Cabinet wars

While there have been depressing text messages and other scuttlebutt, the arguments will be joined at the Supreme Court soon enough. There are eight questions propounded by the Justices:

1. Whether petitioners Sigaw ng Bayan, through lawyer Raul Lambino, and ULAP, through Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado, are the proper parties to file the petition in behalf of the more than six-million voters they say signed the proposal to amend the Constitution;

2. Whether the petition for a people’s initiative filed before the Comelec complied with Section 2, Article 17 of the Constitution;

3. Whether the Supreme Court’s decision in Santiago v. Comelec in 1997 bars the present petition;

4. Whether the court should re-examine the ruling in Santiago v. Comelec that there exists no enabling law allowing a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution;

5. Whether, assuming that Republic Act 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act is sufficient, the petition for initiative filed with the Comelec complied with the law’s provisions;

6. Whether proposed changes constitute an amendment or revision of the Constitution;

7. Whether the exercise of a people’s initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution is a political question to be determined by the people, and;

8. Whether the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petitions for initiative filed before it.

Question 7, seems to me, the booby trap. Last night talking to a colleague and some friends in law school, I asked whether the Supreme Court’s ducking certain controversies, on the basis that they’re “political questions” was still permitted. They explained the applicability had been narrowed, but the argument could still be used.

Read Chief Justice Panganiban’s thoughts on “political question” issues:

But what in the first place is a “political question?” Tanada v. Cuenco spelled out its classic definition as follows:

“The term political question connotes in legal parlance, what it means in ordinary parlance, namely, a question of policy. In other words, in the language of Corpus Juris Secundum, it refers to those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of government. It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure.”

As to source, there are two types of political questions: (1) those that are decided directly by the people themselves like the wisdom of electing movie stars, media practitioners and sports personalities; and (2) those delegated to Congress and the Presidency, like the wisdom of enacting more tax laws, or of pardoning certain convicts.

With the activist mandate firmly imbedded in the Constitution, is the “political question” principle no longer an available defense at present? Are the courts required to pass upon each and every act of the political branches of government?

To be sure, the answer to this question has defied a precise universal answer. Constitutional scholars depending on their orientation and philosophical moorings cite an equal number of cases, both recent and old, in which our Supreme Court has either acceded or refused to entertain political disputes.

Anyway, the latest update to the official timetable has been revealed: Charter plebiscite by January 2007 -De Venecia.

On to other news…

As far as I’m concerned, this official statement takes the cake:

The President’s appointments to key Cabinet and military posts are based on merit and fitness and must not be whimsically treated in this manner by the legislature.

The Chief Executive is responsible for executing the laws of the land and must not be unduly hampered in the selection of her subalterns who are supposed to implement her programs of governance.

Secretary Gonzalez and General Esperon have shown solid performance and courage from Day One in their respective offices.

Let us not allow personal or partisan reasons to prevent able and competent people from serving the people.

Both enjoy the confidence of the President and no amount of black propaganda and character assassination will prod her to drop their appointments.

Must? Must!? In a system with the separation of powers? And in the face of congressional disapproval she will insist on her appointments? And no one wonders how a president can go against 12 administrations’ precedents and the very idea of the executive having to submit its appointees to congressional scrutiny and possibly, rejection? And you still doubt we have authoritarianism waiting in the wings? No democratically-minded president, ever, would have permitted such a statement.

Anyway, the statement is in response to recent developments at the Commission on Appointments (and note that ours is unusual in that it’s bicameral; usually appointments are only vetted by the upper house). The CA has postponed a decision on the Justice Secretary’s confirmation; the promotion and appointment of Gen. Esperon is proving thorny or slowly coming to fruition, depending on your point of view.

Scuttlebutt for some time has been the political ping pong going on between Mike Defensor -and everyone else, it seems, in the cabinet, but headed by the Executive Secretary.

Well, it’s scuttlebutt no more. The contempt is obvious:

Asked to comment on the supposedly emerging slate, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita bluntly said: “There’s none.”

He added that he had no plans either to run for the Senate.

Asked why, he replied: “Because I don’t like (to), Mike (Defensor) is just inventing that. We haven’t even talked.”

“No one has talked to me, nobody. We don’t even talk about that in Malacañang,” Ermita said. “Not even” in the administration Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, of which he is an official.

So what’s the fallout? Is this a Punch and Judy act? Is Mike the designated liar, and Ermita the designated clarifier? My hunch is this: Defensor is a more reliable guide to the President’s thinking, and Ermita, to the rest of officialdom.

But the President’s woes -infighting in this case- don’t end there. Financial Executives are upset with the President’s repealing the Estrada-era limits on government loans; as a result, the Palace has had to make soothing noises about there being no new behest loans.

In the punditocracy, the Business Mirror editorial warns about the strengthening peso (isn’t the Central Bank intervening in the market to prevent overheating?). The Inquirer editorial comments on the Supreme Court’s intervening in the Senate-PCGG fracas.

I have to agree, for once, with Tony Abaya’s analysis:

There are lessons to be learned here by both the government and the opposition among our own urban middle class. A military coup d’ etat would also gain support from the middle-class here if a) politicians were excluded from its list of interim leaders; b) an anticorruption commission is immediately installed to investigate allegations of corruption at the highest levels; c) democratic political rights are temporarily shelved; but d) the military promises to return to the barracks in two weeks; e) a new constitution will be drafted; and f) elections are scheduled in the near future.

Our middle-class would most likely also want to see the communist movement excluded from the nw government. This is not mentioned in the Thai laundry list of reforms because there is no more communist insurgency left in Thailand. The coup leader, Gen. Boonyaratglin, who is said to be a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, cut his military teeth battling and defeating the communist insurgents in Thailand.

