. If they get confused about this they could really screw the pooch and give Fascists a real opening worse than we have now.

    The danger lies in this: Puno will retire long before the real consequences of any changes they now make will become evident. He knows he doesn’t have to live with any changes he makes, as long as he gets his headlines and goes to Geneva, what does he really care? (I hear Davide has box-seat Tickets to the Opera this season.)

    “Command Responsbility” is apparently the theme they will use to justify some radical changes. Ha! Look who’s talking with that million case backlog in the Judiciary.

    I am prepared to wait and see, Jaxius, but with open eyes and eager keyboard.

    • Bencard on June 27, 2007 at 6:45 am

    DJB, i find myself in agreement with most of your comments in this thread except that while the SC sets its own rules, it is only on procedures (how to go about enforcing a right), not on substantive law (what is your right). whether its narvasa, davide or puno as th cj, the SC is a collegial body that acts as a single unit, not individually.
    I would think that puno cannot set the rules single-handedly according to his own exclusive agenda.

    what really bothers me is the apparent conferment of quasi-executive and quasi-legislative powers and functions to SC by Art. VIII, sec. 5(5). If this does not destroy the essence of judicial power and restraint, as we know them, or improperly politicizes the judiciary, i don’t know what will. A human rights rule-maker, prosecutor, judge and enforcer rolled into one?

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 7:11 am

    Bencard,

    Davide was one of the principal authors of the 1987 Constitution. He will go down in History as the worst and most destructive Chief Justice ever because he simply threw the whole thing out in 2001. When he saw that the conclusion would not be “right” (Erap was sure of acquittal by 16 January) he decided he did not have to be “fair” and simply aborted the trial by swearing in GMA. Then his peers on the Court blessed him and ruled that a President already sure of acquittal nonetheless resigned!

    Only a few who could defend the Law even if it made them look like they were defending Erap. Now it’s Esperon’s turn and that of the Military. What with fat-cat international lawyers inspiring dreams of glory in these retiring unelected judges, they will also be skewered to massive applause from the usual suspects.

    Folks, Justice is only done when two things happen:

    (1) The correct conclusion about a justiciable case is reached. (the “ends”); and
    (2) That conclusion is reached fairly and according to Law. (the “means”)

    Means and ends.
    Fair AND right.

    Without that we get Davide’s Deviltry. Curse him!

    • vic on June 27, 2007 at 8:59 am

    I think it is still the Legislative Branch to make the law, the Executive to execute it, and the Judicial to enforce it. Stick with the process and we don’t need one branch overlapping or taking the other responsibilities, just checking on each other…

    • Bencard on June 27, 2007 at 9:15 am

    djb, i did not get to see your 6:38 post until i posted mine at 6:40. this is where we part company. as i said, it doesn’t matter if its davide or puno. no single justice, whether or not a cj, can impose his personal agenda on the sc.

    you seem to misunderstand the role of a cj in an impeachment trial. he is there to preside, not to judge. he could not, and did not, walk out to end the proceedings. it was the prosecutor- congressmen followed by the majority senator-judges, who did. what did you expect? order those who walked out to come back like recalcitrant grade school kids? who could he have summoned to enforce that order when practically the armed forces and police, including perhaps the sargeant-at-arms of the senate, were caught in the maelstrom of the crisis brought about by the angry multitudes massing at edsa and its environs. even erap himself, his visible family and palace courtiers and cohorts, with all semblance of fight and bravado gone from their faces, had to leave the palace in unmistakable surrender. why then dump the blame on davide for all that? and the language you use to demonize him rivals buencamino’s – the master of hate and words of aggression.

    one more time, davide did not single-handedly decide that erap had effectively “abandoned” his office. while he wrote the controlling opinion, the decision was by a unanimous vote of all the justices. under the circumstances, i personally think they all did the “right thing” and saved the country from disaster, the magnitude of which is too hard to contemplate. in any event, it was the final decision of our court of last resort. except for those living outside of the law, let us all respect it.

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Bencard:“davide did not single-handedly decide that erap had effectively “abandoned” his office. while he wrote the controlling opinion, the decision was by a unanimous vote of all the justices.”

    On 20 January 2001, what “justiciable case” did the Supreme Court rule upon, according to you, that allowed Davide to go to Edsa?

    None! It was a fax from Gloria asking to be sworn in because Erap was PERMANENTLY DISABLED. No opinion or decision was written, because the decision to go to edsa was done less than an hour AFTER the fax arrived at 11:36 am of that day! And there was simply no case for them to decide. just an invitation to ignore the Constitution, which Davide accepted on his own.

