Supreme Court

Happy New Year?

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opinyon-opinion

by Ronald Roy

SURPRISINGLY, the Filipino spirit has remained high after 2013 ended with record highs in crime, corrupt practices and natural calamities. Does this demonstrate that we are the most resilient people in the entire planet? Or does it portend a caveat from Mme. De Maintenon who said: “Hope says to us constantly, ‘Go on, go on’ and leads us to the grave”? Where has public outrage gone?!

Is it to our God-will-provide religiosity that this outstanding trait of Hope is ascribed, along with the oft-pontificated virtue of Forgiveness? Indeed, was it the spirit of Forgiveness, if not political posturing, that accounted for the recent visits to the ailing heinous-crime detainee Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by some high-profile clerical and political leaders?

Ang mga bumabagang balita, via the daily papers and radio-TV reportage, say it all and, by all indications, the ongoing upsurge of graft and criminality shall remain unabated. You cannot step out of your house without feeling you could get mugged, which is not to say that you feel fairly secure at home with nary a worry over a break-in or an “inside job” of sorts.

Yes, even your most trusted domestic helper is now suspect. Mainly because his pay is buying less, and he now has more to support in a growing family, period. And again, this is not to say that you are comfortable with the rigidities of the Kasambahay Law, the passage of which was most likely motivated by politicians’ ploy to curry favor with the vote-rich poor. You feel cheated, and rightly so.

Despotic QC Politicians

I live in New Manila, Quezon City and I share an utter outrage with my neighbors. New Manila might have been the “Forbes Park” of the 40s, 50s and 60s, but not anymore. It is not a “gated community”, and neither can it pretend to compare with any in those more affluent cities. Save perhaps for a sparse 15% handful in terms of social standing, the rest in New Manila are a mix of middle and lower middle-class families.

Even the richest amongst us are aghast at the “very injustice of it all” — a phrase often used in our coffee-shop tête-a-têtes. It’s even not a question of whether we’re rich or not, but whether we’re willing, symbolically speaking, to spend twenty pesos for one half-rotten medium-sized calamansi, or to be “taken for a ride”. What an outrageous rip-off!

The thing is: the city’s imposition of realty tax hikes was arbitrary. At its public hearings, the City Council ran roughshod over the hallowed guarantee of due process by totally ignoring the overwhelming well-argued opposition of residents. Three years ago, QC homeowners were imposed “social housing taxes” in order to help re-settle outsiders squatting on their lots. Today, the squatting families are still there, and the lot owners who cannot use their lots continue to bear increasing tax burdens thereon with no relief in sight. So, where has all the money gone?! Aha… there’s the rub! I don’t wish to give a cynical answer, except that—I have long considered QC officials to be corrupt. Until lately, they had their own pork barrel racket. Hmmm… maybe they still do. Anyway, “ghost employees”– two councilmen have pending cases which the courts are taking an eternity to terminate — “flying voters”, kickbacks and other anomalies are their bread and butter.

And to add to the residents’ discomforts, the service is bad. Cops are losing the war against robbers because the robbers are cops. Kickback schemes pave the way for roads and avenues being built so substandard that they undergo constant repairs. Prostitution and trafficking of prohibited drugs are on the rise. Ad nauseam! And the city continues to brag it’s the richest city in the country!!!
Oops, incidentally, there’s a new QC ordinance imposing on every homeowner a hefty garbage fee to fund the city’s—take a deep breath—reforestation program!! Huh?! Mayor Bautista, Hinde kami tanga!! Why could you not answer when asked to explain the program?! Hmmm…methinks what should take place soonest is an honest-to-goodness comprehensive audit of the financial records of the city government, as well those of QC Mayor Herbert Bautista, during all the long years he has been in office.

A New Year’s Bad Start

After the rambunctious celebration, we woke up to greet the dawn of a new year with resurgent hopes for good health, prosperity, peace, price rollbacks, diminished road rages and scams, and all that, but doggone it, we have had nothing but bad news since January 1!

Wreaking havoc is news that the newly constructed housing units for Supertyphoon Yolanda’s victims are overpriced, substandard and unlivable. Heartless and callous!! The role of rehab czar Ping Lacson here is merely coordinative, but we cannot discount his legendary savvy in the unique neutralization of felonious culprits in our jurisdiction. Go for it, Ping!