But the most important lesson to be learned from the latest Thai coup is that the parliamentary system does not immunize a sitting government from being overthrown by a military coup, contrary to the naíve claims of its champions.

So if the parliamentary system cannot dismantle political dynasties, cannot eliminate or even only reduce government corruption, cannot guarantee economic progress, cannot shield a sitting government against coups d’ etat and people power uprisings, why are we being stampeded into changing our Constitution in order to shift to it?

There seems to be only one answer: To allow Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to remain in power beyond 2010, either as prime minister in a Westminster-type parliament, or as president in a French parliamentary model. ChaChaCha!

Juan Mercado and Patricio Diaz both

On Thailand and Thaksin, Gwynne Dyer opines,

Democracy is fine as long as the voters elect the right people, but they often get it wrong. The Palestinians elected Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, so the Israelis and their allies overseas have to persuade them of the error of their ways with bombs, bullets and a financial blockade. And in Thailand they were going to vote for Thaksin Shinawatra again.

“They” were the rural poor, still a majority in Thailand, who have been left behind by the economic miracle of the past twenty years. They elected the billionaire Thaksin three times in a row because he gave them cheap health-care and put money in their pockets. The Bangkok middle class despised him for his populism and his corruption, but the poor were almost certainly going to elect him again - so for the first time in fifteen years, the Thai Army rolled its tanks into Bangkok.

So much for Thai democracy - and the bizarre thing is that the rest of the world doesn’t seem to care…

Thaksin was no advertisement for the wisdom of Thai voters. It was the poor and the ill-educated who voted for him, and he won their support with cynically populist policies. He launched a “war on drugs” that saw three thousand cases of extra-judicial execution – officially sanctioned murders, in other words. He took a needlessly hard line on discontent among Thailand’s Muslim minority, concentrated in the southernmost provinces, that turned disaffection into open insurrection. He even hid the first outbreak of bird flu in Thailand in an attempt to protect Thai poultry exports.

He gave cash presents to village headmen who could deliver the local vote. He appointed a large number of his own supporters to the Senate, and then used his majority there to appoint cronies to the higher courts. However, Thaksin Shinawatra also did things that improved the lot of the poor: A moratorium on farmer’s debts, dollar-a-visit medical care even for the impoverished northeast of Thailand, village improvement schemes that actually raised farmers’ incomes.

He was a liar and a crook, but a majority of Thais voted for him in election after election. And they would have voted for him again if the army hadn’t intervened.

The middle class people of Bangkok who have been demonstrating against Thaksin for the past six months are right: You really can’t run a country like this for very long and stay democratic. Either the demagogue consolidates his power and becomes a de facto dictator, or he is driven out by people who have (or claim to have) the interests of democracy at heart.

Ramesh Thakur makes a very interesting observation, by way of an introduction to an essay on military government:

During a conference in Bangkok in August, signs of a three-way tussle among Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his political opponents and the military were already evident. For example, a former army chief who remains influential as an adviser to the king made a point of wearing the uniform while addressing serving army officers and telling them that their primary loyalty was to the king and nation, not to the government of the day.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is disappointed in fellow democrats who have given in to the Thai coup. He says there were democratic alternatives (a news item says he will be leading protests in Bangkok tomorrow).

In France: Dominique Moisi dissects the leading candidates for the presidency. The Asahi Shinbun asks an editorial question: why hasn’t Tony Blair resigned yet? Most interesting of all, for those advocating the parliamentary system, is to understand the reasons behind Blair’s unpopularity -and unwillingness to budge:

Polls show that public support for Blair has plummeted to the 30-percent range. Furthermore, the Conservative Party led by a young David Cameron, who is only 39, has reversed the polls and got the jump on Labor.

With the next general election expected in 2009, it was inevitable that party opinion would demand a leader who can win.

To somehow make it through his party’s annual conference beginning Sunday, it seems Blair had to put his resignation card on the table even before the gathering got under way. Since he says he will hand over the party leadership before next year’s annual conference in the autumn, that inevitably means he will also stand down as prime minister. His loss of political clout will affect not just domestic policies but also his policies in the diplomatic arena.

Blair’s strength was his ability to explain political issues and ask for the public’s understanding in a clear-cut manner of talking. But lately it came to light that his government had manipulated public opinion by releasing information strategically so as to pursue the war against Iraq. For all his powers of eloquent speech and explanation, once public trust is gone then everything else falls apart.

Blair strengthened the prime minister’s office by increasing staff numbers and allocating more powers to them. That drew criticism and as a result, key decisions were made only by Blair or his close aides, which rendered his Cabinet meetings more or less meaningless.

And this is simply creepy: The eerie Weblogs of young murderers:

There is nothing like the World Wide Web for forging deep and meaningful bonds between anti-social outcasts. Whereas before the advent of the Internet, Kimveer Gill may well have lived out his days drinking whiskey and hating others in his parents’ basement, the Web site VampireFreaks.com afforded him the opportunity to reach out and touch thousands of other petulant misanthropes. “Can I go play with you?? I wanna go hunt down the preppies with you!!” wrote a 19-year-old Indiana member who called herself caranya in the comments section of Gill’s VampireFreaks page one day before the killings. Subsequent postings from visitors to caranya’s Web page aren’t kind: “Congratulations on inspiring a psycho to go on a murderous rampage killing innocent kids,” says one. “One has to wonder where he was able to get his moral support from,” mused someone else.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

55 thoughts on “Cabinet wars

  1. The argument that the Sigaw ng Bayan proposal is tantamount to REVISION of the Charter because it represents such a major change in the form of government and voting rights of the citizens — holds no water in my opinion.