    The bit about resignation did not occur until March 2001, in the decision Estrada vs. Arroyo, where Davide and Panganiban both recused themselves, since it was Davide’s actions on 20 January that decided matters. That was when they changed the “reason” for regime change from permanent disablity (which was utterly absurd!) to constructive resignation.

    As for being the presiding judge, the impeachment trial was the only official function of the CJ at that point in time. He could easily have ordered the prosecution back. Did he? No! He joined them in Edsa.

    It’s only because some people liked the result that they even today don’t care about the means.

    Wait till the result is something you don’t like…

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Bencard:
    There are five and only five ways that a Presidency can validly end under the 1987 Constitution:

    (1) The President dies.
    (2) The President is permanently disabled.
    (3) The President is impeached and convicted.
    (4) The President resigns.
    (5) The President’s six year term ends.

    Which condition was legally established for Erap BY 20 Jan 2001 when Davide swore in GMA?

    • Jeg on June 27, 2007 at 11:24 am

    But DJB, in those 5 ways you mentioned, a ‘justiciable case’ is not necessary before a CJ swears in a new president. Or is it? In case a president dies, should a case be brought before the SC claiming the president is dead before the CJ swears in the VP? Isnt the fact that the president is dead enough?

    Granted, there are no dead bodies for option no. 2. The swearing in of the VP in 2001 was based on a claim of permanent disability on the part of the president and the CJ believed it and swore in the VP based on the prevailing circumstances. Why is that ‘wrong’? What should the CJ have done in this case? Are there written rules or procedures or legal precedents he should have followed? If there are none, then isnt the swearing in of the VP based on the judgement call of the CJ enough?

    • Jeg on June 27, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Oops.. I meant “The swearing in of the VP in 2001 was based on a claim of permanent disability on the part of the VICE president…”

    • Bencard on June 27, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    djb, when a president cannot effectively discharge the duties of his office, whether because of temporary physical, mental or emotional disability, or is temporarily absent from the jurisdiction, the vice president (as the constitutional successor) assumes the duties of the presidency. between january and march 2001, gma was acting president because estrada had left malacanang and unable (or unwilling) to do the job, making public statements that the court later found were tantamount to “constructive” resignation.

    of course there was no “justiciable” case in january. there was no complaint or petition filed because there was no cause of action on either side. it was just a matter of straightforward succession which estrada did not contest , nor formally questioned. for a while until march, it appeared that he was ready to fade into the sunset and enjoy his stash and “legacy” with his loved ones – quite a bit of them. otherwise, he would have raised hell right then and there. don’t you think?

    but then, indictment for plunder became imminent and a reality, and estrada’s lawyers had to scramble for ways to reclaim the presidency, or better, to obtain a judicial declaration that he never ceased to be president, and therefore, not indictable for any crime for the duration of his term. thus, estrada vs. arroyo came into being.

    it is easy for a non-lawyer (especially an engineer) not to understand the term “constructive” in a juridical sense. it is a legal concept that has its root in equity like e.g., estoppel in pais, constructive trust, constructive abandonment, etc. it was not a principle arbitrarily invented by the davide court to fit the occasion. there were legal and equitable basis for it such as the very conduct and statements of estrada after leaving malacanang and prior to his indictment, among other things. in effect, constructive is the same as actual. constructive resignation is no less actionable as basis for ending tenure, and justiciable as actual resignation.

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    jeg,
    the constitution is very specific in the case of permanent disability. There must be a doctors certification, a majority of the cabinet must agree with the certification, and various other requirements to make sure it is not a false claim. If they had spent even 24 hours verifying the claim, it would not have stood. but on 20 january 2001, the claim of permanent disability arrived at 11:36 am. By 12:30 pm GMA was President! Davide ignored the specific requirement of the constitution for verying and certifying that the president was indeed permanently disabled. They could have called the Palace and talked to Erap! I saw him on tv several times the day before and after.

    It is intellectually dishonest to claim that he saw the VEEP’s fax and jumped into a cab to swear her in, and then say that is defensible.

    bencard,
    what do you call the Impeachement Trial of Erap? Peanuts? THAT was the “justiciable case” in December and January. The so called unanmious decision you are referring too over the fax had nothing to do with the case that Davide was sworn to adjudicate.

    Estrada did not contest the “succession”??

    Then what do you call the case he filed on Monday 22 January 2001 which is now known as Estrada vs. Arroyo? Cashew nuts?

    His mistake (due to Saguisag) was suing GMA instead of Davide!

    Edsa 2 was coup d’etat by the Chief Justice in conspiracy with the Chief of Staff of AFP, with the VP and with Cardinal of Manila. Those are the facts as I know them.

    The Law, like engineering is about rules. But engineering has rules that are made by God and not Man.

    What we have since Davide is a Govt of Men not of laws.

