Monday, December 29, 2008

Art Panganiban, Religious and Judicial Fascist?

Perhaps reacting to Cory's apology to Erap for Edsa Dos, and remembering his own pivotal role in those anomalous events, former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, (now a columnist for a tabloid-broadsheet) defends SCoRP and Edsa Dos with the self-serving claim that "our Constitution has mandated the Court to be “activist,” to be an “interventionist” in all gravely abusive acts."

I think it is time to challenge this interpretation of the 1987 Constitution, which is so often repeated that it is becoming public dogma. Panganiban's assertion of a Constitutionally-mandated activist-interventionist role for the Supreme Court is of dubious durability and legitimacy. In fact, I believe it to be outrageous, and if commonly held by the members of the Court, it helps to explain the pitiful failure of SCoRP to rise above the quagmire of its own embarrassing past.
1987 Art. 8 Sec. 1 The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
As examples of how this "extraordinary Court" has discharged what he calls a "duty it cannot evade" he cites:
For example, in 1997 and 2006, it stopped imprudent efforts to revise the Constitution through a peoples’ initiative. In 2001, it defrocked Joseph Ejercito Estrada and validated Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ascent to the presidency. It has also annulled presidential issuances (like Presidential Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of national emergency), nullified acts of Congress, and voided government contracts.
I'll say SCoRP has nullified acts of Congress, alright. For example, the virtual acquittal of Joseph Estrada, the attempted impeachment of Hilario Davide, and the virtual shutdown of investigations into bribery allegations surrounding certain members of the Supreme Court itself.

He claims that SCoRP "defrocked Joseph Estrada". But I think SCoRP grievously abused its own discretion since Edsa Dos was about a case of Impeachment over which SCoRP has a total lack of jurisdiction under the Constitution.
PANGANIBAN: "It seems ironic that unelected justices are required by our Constitution to check the elected leaders of the country. This is because those lodged with political power tend to violate, shortcut or ignore the law. The democratic constituency of the Supreme Court is the Constitution, which has been overwhelmingly ratified by the people. Hence, the Court’s loyalty is always to the Charter, not to the President or Congress."
There you see, it's all the fault of "those lodged with political power" who "tend to violate, shortcut or ignore the law." So this is how Pundit Panganiban justifies the unjust and damnable actions of Justice Panganiban, co-conspirator of Hilario Davide, Angelo Reyes, Jaime Cardinal Sin and GMA!

Ahem. Recall that it was then Associate Justice Panganiban who came up with the idea of swearing in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on 20 Jan 2001 upon a claim that Joseph Estrada was permanently incapacitated, and even bragging about the whole thing a year later in his book, Reforming the Judiciary [sic!]. Recall further, that it was Panganiban, who together with Davide, out-argued the incomparable Cecilia Munoz Palma on that fateful Saturday morning in January, 2001, and got the Supreme Court to authorize what amounted to a judicial-miltary coup d'etat against a democratically-elected, if incorrigibly dipsomaniacal Joseph Estrada.

So, what was that about those who "tend to violate, shortcut or ignore the law??"
PANGANIBAN: "Extraordinary judicial duties. Because of our sad experience during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos, our 1987 Constitution granted our judiciary both ordinary and extraordinary authority to check the abuses and excesses of the other branches of government."
Ironically and paradoxically, it is SCoRP leading us back to Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, in the diminutive but deadly guise of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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Pedestrian Observer GB said...

Machiavelli is alive and well in the Philippines where everyone feels entitled and above everyone else even the constipation errr constitution........ here is something that can relieve your stress while improving your golfing skills.

GabbyD said...

in addition to your complaints, if found his differentiation between duties and powers curious. According 2 him, powers can be given up, duties cannot be. Is this a standard interpretation of duties VS powers?

I agree that this is dangerous, but i beg to disagree w Justice panganiban about the court and edsa II...

from your own excerpt, it is clear from the justice's own words, that EDSA 2 was a special event (his POV) where activism was necessary at the time.

However, this column extends that to non-revolutionary contexts, which is dangerous.

raj said...

isn't j. panganiban a member of the OPUS DEI?