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.

Related Posts

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

While the Door of Observation Swings Open...

Is there anything journalistically wrong with this headline on the front page of our favorite newspaper this morning?

English-only bill faces tough fight?

Nothing, unless of course it is NOT true!
The bill states that:

* English, Filipino or the regional/native language may be used as the teaching language in all subjects from pre-school to Grade 3;

* English shall be the teaching language in all academic subjects from Grades 4 to 6, and in all levels of high school;

* English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects in all levels of elementary and high school;

* The current language policy prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education shall be maintained in college; and

* English shall be promoted as the language of interaction in schools.
It is important for certain people, you see, to deny that English is perhaps our most precious intellectual and cultural heritage. They cannot reconcile themselves with history as it has truly and really been lived by the Filipino people during the last one hundred years or more. They would deny that we are now part of the Western world and the Anglosphere, and irrevocably so. They would cast the nation down to the Babel of a language and ethnic apartheid composed of over 160 separate languages and barely limnable tribal affiliations. They believe in a silly set of ideas, falling under a mistaken appreciation of the "Mother Language hypothesis" that serves only one master: political correctness. At the practical level, they steadfastly refuse to see to the real needs of our global, mobile work force: the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose singular edge of acceptability and assimilability has been the English language. Likewise, they would shut our doors, xenophobically, to the vast opportunities in call centers, back office operations, software development, technical support, medical and legal transcription services, etc. in order to maintain the current education system's strange arrangement, in which more than half the teaching time is done in the vernacular instead of the global lingua anglica.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Fishy Fairy Tale

It's the kind of headline one usually finds  on the front pages of tabloids like the National Enquirer:  Dolphins and Whales Save Fisherman!    PDI reports news of an amazing rescue of a "fisherman"  adrift on a piece of styropore in Puerto Princesa Bay  by a pod of thirty spinner dolphins and a pair of pilot whales who allegedly "nudged" him to shore near Barangay Luzviminda, where he awoke the next resume his life as a whale and dolphin tourist guide for the City of Puerto Princesa. 
(PDI Southern Luzon Bureau) Dabal said he passed out while the dolphins were doing their slow chore of nudging him to shore, and woke up on the beach of Barangay (Village) Luzviminda where he was finally assisted by local residents there.
Dabal’s unique experience is made more special by the fact that aside from owning a small motorized boat which he uses mainly as his main source of livelihood catching tuna, he is a deputized dolphin warden on a part-time basis having been trained by the Palawan NGO Network and ABS CBN Bantay Kalikasan Foundation. The two groups are helping the city government in promoting dolphin and whale shark watching as a tourist attraction in Puerto Princesa.

“He is warden and a spotter, whom we tap to locate the presence of dolphins whenever there are guests on dolphin watching tours. He is also involved mainly in collecting garbage around the areas frequented by the dolphins to prevent the animals from eating them and being poisoned by plastics that float around,” Dr. Gerry Ortega of ABS CBN Foundation said.

Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn was so elated by Ronnie’s account that he vowed to ratchet up his administration’s support to the fishing communities around Puerto Bay that were helping promote dolphin and whales tourism by being volunteer wardens and spotters.

“Ronnie’s experience is the greatest proof that what we are doing to protect our marine environment is worth all the effort that we are putting into it. I’d like to think that this is the animals’ way of also thanking us for helping protect their habitat,” said Hagedorn.
The cynic in me suggests this fish story is really a FAIRY TALE disguised as a news story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"This Is Your Farewell Kiss, You Dog!"

MUNTADAR AL-ZEIDI, a correspondent of Bhagdadia TV, and his Size 10 shoes have made History after he hurled them (but missed) at outgoing US President George W. Bush at a surprise Press Conference in Bhagdad.  This video of the incident has apparently gone viral on the Web and has been viewed millions of times in just the last few days.  Check out Boing Boing's compendium of remixed video, animation, games, etc. that have been spawned.  I guess this video clip is destined to become iconic of the Bush Presidency and perhaps even of the Iraq War.
It would be different of course if this Iraqi journalist had been hurling grenades or IEDs, but I think this was one journalist's opinion being expressed in a radical and provocative manner, like Jews rending their garments in disgust.  Thus, even if we detest his speech, we must defend his right to express it.  That is one bit of the Democracy promised and hoped for in Iraq.  

"Attacking a foreign dignitary" is reportedly considered to be a crime in Iraq.   But with Iraqi's hailing Muntadar a hero, it is not certain what his fate under arrest will be.

Ding Gagelonia  over at Filipino Voices discusses  various aspects of this incident.  But Blackshama notes the appearance of yet another idiotic Inquirer editorial.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Martial Law Option

ART PANGANIBAN (formerly Chief Justice of SCoRP, turned PDI Pundit) addresses Arroyo's Options in case the chacha choo choo fails to leave the House. She could (1) declare martial law; (2) assume emergency rule; (3) run for Vice President in 2010 and assume the Presidency, again, like she did in 2001; or (4) play the new Kingmaker and control the next admin.

Caveats in reverse order: Option (4) would be the conventional dismount and is probably the safest course. But it is fraught with risk because if her horse doesn't win, and stripped of Presidential immunity, Gloria Arroyo could face years of prosecution.

Option 3 is interesting for its novelty and would be legal. She could run with Noli de Castro for example, win the Vice Presidency and have Noli resign for her to have six more years. (Yippee!)

Option 2, as Panganiban points out, would be highly unpopular and even face international censure.

Option 1 -- the martial law option -- is the most important and fascinating. Long before either the writ of habeas corpus is suspended or martial law imposed, Filipinos ought to familiarize themselves with the following provision of the Constitution. Although the 1987 charter is reputed to be full of anti martial law features, the reality is, under the present provision, the Lower House, by itself, in conspiracy with the President, COULD impose martial law indefinitely.