    Consider the following simple facts of history:

    The First AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedoms of speech, freedom of religion, press, petition and assembly. (I think that’s pretty major!)

    The Second AMENDMENT is the right to bear arms.

    The Fourth AMENDMENT forbids illegal searches and seizures.

    The Fifth AMENDMENT is the right against self incrimination and to due process.

    Pretty major for MERE AMENDMENTS so far no?

    Heck, the first TEN AMENDMENTS of the U.S. Constitution are together called the BILL of RIGHTS.

    When they were ratified, THAT was not considered a REVISION, which is contemplated but has never been done to the US Constitution.

    Not even with the Eleventh Amendment…having to do with slavery…which really changed the voting rights of the people…di ba??

    All 27 AMENDMENTS are major in their own way.

    I think the Supreme Court will find for Sigaw in Question #6.

  2. There is one other legal document I can think of where the term ‘revised’ is used: The Revised Penal Code. That should give us an inkling of the precedent on what a revision is and what an amendment is, legally speaking. They didnt call it the Amended Penal Code.

  3. MB: There is nothing in the mere form of government that does not derive directly from the BILL OF RIGHTS. The reason they were the first 10 amendments was a realization that no matter what the form of government, it was all MEANINGLESS without the civil, political and human rights introduced by those mere amendments. The form of government is the mere mechanics of what is essentially the soul of democracy contained in the Bill of Rights. Mere amendments!

    Jeg,
    In the US there have been 200 plus revisions done, each of which produced a new version of the State Constitution. The US charter has never been revised, just amended 27 times. Under this terminology the Philippine Constitution has had 4 versions and 3 revisions: Malolos, Commonwealth, Marcos and Freedom Constitutions. And zero amendments.

  4. Come on, Kuya Manuel, appointing officials with questionable characters without going thru a vetting process and approval from the COA has worked well for her in the past.

    Palace firm on Barcelona,
    Garcillano reappointments

    Posted: 7:27 PM (Manila Time) | Jul. 06, 2004
    By Maila Ager and Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
    INQ7.net

    AMID criticisms, Malacañang stood pat on its decision to reappoint Virgilio Garcillano and Emanuel Barcelona as Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners.

    Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye pointed out on Tuesday that the appointments went through a thorough evaluation before they got President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s nod.

    “We will not go into legal details but I assumed that these appointments had been carefully screened,” Bunye said at a press briefing.

    The Palace expressed confidence that the officials would finally get the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

    Both Garcillao and Barcelona were first appointed to the Comelec in February but the CA did not confirm their appointments.

    But opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel immediately questioned the appointments, saying that it could be part of the President’s alleged “payment of political debt.”

    Pimentel had linked Garcillano to “special operations” in Mindanao where he allegedly “manipulated” election results to favor the President.

    Meanwhile, Pimentel said Barcelona’s independence was “under a cloud of doubt” because he claimed that the official was a campaign donor of Mrs. Arroyo when she ran for vice president in 1998.

    “What the Comelec needs are people with integrity, not those who are subservient to the appointing authority,” Pimentel said in a statement.

    The senator said the two officials did not deserve to be reappointed after their ad interim appointments lapsed on June 11 because of their alleged bias for the President in the last election.

    “The President missed an opportunity to repair the shattered image and credibility of the Commission on Elections by reappointing Commissioners Garcillano and Barcelona,” he said.

    “He (Pimentel) is entitled to his opinion but the President believes that the two gentlemen will be able to fulfill their functions,” Bunye said.

    Aside from the Comelec officials, Malacañang also issued ad interim appointments to Reynaldo Villar and Cesar Buenaflor as commissioners of the Commission on Audit and Civil Service Commission respectively.

    The President reappointed the two because the CA also failed to act on their appointments.

    See, you don’t need CA approval to work for Arroyo. What Arroyo wants, arroyo gets. And those two partisan COMELEC appointees did a good job in the last elections naman diba? Lol.

    Can you imagine, kung hindi lumabas ang “Hello Garci” tapes, malamang Commissioner Garci pa rin ang tawag natin at ni ComelecAko sa kanya.

    More from the PDI on Arroyo’s “recess appointments”:

    2 new Comelec commissioners
    ‘capable,’ says Palace
    Posted: 7:22 PM (Manila Time) | Feb. 11, 2004
    By Joel Francis Guinto and Veronica Uy
    INQ7.net

    (UPDATE) PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s two new appointees to the Commission on Elections have the “capability and potential” to ensure honest and peaceful elections in May and must be given a chance to perform their duties, government officials said Wednesday.

    “Nothing is uppermost in the President’s mind than the credibility of the May elections and she has selected two officials who have the capability and potential to contribute to that goal,” Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

    On Tuesday, Ms Macapagal named lawyers Manuel Barcelona Jr. and Virgilio Olivar-Garcillano to replace former Comelec commissioners Luzviminda Tancancgo and Ralph Lantion, who retired early this month.

    “Let us give them a chance to prove their worth and we are confident they will pass the test of public duty,” Bunye said, adding it was unfair to pre-judge the appointees.

    Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos shared Bunye’s position amid the negative reactions over the appointments of Barcelona and Garcillano.

    Abalos singled out Garcillano who he said was a “graduate” of the Comelec.

    “With his experience, what more can you ask for? The accusations against him are unfair because he has not been charged,” Abalos said.

    Senator Aquilino Pimentel had described Garcillano as a “Comelec operator” who was allegedly responsible for the vote shaving scheme in Mindanao where the senator claimed he was a victim, robbing him of a Senate seat in the 1995 elections.

    But Garcillano on Wednesday denied Pimentel’s allegations.