Explosive is a looming constitutional crisis between the Supreme Court and the Lower House which are headed on a collision course. With push coming to shove, the solons’ superior impeachment tool can however be blunted by the sovereign people and the Church coming together to support the Court, along with, if imperative, military backup.
***
(http://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy)

Moment of Truth

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opinyon-politics

By Ronald Roy

ALMOST exactly a year ago, I wrote a thesis on “judicial activism” in two parts. The first was titled Judicial Activism, dated Nov. 27, 2012, which underscored: “Indeed, unless something drastic is done, a denial of plaintiffs, the People of the Philippines (in the Ampatuan case) may unduly result (in the breach of) xxx the constitutional guarantee of a speedy delivery of justice—alas, a situation showing an unpardonable dearth of courage and innovation on the part of all officially connected with the operations within the criminal justice system (at the core of which is the Supreme Court.)”

Then came a month later Judicial Activism 2, dated Dec. 4, 2012, stressing that: “It is extremely gratifying to note that 6 out of 7 of this column’s readers favor my advocacy of judicial activism as an imperative answer to two legal enigmas, namely, one, in particular to quicken the pace of criminal trial of heinous crimes xxx and two, in general how to beat back the flames (of an incorrigibly corrupt pork barrel system) now rapidly engulfing the (executive and legislative departments).”

In connection with the foregoing, let me set aside P-Noy’s much-publicized management failures in Nur Misuari’s siege of Zamboanga and Super typhoon Yolanda’s massive destruction of lives and properties in Eastern Samar, Leyte and other parts of the Visayas, and instead focus on his presidential mien and mindset in the aftermath of the high court’s lopsided 14-0-1 thumbing down of PDAF as unconstitutional.

Well, he has managed to appear calm and cool as a cucumber in the face of the court’s subtle declaration that his patronage politics was over; but he has not, has he? Surely, not in the face of his revelation before media that he needs more money from Congress for the restoration of normalcy in calamity-ravaged Central Luzon. He must be fidgety these days, wondering how the solons can “come across”, given the Supreme Court’s radical shift to activism and tight watch on them, and given that not only their constituencies but the entire citizenry as well are closely keeping an eye on them.

How then can P-Noy, his Cabinet, the DBM in particular, and Congress perform their mandated roles without the needed funds? It’s obvious they do not deserve our sympathy because they have no one but themselves to blame. They had more than three years to prepare, and when the Zamboanga war, the 7.2 Bohol earthquake and “Yolanda” struck, they were caught flat-footed! And now, the high court is lowering the boom on the unconstitutional features of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)! Ayayay!!

Just think: on three previous occasions, the PDAF (then termed CDF for countryside development fund) was ruled constitutional, but only recently got booted out, thanks to the court’s new-found jugular activism! I really do not care if the nine so-called pro-GMA associate justices “crossed the line” just to get back at P-Noy. The fact is they’ve pushed him ( and his minions) up the wall for some hard reflection: “This is it, the moment of truth has come. DAP, an unauthorized invention by me Butch Abad and other boot-lickers, will surely be declared unconstitutional. There’s no way to escape. Should I now ‘do a Nixon’ with my dignity intact?”
However, this form of honorable exit is wishful thinking. P-Noy will never resign, much less apologize to his bosses, because he reckons it is he who is their boss — his imagined lofty status as an oligarch who “owns and controls” the country. No, he does not steal because hacienda Luisita alone makes him in his mind an enormously wealthy person.

Of course this is twisted thinking by him but, oh well, yes, I think it is if all this talk about his confinement abroad (when he was a kid) for a mental disorder is true. Honestly, I mean no derision and, if the rumor is true, I fervently pray he gets well…unless it’s too late…in which case we’re inextricably stuck in something like a quicksand beneath which lurks a snoring python!!

I take back my previous description of the Supreme Court as the weakest among the three supposedly co-equal and coordinate branches of government, it wielding merely the so-called “power ” of the pen, as against the mighty sword of the Office of the President and Congress’ awesome power of the purse. I was wrong. If at all, it is the Judiciary that is the mightiest among the three branches, since it is the final arbiter over questions of law.

Hence, It was but proper for the high court to put its foot down on what it has identified as a wantonly abusive behavior among executive and legislative officials within the pork barrel system. Thus, in the final analysis, it is the Supreme Court, not another agency or body in government, that is empowered to sustain a healthy democratic balance among the three branches within a structure operating under a Rule of Law.

With fingers crossed, we can now predict the rolling of executive and legislative heads with the high court’s pronouncement that DAP, otherwise known as presidential pork, is likewise unconstitutional. It may then be proclaimed that the high tribunal has proudly hurdled its moment of truth.