    Acquiescence to tyranny and injustice is the most creative wellspring of rationalization.

    I’ve never been a supporter of Erap mind you, having been an early critic and detester of him and his ilk.

    But the majesty of the Law has been and is being broken by the inability of society to bring justice where a despicable character like him has been treated unjustly, along with the millions who voted for him and were NOT at Edsa nor agreed with his overthrow.

    We can never be a great nation, unless we learn to uphold the Law and not make excuses when we are wrong.

    TIME magazine saw this very clearly in what happened. That is why they called Edsa 2 Mob Rule.

    I call it Mobocracy.

    • inodoro ni emilie on June 27, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    applause, applause for djb.

    not only time but also new york times.

    • Jeg on June 27, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    There must be a doctors certification, a majority of the cabinet must agree with the certification, and various other requirements to make sure it is not a false claim.

    Got it. So permanent disability refers to a medical disability (whether physical or mental). The loss of command and control of the whole country doesnt qualify. Thanks, DJB.

    • Jon Mariano on June 27, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Of course Davide’s and Gloria Arroyo’s answer to DJB’s argument is silence. So far that answer has never been questioned and seemed to appease more people than the likes of DJB.

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Jon,

    Silence is the sound of acquiescence. It’s like what happened after Marcos declared martial law too. The Silence of the Lambs.

    And of course we never actually got rid of that bum Erap did we? We peed in our own soup and now we lie to ourselves about how good it really is.

    Erap is the fly in the ointment of our consuelo de bobo called Edsa 2: our utter failure to uphold the Law.

    • mlq3 on June 27, 2007 at 3:18 pm
      Author

    re: the bencard-djb debate. just to weigh in with my view.

    the public has a right to overthrow its own government; but the government has the right to defend itself; if the government wins, people get imprisoned; if the rebels win, those in the government end up out of power and either lined up against a wall, exiled, or out of a job.

    the public, or any part of it, has the right to go to the streets, make noise, hoot, or sign petitions for the redress of grievances, just as it can go to court; what the public does influences those in authority, to bow to public opinion, or resist it.

    in 1972, president marcos took the powers given him by law, but reinterpreted them; he succeeded. in 1986, the public went to the streets, overthrew marcos, and after a period of debate, the new government proclaimed itself a revolutionary government and tore up the old rules, to an extent that went beyond marcos’ tearing up of the rules in 1972.

    in 2001, a limited goal -booting estrada out of office, constitutionally, through impeachment- failed to be achieved, and the public went to the streets.

    fewer than in 86? yes. but in any situation where the public or a portion takes matters into its own hands, what matters isn’t just the number on the streets, but those who don’t bother. no revolution, or uprising, ever began with a majority, it always began with a minority, and in many cases, was successful with only a minority participating in the tipping point.

    i do think that what messed the whole thing up was that events didn’t lead to their logical conclusion. that conclusion would have been a revolutionary government: the 1987 constitutional order had failed; it was rejected; something new would have to take its place.

    but that wasn’t a risk the national leadership was prepared to face. so, a revolutionary situation had to be channeled along constitutional lines, but an uprising is by its very nature a rejection of established processes.

    i don’t think the majority of those out on the streets would have been disappointed by a revolutionary government; i don’t think those who stayed home would have defied a revolutionary government; such a government would also have made the circumstances surrounding estrada’s fleeing the palace a fait accompli and all challenges to the government that replaced him moot and academic. by its very nature, a revolutionary government in power ratifies the circumstances that led to its rise to power.

    but retain the old order, and a fallen chief executive has every means -and every right- to challenge the new incumbent, and instead of achieving closure, here we are, six years later, still debating whether what took place was valid, or not.

    • mlq3 on June 27, 2007 at 3:35 pm
      Author

    oh, and of course, the signal service then executive secretary angara provided estrada, for which i blame neither of them (it was his duty to serve his boss, including his boss’s legal prospects, estrada could have chosen to throw in the towel or live to fight another day): advising estrada never to sign a letter of resignation and estrada deciding not to tie things up neatly by submitting such a letter, only a statement that was ambiguous. and add to that the impatience of the vice-president to let estrada stew and thus see he should sign a letter, and the decision of other leaders to go along with the arroyo solution rather than wait and see if the those who marched on the palace would take that action to its own logical conclusion.

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    mlq3,
    I shall take a different tack now since I know you are a lover of movies and literature.

    You know how when we were kids we just hated those kind of movies where the bad guys seemed to win and bad things always happened to the good guys?

    I think what happened here is the opposite. The good guys did seem to win, but actually it was the bad guys that did, because they deprived the People themselves of doing what you claim they did: which was to have their fill of Erap and by 2004 to have firmly rejected him in a democratic election.