    “I don’t do that. I already asked (him through an intercessor) to sit down with me. I think (his accusations) are just a carryover from the past. He is a respected legal jurist.

    “I’m sure he knows that the removal of names from the list of voters is not an administrative function of the (Commission on Elections) but a judicial function of the courts. I know the senator is a reasonable man,” said Garcillano who called on Abalos a day after his appointment.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Pimentel said the opposition bloc would ask the President to justify her appointments that were made while Congress was on recess.

    Under the Constitution, Pimentel said Garcillano and Barcelona should go through the Commission on Appointments.

    Abalos defended the appointments, saying, “There was only a vacancy on February 2. You must give the President a chance to screen the applicants.

    “I doubt if Congress would still have time to act on his appointment.And even if they bypass his appointment, the President can still appoint them again.”

    Sounds familiar?

  5. But the thing is, there is really no difference between an amendment and a revision except in the minds of the framers of our constitution which the SC then has to determine and could go either way. If we are to use the Revised Penal Code as an example, it was called that because it is a codification of the penal code plus the amendments to it, that is, the amendments caused the code to be revised to its present form. Therefore, an amendment is an addition, or an enrichment, or a clarification, while a revision is a, well, revision–a rewrite. Changing the form of government from bicameral/presidential to parliamentary is not an addition, enrichment, or clarification, so it is not an amendment, but a revision. But again, it’s up to the SC how theyll interpret it. Let me just state an obvious fact: that part of the constitution on constitutional change sucks. They should have given it to DJB for editing. 😀

    (By the way, DJB, not to be persnickety, but the Freedom Constitution of ’86 was the provisional revolutionary constitution, then after that was the ’87 Constitution we have now. So we had 5 constitutions.)

  6. Come on, Kuya Manuel, appointing officials with questionable characters without going thru a vetting process and approval from the COA has worked well for her in the past.

    Palace firm on Barcelona,
    Garcillano reappointments

    Posted: 7:27 PM (Manila Time) | Jul. 06, 2004
    By Maila Ager and Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
    INQ7.net

    AMID criticisms, Malacañang stood pat on its decision to reappoint Virgilio Garcillano and Emanuel Barcelona as Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners.

    Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye pointed out on Tuesday that the appointments went through a thorough evaluation before they got President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s nod.

    “We will not go into legal details but I assumed that these appointments had been carefully screened,” Bunye said at a press briefing.

    The Palace expressed confidence that the officials would finally get the confirmation of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

    Both Garcillao and Barcelona were first appointed to the Comelec in February but the CA did not confirm their appointments.

    But opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel immediately questioned the appointments, saying that it could be part of the President’s alleged “payment of political debt.”

    Pimentel had linked Garcillano to “special operations” in Mindanao where he allegedly “manipulated” election results to favor the President.

    Meanwhile, Pimentel said Barcelona’s independence was “under a cloud of doubt” because he claimed that the official was a campaign donor of Mrs. Arroyo when she ran for vice president in 1998.

    “What the Comelec needs are people with integrity, not those who are subservient to the appointing authority,” Pimentel said in a statement.

    The senator said the two officials did not deserve to be reappointed after their ad interim appointments lapsed on June 11 because of their alleged bias for the President in the last election.

    “The President missed an opportunity to repair the shattered image and credibility of the Commission on Elections by reappointing Commissioners Garcillano and Barcelona,” he said.

    “He (Pimentel) is entitled to his opinion but the President believes that the two gentlemen will be able to fulfill their functions,” Bunye said.

    See, you don’t need CA approval to work for Arroyo. What Arroyo wants, arroyo gets. And those two partisan COMELEC appointees did a good job in the last elections naman diba? Lol.

    Can you imagine, kung hindi lumabas ang “Hello Garci” tapes, malamang Commissioner Garci pa rin ang tawag natin at ni ComelecAko sa kanya.

    More from the PDI on Arroyo’s “recess appointments”:

    2 new Comelec commissioners
    ‘capable,’ says Palace
    Posted: 7:22 PM (Manila Time) | Feb. 11, 2004
    By Joel Francis Guinto and Veronica Uy
    INQ7.net

    (UPDATE) PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s two new appointees to the Commission on Elections have the “capability and potential” to ensure honest and peaceful elections in May and must be given a chance to perform their duties, government officials said Wednesday.

    “Nothing is uppermost in the President’s mind than the credibility of the May elections and she has selected two officials who have the capability and potential to contribute to that goal,” Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

    On Tuesday, Ms Macapagal named lawyers Manuel Barcelona Jr. and Virgilio Olivar-Garcillano to replace former Comelec commissioners Luzviminda Tancancgo and Ralph Lantion, who retired early this month.

    “Let us give them a chance to prove their worth and we are confident they will pass the test of public duty,” Bunye said, adding it was unfair to pre-judge the appointees.

    Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos shared Bunye’s position amid the negative reactions over the appointments of Barcelona and Garcillano.

    Abalos singled out Garcillano who he said was a “graduate” of the Comelec.

    “With his experience, what more can you ask for? The accusations against him are unfair because he has not been charged,” Abalos said.

    Senator Aquilino Pimentel had described Garcillano as a “Comelec operator” who was allegedly responsible for the vote shaving scheme in Mindanao where the senator claimed he was a victim, robbing him of a Senate seat in the 1995 elections.

    But Garcillano on Wednesday denied Pimentel’s allegations.

    “I don’t do that. I already asked (him through an intercessor) to sit down with me. I think (his accusations) are just a carryover from the past. He is a respected legal jurist.

    “I’m sure he knows that the removal of names from the list of voters is not an administrative function of the (Commission on Elections) but a judicial function of the courts. I know the senator is a reasonable man,” said Garcillano who called on Abalos a day after his appointment.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Pimentel said the opposition bloc would ask the President to justify her appointments that were made while Congress was on recess.