A Weakened Presidency

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By Elcid Benedicto

WHILE many perceive the ruling of the Supreme Court, declaring the lawmakers’ pork barrel funds as unconstitutional as a setback for senators and congressmen, what others fail to recognize is the more serious consequence of the decision: a weakened presidency.

The pork barrel scam which unraveled before the eyes of the public the ills behind the manner in which some lawmakers make use of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), it also paved for the disclosure of the fact that the pork barrel is often used as a tool by the President to wield influence among Congress members in deciding on certain crucial issues.

A case in point, was the Corona impeachment trial where allegedly, President Aquino, through his minions, swayed some senators to vote for the conviction of ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona in the 2012 proceedings and on the issues as well on the enactment of the reproductive health (RH) law and sin tax, supposedly.

Sans PDAF

What will become now of the senators sans the PDAF? Senate insiders said it has now rendered an impossible task for some “enterprising” senators and some of their well-trusted staff the matter of yielding “commissions” from their “soft” and “hard” projects.

“There’s no more scholarship programs for them or projects that they can identify themselves. That’s the practical and immediate impact. In theory though, if there are some congressional districts or congressmen or local government officials that they would want to lend assistance, the (Senate) finance committee chair could opt to tell them to identify the projects early on and have it included in the budget. But there’s no more lump sum appropriations,” Senate sources said.

The possibility of availing of government funds is still there, by having to specify in the proposed national budget, during deliberations period, but it will no longer require the senator’s signature for certification or endorsement.

“Mas malinis na although technically can be viewed as another form of congressional insertions,” was how sources described it.
The scenario being given is that, in the entire budget process, lawmakers can still make some “congressional insertions” while the proposed national expenditure program for the following fiscal year is still in the stage of “budget call.”

New Scheme?

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issues the national budget call at the start of the budget preparation year to all agencies and contains the parameters set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee as well as policy guidelines and procedures in the preparation and submission of agency budget proposals.

“What will happen now? It will be a weakened presidency. If before, the Executive can dangle before the senators the release of their PDAF, what other option is available? A threat?” a Senate insider pointed out.

“The major effect (of the SC ruling) is on him and not on the senators, unless absolutely PNoy (President Aquino) will no longer consult them on what projects to pursue which they (Executive) can if they would opt to have it included in the budget call.

“It’s a weakened presidency because tinanggalan sya ng pambili (he cannot wield influence on senators and congressmen),” Senate insiders explained.
The power of the President allows him to make use of the issue of the release of the PDAF in the middle of the year which will be a different case in the year ahead.

“Ano na ang pambili nya ng boto on important issues, issues crucial to him ngayon na wala ng PDAF? Hindi na magagamit ang PDAF,” they said.

It’s possible that the Executive would create a new scheme, give PDAF a new name in the succeeding general appropriations bill (GAB) considering the fact that “what has been declared as illegal PDAF is those allocated for this year,” sources said.

Although technically, lawmakers are rendered to with only recommendatory powers which was “mandatory” under the pork barrel fund system, senators and congressmen could still pursue projects by requesting the availability of funds or appropriation before the proposed President’s budget is submitted before Congress, they explained.

Long-time and high-rank cited the possibility of such scenario, the matter of PDAF taking a different label, in the future by having items being requested by lawmakers in the national expenditure program (NEP).

Patronage System

The Executive could propose lump sum appropriations which members of the House of Representatives and the Senate can tap in identifying their programs.

“Unless doon pa lang sa budget call kasama na yung mga senador, pwede rin yun. But there’s no more discretionary powers for them because they can only recommend in the sense as to where some of these funds should be allocated. And when they do so, they can no longer change that, which means that those LGUs and other sectors seeking assistance or intervention from them on funding requirements after the budget bill is passed is no longer possible,” they explained.

Can the President resort to so-called party system? Will it strengthen the party system?

“Let’s see. Sometimes they dangle dangle the party chairmanship or other positions for prestige or honor. But one thing is for sure, they will have to be more creative now as to how to enrich themselves. In that sense, this one stops commission-basis. It lessened the patronage system,” they said.