    Revolution sure, overthrow bad leaders yes. But that was not really necessary in Erap’s case, was it? To compare him to Marcos in evil is really too much. If he plundered anything, he plundered Chavit’s money. But he was no dictator or autocrat that deserved like bath water to be thrown out with the Baby constitution.

    This argument about whoever wins is right is beginning to identify itself to me as the old fallacy that Might is Right. It is the same justification the CPP-NPA would use if they ever come to power. Or another Marcos.

    If we are going to make revolution every time an Erap type guy gets elected, then we are indeed condemned to a rotten, strife-begotten country of vendetta and intrigue.

    We could easily have survived another three years of Erap, just as we survive and learn from by catharsis those movies where the bad guys only SEEM to win.

    Edsa was faithless exercise by a judicial putschist who has put us on the road to perdition. We cannot be rescued from it if we insist that it is the way to freedom and not greater and greater chaos.

    Of course people have a right to make revolution, but applying it to Edsa Dos seems to demean the memory of our heroes for whom revolution was serious thing reserved for the worst of tyrants. Anyone less must be handled constitutionally.

    Else, what do we need a Constitution for, if we are not prepared to defend it and would surrender it to every “revolutionary” that shows up on their way to the Palace or Geneva??

  3. “We can never be a great nation, unless we learn to uphold the Law and not make excuses when we are wrong.”

    DJB,
    I like the way you say it and in the context you used it, I am in agreement.

    I just wonder: would you hold this to be true including on acts of so called “extrajudicial killings”?

    Btw, I can’t get in your blog. Did you ban me?

    • Jeg on June 27, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    There’s still the problem of ‘What do we do about it?’. How do we correct the mess? Do we free Erap on a technicality, then re-file the plunder case and have a trial all over again? What kind of damages is Erap entitled to seeing that he still had a few years left on his presidency but his term has now expired through no fault of his own?

    • mlq3 on June 27, 2007 at 4:02 pm
      Author

    djb,

    we can say a lot of things in hindsight. and time can make us forget just how excited things seemed at the time (and how inevitably, much of anything that excites people can end up looking superficial in retrospect).

    the middle class, at least, was convinced estrada was running the country into the ground, big business became convinced of it, too: and he had enough of a mean streak and not enough judgment to leave well enough alone. the painful lesson for the masses is that they could bring a leader to power, but not keep him in power; the middle and upper-classes exercised a veto that couldn’t be overturned, not even in the streets with edsa tres, not least because those they looked to for leadership wouldn’t lead them once they went to the barricades and stormed the palace itself.

    but neither could the middle and upper classes win a total victory; nor could they, it seems, achieve victory (in 2004 and 2007) in a manner that satisfies both mass and middle class standards for electoral victory and thus, legitimacy.

    what’s check-mated middle class moralism after estrada’s fall, is that it’s essentially superficial: many, many sins are forgiveable if done behind closed doors; estrada wouldn’t even accept that, he had to go; another president does the same, maybe more, maybe much worse, but looks, acts, speaks, according to middle and upper class conventions, keeps her hands off the big players, restricts thuggery to those who don’t belong, thus, patience turns out to be infinite. and the masses just stop believing anyone, and decide they might as well line up for patronage, but stop asserting the real power of their numbers. except through elections.

    the irony -but the genius of democracy- is, that it ends up evened out, anyway. not in 2004 but more so, in 2007: no one can deny the administration’s disliked; no one had to take to the streets, they just had to cast their votes, and the long and short of it is, there may be better prospects for everything finally resulting in a fresh start come 2010. maybe.

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Ricelander, Ban you from my blog? How could I even do that? WHY would I want to do that? I’m not Sassy the Lawyer you know! What happens when you try to visit Philippine Commentary any way? There’s been down time at blogger maybe?

    • DJB on June 27, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    OK mlq3 you have the last word on this one, for now. At least you seem to admit tacitly that edsa 2 was an elitist coup. Yes, and democracy can survive even that coup, as long as people see it for what it is, and don’t do it again.

    Which brings us back to Reynato Puno and the present. We must all decide to defend the Constitution (not just Article 5(5) okey?) or else we are condemned to repeat the past.

    We must never, ever again be hoodwinked by a guy in a Black Robe pretending to be Justice when they really represent Moral Chaos!

    • justice league on June 27, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    DJB,

    “the constitution is very specific in the case of permanent disability. There must be a doctors certification, a majority of the cabinet must agree with the certification, and various other requirements to make sure it is not a false claim.”

    I don’t think you would make such claims without backing from the Constitution.

    But right now, I need to read specifically the provisions in the Charter that you are culling this from.

    • justice league on June 27, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    DJB,

    To clarify; can you please give the Article/s and section/s concerned?

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