    Under the Constitution, Pimentel said Garcillano and Barcelona should go through the Commission on Appointments.

    Abalos defended the appointments, saying, “There was only a vacancy on February 2. You must give the President a chance to screen the applicants.

    “I doubt if Congress would still have time to act on his appointment.And even if they bypass his appointment, the President can still appoint them again.”

    Sounds familiar?

  7. The enemy of Gloria and her Legions are Gloria and her Legions! In the end, they will all desintigrate; and it will all be because of themselves.

  8. What I like to be amended is the immunity from suit and to strangethen accountability. I would also like the impeachment to be easier.

    Nachura during his term as congressman, filed a resolution to make an enabling law regarding the PI. If he believed that there indeed was lack of an enabling law back then, wouldn’t be funny now to change one’s mind? This administration has been railroading and cutting corners since day one, what more if we shift to a parliamentary system? Just imagine the powers that the administration would wield.

  9. What I can’t understand is that why the Congress, who is also pushing for this charter change, didn’t just attempted to pass the required “enabling law” instead of going through this legal process of determining who is right and what should be done.

  10. Mlq3,

    Re: promotion of Esperon to 4 star rank (general): This is where your remark “Bastusan na talaga!” comes in.

    Maybe that’s why Gloria promoted Esperon to full-pledged general rank even with his lt general rank still unconfirmed without because there’s war: cabinet wars.

    Well, what do you expect from the commander-in-shit of the bastusan republic.

  11. Oops: Maybe that’s why Gloria promoted Esperon to full-pledged general rank even with his lt general rank still unconfirmed because there’s war: cabinet wars.

  12. can we really use PI being used to change our form of government?

    akala ko ba people’s initiative is only used for amendments?

    if we allow gay marriage in our consti, amendment yan diba? kahit na malaking bagay yan.

    o kaya if we amend the consti require only catholics to run for public office. “malaking” bagay rin yan. pero amendment lang ito, IMO.

  13. okay, sa US, people’s initiative rin.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initiative

    Here’s how they used P.I. sa states.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy_(history_in_the_United_States)

  14. Under Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, it says that ‘No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.

    However, in the proposed people’s initiative amendments , there is a transitory provision which states that:

    Within forty-five days from ratification of these amendments, the interim Parliament shall convene to propose amendments to, or of revisions of, this Constitution consistent with the principles of local autonomy, decentralization and a strong bureaucracy.

    The above provision in the Sigaw ng Bayan proposed ammendment circumvents the limitation specified under Section 2. The Amendments to be made by the Interim Parliament are triggered by the amendment proposed under the People’s initiative which is itself not authorized to make such amendments with such frequency. Doesn’t that contradict the letter, if not the spirit of Section 2?

  15. Just heard over the news where JdV a.k.a. HARI NG TRAPO, says that they have Plan B if the Cha-Cha is shut down in the Supreme Court. According to HARI NG TRAPO, he has 193 signatures to convert Congress into a Constituent Assembly!

    Such a DESPERATE move and so detached from reality!!! A perfect example of why we should NOT have a parliamentary system! We just have to look at the 193 congressmen who will vote for “yes” even though the country or their costituents are against it! It’s game over if this pushes through.

    BATUHIN si JdV at ang mga 193 TONGRESSMEN!

  16. Mlq3,

    Defensor must have read your article suggesting a referendum on Erap.

    Hahah! The larest Inquirer says that Defensor is eyeing freezing Estrada’s assets!

    “Freeze of Estrada assets eyed
    By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
    Inquirer, Last updated 11:28pm (Mla time) 09/26/2006

    “MALACAÑANG is mulling the possibility of freezing the assets of former president Joseph Estrada to prevent him from further financing destabilization attempts against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”

    Boy oh boy, Malacanang is in panic mode! They are effing scared of Erap!

    You didn’t do Erap any favor there, Mlq3! Hahahah!

  17. hindi kaya palabas lang ang mangyayari sa SC? bakit 25 minutes lang ang alloted time? a major debate that will change the future of the phillipines certainly needs a thorough scrutiny, 25 minutes is definitely not enough to discuss important issues, unless they already have their votes prior to the debate.

  18. CVJ,

    It just means that you can’t hold a plebiscite on the issue of a people’s Initiative oftener than 5 years. Like wise for a CONASS.

    In this case, they intend to utilize both in a short time w/c per se is not unconstitutional.

  19. TBL,

    The 25 minutes is for the protaganists to air their side as is.
    If the justices have questions, the time used for that is not included. But still it is short.

  20. Justice League, thanks for the explanation, but if the 5 year limitation was also applicable to Section 1 (i.e. ConAss or Constitutional Convention), why is that particular sentence wedged right in the middle of Section 2? In any case, if the point is to limit the proposal of amendments made via PI to once every five years, isn’t the requirement embedded within Sigaw’s proposed amendment that the legislative body come up with additional amendments within 45 days inconsistent with this limitation? It’s like when a Genie offers you to make three wishes and then you reply by saying that one of your three wishes is to be able to make 30 more wishes.

  21. Amendment is defined as changing, revising, altering, modernizations or replacing a document, a statute or a constitution as the process of improving. So why the debate if it is an amendment, a revision or a replacement?

    The whole Constitutional Act of 1982 (The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) is a whole document by itself. It replaces the Bill of Rights, which was a Federal Statute of l960, because at that time the Canadian Constitutions, the BNA act was not yet repatriated and cannot be amended without the British Parliament Approval. Whereas a statute can be easily amended, while a constitution needs a lot of debate, and sometimes a national referendum and agreements between the autonomous Provincial and Territorial Governments, the Government of that period lead by Pierre Trudeau, decided to repatriate the Constitution amend it. If you look at it, it was a total importation of the Bill of Rights into the whole Act, with a lot of improvement of every single provision. And today it is known as the Canadian Constitution. All of rights and freedom.