The Unconstitutional PDAF

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by Ramon Orosa

THE recent decision of the Supreme Court finding the PDAF unconstitutional is a source of relief to the nation. Sorry that PNoy cannot claim any credit when he had the opportunity to do away with that particular monstrosity. In fact, one might conclude that he resisted every effort to abolish PDAF, which only betrayed his less than sincere commitment to the “matuwid na Daan” and that slogan figures way down in his scale of priorities. Some say he is just so hardheaded, refusing to listen to anybody. Probably true considering that he is surrounded by persons whose values are deeply troubled to begin with and so give advise that they think PNoy wants to hear, playing up to his ego considering his well known obstinacy.

Of course, part of the reason for his obstinacy is likely rooted in his own discretionary use of public funds from different sources, like the Maalampaya funds, the road users tax, dividends from government owned and controlled corporations, etc., etc. Not that he steals from them, but these discretionary funds enable him to buy political loyalty and cooperation for what he perceives to be his agenda, which, of course, nobody knows about, except from rather motherhood like statements.

Some critics suggest that the king has been shown naked, bereft of respect, honor and shorn of a sense of dignity except of the wrong kind, being born to a privileged family. I wonder why the story keeps going about that his mother Cory, was rather firm that she didn’t want PNoy to stand for the presidential office. But she passed away and all the other opportunists sensing they could ride the popularity of Cory, bamboozled PNoy into running for office, probably including most of the relatives. I guess they did not know PNoy as well as Cory or saw for themselves exalted “roles” as puppet masters should he win.

Stories abound that when Mar was still the leading presidential candidate, PNoy’s name was proposed as a vice presidential candidate and this was laughed off the table. Okay let us be more polite by saying the idea was given short shrift! Then Cory dies, and all of a sudden from being a rejected vice-presidential candidate, Mar is pushed down so they could ride the sympathy vote for Cory by making PNoy the presidential candidate.

I suppose the “experienced” politicians around PNoy felt they could gather the perception managers well and maneuver PNoy into whatever posture they felt was appropriate and that they could manage the rest of the bureaucracy (and, of course, gain all the unbidden advantages and fruits there from) . Unfortunately, failing to listen to the views of the mother, and substituting their own secret ambitions, they felt they had it in the bag.

The last three years are certainly proof that this rather brief narration is not without merit except that rather than a smooth flow they have found PNoy to be a rather difficult person to deal with but to whom they must pay obeisance or lose their favored positions. So the nation moves in a zigzag pattern, and the lack of capacity and experience of the king have been unmasked. In a continuing series of mishandled events, the evidence is rather telling that while perhaps personally honest, PNoy’s values are rather pedestrian and do not depart from the values of all the other politicians who believe that politics is king and winning the only consideration. Politics is a position of power to be sought and held on to by any means fair or foul and passed on as a family inheritance to succeeding generations regardless of their qualifications. Well, in some respects one could say that since sense of self is the only real enduring value, one does not need to be competent, moral or competent in the position. After all, those positions had already been retooled to become a lucrative sinecure by legal means or otherwise.

These politicians do not have any sense of love of country, a rather esoteric or abstract notion to begin with. Obviously our best schools have not been able to implant these values into them! Probably because the example of their parents were rather dysfunctional to begin with. Our culture is so conducive to contradictions and dysfunctions resulting in a great divide between reality or what is truly going on and the “public” image that is so carefully cultivated at great cost. I really don’t think the hypocrisy is lost on their children but the pressures to conform to such a lifestyle can be great and the conveniences of an abundant way of living hard to resist.

So, no matter how gained, money and power have become the gods. In truth, they suffer from an incredible love deficiency, not the pretended hypocritical kind. Internal images are distorted because if one were to truly analyze what is going on and we are willing to face truth, 80% of our national and local problems may be traced to poor parenting, especially of the “father” kind. So the self identity suffers from loss of worth and dignity, filled with insecurity and founded on fear which they try to overcome with money, guns, and goons. They seek honor and respect not because they deserve it but because of things outside of themselves. Things that never last and in the end don’t really matter.

They can’t add value to anyone and only seek to use everyone otherwise the others are no one! It is a sad realization of what truly ails our country and why there is no real change that takes place. It is only when we see our realities that we can begin the change process. PNoy was seen as the “savior” and most now see that he is not. Let us stop pointing fingers and getting angry. Let us begin with our own selves and realize that darkness is not fought with anger or bitterness. We each have to become a light in our nation to dispel the darkness that is getting darker each day. Our hope lies within us as we set our faces like flint to do good whenever we are given an opportunity to do so, no matter how modest it might be. Then life can begin to change and so will our nation. This revolution of goodness must start now.

