Monday, November 21, 2011

Standing up to the Supreme Court is a constitutional duty of the executive and legislative branches under the principle of checks and balances

This latest clash between the executive and judicial branches of government is testing the limits of our constitutional democracy and, to my mind, rightly so. Clearly, the old ways and the old approaches in our efforts to fight corruption and lawlessness have failed us. The system of justice thus far has failed to ensure respect for the rule of law. Hence, we see the prevalence of lawlessness and, most unfortunately, the Supreme Court in a string of controversial rulings has helped little in restoring faith and respect for our system of justice.

These rulings include: the flip-flopping on the case involving the League of Cities, wherein the SC flip-flopped four times in a span of two years; the flip-flop in the FASAP PALEA case; the TRO against the House of Representatives when it initiated impeachment proceedings against Ombudsman Mercy Gutierrez, who was accused of protecting the ARROYOS by sitting on cases filed against them; the voiding of the Truth Commission meant to investigate the Arroyos; and the TRO last week to allow the Arroyos to leave for abroad without any certainty as to whether they are to return, nor any definitive finding as to whether her condition was indeed life threatening (See dissenting opinions of Justice Sereno and Carpio).

In fact, in all of the above-mentioned cases, the SC has courted insubordination and disrespect for what many have described as the whimsical and arbitrary exercise of judicial authority.

It is in this context that, as a member of the legislative branch of government, I am convinced that we need to push the and test the limits of our constitutional democracy and see how far we need to go, how far we need to test its efficacy to effect sweeping change and reform. Yes, this is out of the norm. Yes, this is non-conventional because, clearly, we cannot do the same thing over and over again and expect to see real change happen. We need to do things differently. We need to take risks and venture into unfamiliar legal and constitutional terrain if necessary. We need to experiment with new approaches. We need to be bold and daring and--yes--even irreverent, if we wish to see real change happen.

Hence, we support the position taken by Secretary Leila De Lima, and we urge the Supreme Court to read the writing on the wall. Arbitrary and whimsical court orders, directed towards a co-equal, have no place in a constitutional democracy. It must be opposed vigorously. In fact, both the executive and legislative branches of government must unite in its exercise of its constitutional duty and its obligation to serve as a check on a wayward judiciary.

No, this is not anarchy. This is democracy at work. It is the principle of checks and balances at work. It is, to my mind, the sworn duty of the executive and the legislative departments to act as a check on a wayward judiciary. We will respect the Supreme Court, yes, but we will do so as a co-equal and not as a meek, submissive and inutile subordinate.


momi_embz said...

thanks for making us, laymen, to understand the principles behind the laws..
i just hope more Filipinos would hear/read your views

><> said...

The clash between the judiciary (via the Supreme Court) and the executive branch of the government (via sec. Leila De Lima), including the legislative engaging in the controversy, just because of the Arroyo case, is a sort of miscoordination in the three branches of the Philippine Government.

The Judiciary is supposed to be a passive court that waits for a complaint or information before it acts upon it. The Executive is the active force that sometimes have to make a decisive action even at some controversial issues to ensure that the ends of justice is not compromised. The Legislative carries with it the power of inquiry for purposes of legislation only and not another court.

It's just a matter of knowing their job description and not messing up at another's job.