    As DJB argued up, the U.S. constitution has 27 improvements or revision of addition and they are all called amemndments. Ours was in essence a Bill of Rights and Freedoms and we call the whole document an Amendment. So why waste so much time arguing whether it is an amendment, revision, replacement, addition, or improvement. Why not simply call it amendments and proceed with improving the documents.

  22. Revision, Amendment, whatever. We all know what this charter change is about. We know what gloria is up to. The real question is how will the masa react if or when gloria gets her way again?

    Will those who oppose a coup to take her down turn? Will the military turn? Pundits will surely cry foul, but what good will that do? We’ve been crying foul ever since “I am sorry.”

    Sounds really hopeless. Well maybe not. Gloria has been showing signs of madness. She claims to have spoken to God! She is near self destruction.

  23. DEFINITIONS: A REVISION results in a new Constitution (and a new Republic). An AMENDMENT is something that is attached to the old Constitution, which remains in force with the old Republic.

    ON THE POLITICAL QUESTION: It is widely recognized in all jurisdictions that there exist certain issues that a Supreme Court cannot actually decide or rule upon. Such “nonjusticiable cases” arise because of the separation of powers, and in my opinion, because Supreme Courts are COTERMINOUS with Constitutions. In other words, when one Constitution is REPLACED by a new Constitution, all the INSTITUTIONS that were created and have legitimacy under the old Constitution also disappear.

    Thus in cases of CHACHA, such as the Martial Law Plebiscite and Ratification cases in the early 70s, the OLD Supreme Court could not rule on the validity of such processes without BECOMING the NEW Supreme Court and thus making the original issues MOOT and ACADEMIC. It cannot uphold its own existence and legitimacy without doing the same for the new dispensation.

    Why is any of this important now?

    I think Questions #6 and #7 come one after another for a logical reason.

    IF the people’s initiative to go Unicameral Parliamentary is an AMENDMENT (and therefore Constitutional under Section 2 Art. 17) then the 1987 Constitution will remain in force with a First Amendment attached to it, assuming it is approved on plebiscite. But since the Supreme Court is coterminous with the Constitution, IF the PI is a mere amendment, the Court CANNOT avoid ruling on Constitutional issues and cases that arise around it on the basis that it is a political question.

    IF, however, the PI is a REVISION, then by definition there will be created a new Constitution, the Supreme Court disappears, and all sorts of “political questions” can arise that the Court is forced to avoid.

    Methinks Panganiban may have set a booby trap for himself.

  24. So, DJB, the definition of ‘revision,’ when it comes to the Constitution, is different from ‘revision’ when it applies to a specific law like the aforementioned Revised Penal Code? Methinks that shouldnt be the case. ‘Revision’ is a legal term that applies to all laws. The revision of the Penal Code did not result in a new Penal Code. It is simply a rewriting of the old Penal Code plus the amendments to it. Ergo, it is possible to revise the Constitution without creating a new one since our Constitution allows for a change in the form of government via PI or whatever means.

    From vic: So why the debate if it is an amendment, a revision or a replacement?
    Because, vic, I suspect that unlike the Canadian constitution (which I havent read, btw), our Constitution is vague about what constitutes a revision or an amendment. If one were to go by the dictionary, there is indeed no difference between the 2, but this is no longer the dictionary definition that is being debated, but the legal definition.

    (BTW, Im not a lawyer, so lawyers, please feel free to shoot down my arguments. Id appreciate it.)

  25. Jeg, I think the straightforward reason why there is an amendment vs. revision debate is because the SC thought it worthwhile to bring the matter up themselves. Maybe one of the possible answers is that there is really no difference between the two and that the presence of the two terms is just one more example of the framers’ verbosity. It would have been a simple matter to directly ask the authors as to their intent, but under the rules, the Supreme Court is constrained to pretend as if the delegates to the 1987 Constitution are all dead.

  26. jeg, djb can confirm this, because his lolo headed the group, but “revised penal code” refers to the fact that pres. roxas commissioned the total rewriting of the penal code, which replaced the spanish-era penal code in use up to that point (or am thinking of the civil code?)

  27. I just browsed through the ‘Opposition-in-Intervention’ filed by One Voice. The distinction between amendment and revision is adequately covered there. Particularly interesting is the account of the interpellation involving Suarez and Aquino on pp 36-37, and the distinction made by Justice Makasiar in page 46. That means that my immediately preceding comment may have been mistaken.

  28. Thanks for that, MLQ3. So revision = rewriting, while amendment = addition/clarification? Now that I think about it, any rewriting will, in effect, result in a new constitution like DJB said. So the question now is whether changing the form of government in effect changes the constitution, i.e., a revision.