Moment of Truth

Posted on Updated on

by Ronald Roy

ALMOST exactly a year ago, I wrote a thesis on “judicial activism” in two parts. The first was titled Judicial Activism, dated Nov. 27, 2012, which underscored: “Indeed, unless something drastic is done, a denial of plaintiffs, the People of the Philippines (in the Ampatuan case) may unduly result (in the breach of) xxx the constitutional guarantee of a speedy delivery of justice—alas, a situation showing an unpardonable dearth of courage and innovation on the part of all officially connected with the operations within the criminal justice system (at the core of which is the Supreme Court.)”

Then came a month later Judicial Activism 2, dated Dec. 4, 2012, stressing that: “It is extremely gratifying to note that 6 out of 7 of this column’s readers favor my advocacy of judicial activism as an imperative answer to two legal enigmas, namely, one, in particular to quicken the pace of criminal trial of heinous crimes xxx and two, in general how to beat back the flames (of an incorrigibly corrupt pork barrel system) now rapidly engulfing the (executive and legislative departments).”
In connection with the foregoing, let me set aside P-Noy’s much-publicized management failures in Nur Misuari’s siege of Zamboanga and Super typhoon Yolanda’s massive destruction of lives and properties in Eastern Samar, Leyte and other parts of the Visayas, and instead focus on his presidential mien and mindset in the aftermath of the high court’s lopsided 14-0-1 thumbing down of PDAF as unconstitutional.

Well, he has managed to appear calm and cool as a cucumber in the face of the court’s subtle declaration that his patronage politics was over; but he has not, has he? Surely, not in the face of his revelation before media that he needs more money from Congress for the restoration of normalcy in calamity-ravaged Central Luzon. He must be fidgety these days, wondering how the solons can “come across”, given the Supreme Court’s radical shift to activism and tight watch on them, and given that not only their constituencies but the entire citizenry as well are closely keeping an eye on them.

How then can P-Noy, his Cabinet, the DBM in particular, and Congress perform their mandated roles without the needed funds? It’s obvious they do not deserve our sympathy because they have no one but themselves to blame. They had more than three years to prepare, and when the Zamboanga war, the 7.2 Bohol earthquake and “Yolanda” struck, they were caught flat-footed! And now, the high court is lowering the boom on the unconstitutional features of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)! Ayayay!!

Just think: on three previous occasions, the PDAF (then termed CDF for countryside development fund) was ruled constitutional, but only recently got booted out, thanks to the court’s new-found jugular activism! I really do not care if the nine so-called pro-GMA associate justices “crossed the line” just to get back at P-Noy. The fact is they’ve pushed him ( and his minions) up the wall for some hard reflection: “This is it, the moment of truth has come. DAP, an unauthorized invention by me Butch Abad and other boot-lickers, will surely be declared unconstitutional. There’s no way to escape. Should I now ‘do a Nixon’ with my dignity intact?”
However, this form of honorable exit is wishful thinking. P-Noy will never resign, much less apologize to his bosses, because he reckons it is he who is their boss — his imagined lofty status as an oligarch who “owns and controls” the country. No, he does not steal because hacienda Luisita alone makes him in his mind an enormously wealthy person.

Of course this is twisted thinking by him but, oh well, yes, I think it is if all this talk about his confinement abroad (when he was a kid) for a mental disorder is true. Honestly, I mean no derision and, if the rumor is true, I fervently pray he gets well…unless it’s too late…in which case we’re inextricably stuck in something like a quicksand beneath which lurks a snoring python!!

I take back my previous description of the Supreme Court as the weakest among the three supposedly co-equal and coordinate branches of government, it wielding merely the so-called “power ” of the pen, as against the mighty sword of the Office of the President and Congress’ awesome power of the purse. I was wrong. If at all, it is the Judiciary that is the mightiest among the three branches, since it is the final arbiter over questions of law.

Hence, It was but proper for the high court to put its foot down on what it has identified as a wantonly abusive behavior among executive and legislative officials within the pork barrel system. Thus, in the final analysis, it is the Supreme Court, not another agency or body in government, that is empowered to sustain a healthy democratic balance among the three branches within a structure operating under a Rule of Law.

With fingers crossed, we can now predict the rolling of executive and legislative heads with the high court’s pronouncement that DAP, otherwise known as presidential pork, is likewise unconstitutional. It may then be proclaimed that the high tribunal has proudly hurdled its moment of truth.