The possibility of the Supreme Court being dominated by Arroyo-appointees has been the subject of political discussions for several months now. And since then, I’ve been trying to look for someone to support though I know I don’t have a say as I am not even a lawyer nor a politician.

I still would like to support someone so as to provide the necessary antagonism as Gloria is expected to simply pick the one who can deliver the needed political vote for her continuous reign at the Palace. One of the most awaited political decisions (though an actual legal controversy and a case of merit are yet to happen) of the Supreme Court would be the procedures for a Con-Ass; Gloria’s preferred mode of charter change and one of the methods to prolong her hold to power.

With this, I’d prefer that the next SC Justice be very vocal of his view on how the Constitution provides Congress the power to amend the charter. And that is how I’ve been conducting some research on the issue.

Only recently, I’ve heard that CA Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid, in a session of grilling by the Judicial and Bar Council, said that, “The voting should be separate. In local legislation it is separate. Moreso in respect to charter change.”

That for me is courageous as he knows that it could spell the end of his aspiration for a seat in the high tribunal. And given the situation and the number of seats that would be vacant, that is, in my opinion, enough to support Justice Abdulwahid’s bid to the SC.

And as I research about him, I have read that other people and groups are supporting Abdulwahid. They have varied reasons though but it is the 10 Muslim Congressmen’s mention of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Accord that caught my interest. They cited that the said agreement provides that it shall be our national policy to have at least one SC Justice and at least two CA Justices from among the qualified jurists in ARMM. Further research informed me that the first and only Muslim appointed in the SC was Justice Abdulwahid Bidin back in 1987, Cory’s time.

Well, that’s their reason. And as I’m not a legal expert nor a lawmaker, I’d rather support him with a reason as simple as my opposition to the Gloria Forever Plan.

Advertisements

I am never a real believer of the Supreme Court. I have always seen the “justice” system as a state instrument of either sugar-coated repression or the spectacle of some justice.

I don’t deny though that there are some personalities that could make some institutions work for the people and their rights. I consider the current Chief Justice of the Philippines as one of them.

Despite being appointed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Chief Justice, Reynato Puno continually upheld the rights and welfare of the Filipino people in the context of how the current administration is curtailing it.

Two of the most controversial issues under the Arroyo administration are the spate of extra-judicial killings and involuntary disappearances, and the perpetual attempt to tinker with the Philippine Constitution.

Under Puno’s watch, the Supreme Court of the Philippines stripped state agents of the simplest defense of denial whenever they are being questioned regarding human rights violations through the Writ of Amparo which is very much similar to Latin American countries’ Habeas Data.

Though I maintain that this document is a mere paper, it is still commendable that the SC chose to issue such a promulgation. And even if Philippine Congress has yet to legislate laws against torture and enforced disappearances at the very least, victims of human rights violations are given a legal reference for their defense.

If you think that this Puno initiative made Gloria mad, Puno’s stance on Charter Change will make her a psychotic.

Due to the series of controversies hounding the administration, they have no choice but to hold onto power to hide under the skirt of executive immunity. And the only way to do it is through a charter change of his allies, through a constituent assembly with both houses of Congress lumped as one.

Given that the Upper Chamber, even with Enrile at the helm, is dominated by Arroyo’s political enemies, they have to ensure that the Supreme Court will allow the House of Representatives and the Senate to vote as one. They want to drown the votes of the few senators with the overwhelming number of congressmen, rendering the Senate votes negligible. With Puno at the top, the hope for the Supreme Court to concur to such an idea is less easy.

Though we know that the Supreme Court will be soon dominated by Arroyo’s allies this year after the retirement of a handful of justices, the mere fact that the Chief Justice is against the Constituent Assembly scheme would doom the Gloria Forever Constitution. Such a scenario may induce controversy similar to the Estrada impeachment drama that led to you-know-what.

I chose not to dwell on the Limkaichong case as a lot of people already wrote about it. I chose to write about something that will aid everyone to answer the title of this article.

Learning of the the Supreme Court decision on the Neri petition is like having a bad dream. It disturbs each and every rational citizen of this country to the fact that, due to this judicial document, any wrongdoing can now be concealed from the public in the name of “executive privilege.”

Well, though no one in his right mind would dare say that we really enjoy full democracy here in the Philippines, a lot of people still sees the Supreme Court as the last bastion of Philippine Democracy. This decision changed that.

What is executive privilege, anyway? It is not even indicated in our Constitution. It is only an assertion of a branch of government that is subject to interpretation of our courts. But now that the SC gives a blanket authority to the executive department to invoke such, anything can now be done under the cloak of it.

I must admit, though, that some senators may have abused their investigative powers to the point of power-tripping but it is not even mentioned in the decision. Truth be told, this decision made Executive Order 464 seem to advocate transparency. What’s there to hide between conversations between a president and her cabinet member about bribery? Is it because one of them is guilty of accepting bribes?

Now, refusing to use euphemism, this decision must be called a legal obstruction of justice. Forget about the people’s right to information. Forget about the principle of the government branches being co-equal to each other. Forget about everything.

The Supreme Court just gave Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a birthday gift, that the US Supreme Court refused to give to Nixon before. Expect more versions of the Watergate in our country.