  29. i`m not a lawyer, too, but the way i look at it the real issue here is who will be in the cast of the new parliament and not whether PI is a mere amendment or a complete revision. that is why i think the very first question that the SC would like for them (both the anti and pro) to answer is:

    “1. Whether petitioners Sigaw ng Bayan, through lawyer Raul Lambino, and ULAP, through Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado, are the proper parties to file the petition in behalf of the more than six-million voters they say signed the proposal to amend the Constitution”

    as incumbent officials, will ULAP members benefit from the PI? if yes, then they are (i think) not the proper parties to file the petition because in pushing for PI they have their own interests to protect. as a member of the Constitutional Consultative Commission and later on as member of the Charter Change Advocacy Commission (AdCom) both created and funded by the Office of the President, does Raul Lambino carries with him the Sigaw ng Pangulo instead? (again, i think) he is not the proper person to represent the Sigaw ng Bayan because of his affiliation to the Office of the President. his being there only adds suspicion that indeed the PI is not a real “people`s initiative” but a “president`s initiative” after all

  30. Where two words exist, there is a difference. Revision connotes a major change, while amendment connotes a minor one. When you want a document to be overhauled, you say, “Please revise the whole thing>” If you want a minor change, you say, “Please amend it to say…”

    What Gloria wants is an overhaul of the Constitution. She wants to revise it in two stages:

    First, she wants the form of governement changed from presidential-bicameral to parliamentary-unicameral, with the transitory provisions on the side.

    Second, with the Interim Parliament and the transitory provisions in place, Gloria, through the Interim Parliament, will turn her sights on the economic provisions and everything else that will catch her fancy.

    I assure you, if all this came to pass, we would end up with an entirely new document. And you call it amendment?

  31. Guys:
    Let’s face it. The words revise and amend have many common meanings and usages. But the distinction between REVISION and AMENDMENT I am suggesting describes the actual experience and customary usage in the various histories of the individual United States. Somewhere (might be wikipedia) I read that over 200 NEW Constitutions have been adopted as REVISIONS of State constitutions, usually as a result of CONCONS, many of them periodically convened WITHOUT the need for special legislative or governmental actions, and thousands of amendments that DONT result in NEW constitutions. As for the US Constitution, there have been 27 Amendments and Zero Revisions.

    I am only suggesting that IF one adopts these definitions, mainly that REVISIONS produce NEW Constitutions while Amendments keep the OLD Constitution in place, there are very real implications for the INSTITUTIONS that come into or go out of existence with the OLD and NEW charters in the higly complex process we are debating about: CHARTER CHANGE.

    In particular, the POLITICAL QUESTION arises during periods or situations of charter change because remember that a Supreme Court is CREATED by Constitutions, whose validity and legitimacy and mode coming to be, not even the Supreme Court can conceivably question, right? Every Supreme Court is predated by a POLITICAL PROCESS that first establishes a political regime and instruments of governance that wield the power to establish the Constitution which then makes the existence of the Court possible. No Court could possibly consider cases or controversies in which there is a possibility it would rule its own existence unconstitutional. Thus the problem of adjudicating RATIFICATION cases. We must face the fact that every Supreme Court is EXTINGUISHED with the Constitution that creates and empowers it.

    That is why the DIFFERENCE between AMENDMENT and REVISION will turn out to be critical. Because IF REVISION creates a new Constitution, all sorts of political questions might come up.

    Fortunately, a PEOPLES INITIATIVE that obeys Section 2 Article XVII cannot precipitate a political question in this way, because the PI proposals are limited to AMENDMENTS only.

    Therefore the Court cannot AVOID ruling on the Constitutionality of the people’s initiative using the political question doctrine.

  32. MLQ3,
    Yup you are thinking about the Civil Code. But you also saved me the task of figuring out if “Revised Penal Code” fits with the interpretation I’ve given REVISION in the Constitutional arena. It does indeed! Because as you’ve pointed out, the REVISED Penal Code represents the Penal Code under a DIFFERENT political regime, namely the Republic that came into being on July 4, 1946 as a result of a plan laid in 1935.

    I am associating CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION with POLITICAL REGIME CHANGE. Anything less is a “mere amendment” (including such things as the abolition of slavery, women suffrage, and the entire Bill of Rights!) Also, IMHO, the shift to Unicameral Parliament would be an amendment under this rubric.

    I don’t necessarily agree that we should undertake such transgender surgery on ourselves via people’s initiative, but the proposal does not strike me as unconstitutional because it seeks a political regime change on the order of Spain-to-Malolos, colony-to-Commonwealth and Independence, freedom-to-dictatorship and back again.

    The shift to Unicameral Parliament strikes me instead as an evolutionary step back, like outlawing the walking on two legs, the use of two eyes, or two-handedness. Or Second Opinions. No more double checking. Or suddenly giving birth to a Neanderthal baby. Also has any example been found of a citizenry that willingly surrendered the power to vote directly for the national leaders?

  33. CVJ, JEG,

    There is definitely a difference between the two terms. I claim whenever the People undertake a Revision of their Constitution, all the branches of government and all the entities created by the old Constitution DIE at the moment of ratification, and must be REINCARNATED in the new, revised version of the Constitution.

    This distinction is particularly severe upon the Supreme Court since its job is to interpret the Constitution and adjudicate disputes that arise among the citizens and the government. Yet the Supreme Court is not above the law. It doesn’t even exist without the Law! And it cannot create and annihilate the law at will by fiat or reason. The Supreme Court can be KILLED by a Revision and it can’t do anything about it.

    Again, fortunately, only the Con-Ass or a Concon could do that, abolish the Supreme Court, I mean. Couldn’t it?

  34. We can quibble all we want about the difference between revision and amendment until we grow feathers. But in the context of Gloria’s Cha-Cha, we will end up with a revision. This is where Gloria’s duplicity is apparent. She is using “people’s initiative” to effect a change in the form of government (which to me is a major change and is therefore a revision, it having a wide-ranging effect on our political life) purportedly as an amendment. But PI is only a part of the whole scheme. The process it sets into motion would not stop if the SC decided favorably on Singaw’s petition. Once the interim Parliament is set up, Gloria and her allies can proceed to the main agenda. As far as Gloria and her cabal are concerned, Cha-cha is all about revision of the Constitution, not amendment.

    DJB, peoples under a parliamentary form of government have surrendered their right to vote directly for national leaders. And that’s the right Gkloria wants us to surrender.

  35. DJB, very interesting insight on the link between #6 and #7. Can you clarify precisely what you mean by ‘political regime change’? Also, if as you have described, we grant a distinction between ‘Amendment’ and ‘Revision’, I agree with Global Pinoy and Shaman that the Sigaw Proposal could still be considered as an ‘Amendment to Revise’.

  36. CVJ,

    I can only give a definition by way of examples:(1) The Malolos Republic was the original expression of a Filipino nation getting organized enough to have a Constitution, a Declaration of Independence, a flag, a song, an army and even a dictator (Aguinaldo). If the Americans had not arrived the First Philippine Republic might still be around. Indeed it IS, since we celebrated its Centennial already in 1898. That was political regime change #1 with the Spaniards getting booted out. The Malolos Constitution was REV-ZERO of the Constitution.

    Comes Uncle Sam, conquers the First Republic, turns us into a colony whose first governor general still masquerades as a grimy thoroughfare in Manila, but inexplicably establishes the Second Republic in 1935 and 1946 (it was complicated second regime change), occasioned by REV-ONE of the Constitution in the Commonwealth charter of 1935. MLQ-I was elected President.

    REV-TWO was the Marcos Martial Law Constitution, also a political regime change by coup d’etat, vouchsafed by a Constitution that occasioned the infamous case, Javellana vs. Executive Secretary where the whole Political Question thing got its most notorious application in the doctrine of political acquiescence.

    REV-THREE was 1987 and the restoration of democracy by Cory Aquino, again accompanied by a REVISED Constitution. This was the regime change occasioned by Edsa One.

    These are definite historical events with a singular thing in common: a new Constitution was adopted by the people along with the indicated political regime change.

    The overthrow of Estrada was done by a military-judicial coup d’etat, except Davide was too coy to actually precipitate a 2001 Davide Constitution. He should have. It would’ve been cleaner.

    Instead they’ve been wishing Erap would just croak, but you know the bad weeds, they just won’t oblige in that regard.

    But in a twisted way, you could think of JDVs Singaw ng Bayan as trying to produce a Constitution for Edsa Dos. If it does, we should count that too as an official historical political regime change.

    Of course, People’s Initiative cannot make a Revision of the Constitution. But CON-ASS can! And JDV’s lachrymose mien was on tv last night to proclaim their readiness with “PLAN B” — a revealing admission that HE is responsible for PLAN A.

  37. DJB, thanks for the explanation, i’m beginning to get the sense of your idea. I believe you’re right about the SnB-JDV Proposal being a Constitution for Edsa Dos. It derives its support from the oligarchs and the elitist elements of our society, the part that has been dragging us down. It must be repudiated.

  38. Show me just what this PI brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as the provision to rule forever and spread by the guns of Palparan et.al. the parliament that she preached

  39. artz,

    You saw: “there you will find things only evil and inhuman”

    Sigaw says their name is “Legion”, scary, huh.

    SC Justices shouldn’t just be angry. They should be scared. They should shut any openning of the Constitution from these creatures tightly and fortify it with a CLEAR & UNEQUIVOCAL DECISION, cite Sigaw, ULAP, COMELEC, SolGen Natsura with CONTEMPT for debauching the Court and the Constitution. Binababoy nila ang Saligang Batas, ginagago ang Korte at ang taombayan.

  40. DJB,

    “These are definite historical events with a singular thing in common: a new Constitution was adopted by the people along with the indicated political regime change.”

    In other words, Gloria’s Legion is ramming cha-cha into our throats to legitimize her regime.

    Gloria’s regime is trying desperately to blur the military-judicial coup of 2001.

    Thanks for clarifying, DJB.

  41. DJB,

    EDSA DOS was a CRIME, exposed more glaringly as such by its dire consequences. The defiant-guilty, power-possessed EDSA2 beneficiaries are obssessed to change the Law to cover up, if not absolve, the crime.

    Ex-CJ Davide’s “extra-constitutional remedy” separated the body (the government), when he swore GMA in as ‘acting’ President, from its soul (the Constitution) thereby creating a soul-less Frankestein-monster. The Elite-Trapo Cabal in power now wants to give it its soul, railroading the charter change to bring forth a Trapo-‘Legion’ Constitution.

    For the status quo , cha-cha is a political imperative.

    CVJ,

    Only an honest-to-goodness Revolution can repudiate the on-going on-slaught against out institutions specially our Constitution.

    btw, how repudiate the ‘Legion’?

  42. DJB,CVJ,Jeg,

    Questions re PI:

    1) Is the 5-yr bar on PI now in effect/in force?

    2) Can a PI-enabling law be a subject of PI? as ammendment or enactment via referendum? not dependent on/by-passing Congress to enable PI?

    3) Can proposals be consolidated in a single PI? is ‘sequential consolidation’ — enabling law + ammendment — legally tennable?

    4) If SC rules abiguously on PI in what ways could it be for it to ‘open a window of opportunity’ for an adjusted PI to get through?

  43. I am only suggesting that IF one adopts these definitions, mainly that REVISIONS produce NEW Constitutions while Amendments keep the OLD Constitution in place..By DJB

    I think the above suggestion of DJB is true in our case. We call our Charter of Rights and Freedoms an amendment( Constitution Acts of l982) because it is an addition to the l867 BNA act that was not repealed at all. Although it is now the basis for all the challenges and all new laws, provincially, federally and municipal by-laws be base upon, the old l867 is still the basis for treaty rights and others that are not covered in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Actually the moderm constitutions we have is just as one commenter above hrvds, stated, is a repository of Rights and Freedoms.

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