However, I disagree with Art Panganiban that under a legislative-executive martial law regime, that they could then convene Con-Ass and switch to a unicameral Parliamentary system. The provision itself is clear--"A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies..."
1987 Article 7 Section 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion.

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.
Many people, including this writer, have become familiar with several key provisions of the 1987 Constitution as a result of President Arroyo's expert assaults and skillful utilization of them. This bitter experience continues and if anything promises to get worse as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo refuses to dismount the Tiger. I suppose that before it actually happens, people really ought to anticipate her next dire move and come to understand the provision that will surely come into play if GMA plays the Martial Law Card.

Just perusing this provision will reveal much terra incognita that ought to be threshed out now. For example, WHERE is the vote to be taken to either reject or uphold a declaration of martial law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus? The Batasan in Quezon City or the Senate in Pasay City? Who convenes and/or presides over such a session?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Carol of the Bells by Philippine Madrigal Singers

Enjoy! Christmas is just around the corner.

Here's another version by Enoch...(can you tell this is a favorite of mine?)

Carol of the Bells

Oh, I have an essay at Filipino Voices that is related to this...What WAS the Start of Bethlehem?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Unicameral Con-Ass Again?

Speaking on the noon time news today, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero brings up a good point. The present chacha movement in the House may be nothing more than a rear guard action to prevent her becoming a lame duck. As long as even the faintest hope of extending her term or changing the Constitution to suit exists, the Palace may be able to forestall the inevitable abandonment as 2010 and a new dispensation approaches. Palace allies in the House are keeping up a brave front about the Villafuerte Resolution--which reportedly convenes the Congress into a Constituent Assembly without the concurrent approval of the Senate. Yesterday, the Upper House voted unanimously to reject such a "unicameral Con-Ass" -- a Constitutional abomination if there is one.
Some people want you to believe that the following statement is "ambiguous"--
Any amendment to, or revision of this Constitution, may be proposed by the Congress upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members;
They want you to believe that it is ambiguous because they actually want the Supreme Court to decide what the Constitution means by this simple declarative sentence--after the President gets seven more chances to populate it with willing sycophants.

But it is NOT the case that one of the two alternatives, joint or separate voting on proposed charter changes, is unconstitutional, since either mode can comply with the three fourths majority requirement. Either mode is constitutional. There is naothing for the Supreme Court to decide. It is not that kind of ambiguity. It is up to the Congress to dacecide in its own discretion, which mode to use, not for the Supreme Court to decide which is bigger, half a dozen of one or six of the other!

In my opinion there is NO ambiguity to the fact that "the Congress" (NOT the House, nor the Senate, nor the Members of the Congress) is here granted the power to propose any amendment or revision to the Charter. HOW it is to comply with the three fourths majority rule requirement for approving such proposals is, most emphatically, entirely in the discretion of the Congress. There is no deep or hidden meaning in this plain language for the Supreme Court to debate upon, or discern, or adjudicate. The Constitution simply provides "the Congress" with the power to propose charter changes as long as it obeys the three fourths majority rule.

Thus, it is indubitably Constitutional for the Congress to adopt either VOTING JOINTLY as the House Majority is suddenly insisting upon as a last desperate chachachero dance, or VOTING SEPARATELY as the House and Senate have put in their Rules until this very day! Let me repeat: voting jointly or voting separately complies with the three fourths majority rule, so either mode would be Constitutional.

The important and perhaps subtle point that lots of people have missed, is that the Constitution leaves it entirely up to the Congress HOW it will exercise "constituent power" (the power to propose changes) whilst complying with the numerical majority requirement.

Now for the coup d'grace: although "the Congress" could conceivably decide to adopt the joint voting mode and ignore the difference between Senate and House membership, it can only ever come to this decision by first voting upon it in the default mode by which the Congress does anything--by having the House and Senate separately approve the same by a simple majority vote!

There are in fact a myriad number of ways conceivable for the Congress to approve proposed charter changes whilst complying with the three fourths majority rule. But every single one of these completely Constitutional modes can only be approved by "the Congress" in its default mode: House and Senate voting separately!

So once and for all, ladies and germs: the Supreme Court has nothing to decide or adjudicate in Article 17 Sec. 1. The Constitution is not ambiguous about Charter Change. It gives to the Congress all the powers and prerogatives to decide HOW it will comply with the Constitution when it proposes changes to it.

The "laws of physics" of a Bicameral Legislature dictate the "construction" of the Constitution and cannot be repealed without self-ridicule, not even by a Supreme Court of uniform sycophancy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vivisecting Villafuerte

The Supreme Court (in a Minute Resolution) recently dismissed Kampi Rep. Adam Relson Jala's petition to have the present House Rule on charter change proposals declared unconstitutional, which Rule upholds the 1935 concept of Congress proposing charter changes with House and Senate voting separately. But Kampi President and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte is leading one last desperate chacha attempt on Gloria's behalf based on certain quaint and curious notions about bicameral legislatures and constitutional arithmetic that are here examined and vivisected. He explained his views to Pia Hontiveros on ABSCBN's Strictly Politics program last Tuesday. (MP3)

Manuel L. Quezon III mentions 1935 Constitution with some nostalgia on his blog this week, noting how well it served the Second Republic. Unlike the present charter, 1935 was certainly unambiguous on Charter amendments:
Art. 15 Section 1. The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification.
The 1987 charter in stark contrast, too tersely states:
Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:

(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or

(2) A constitutional convention.
There is an obvious ambiguity in Art. 17 Sec. 1 because it does not specify "voting separately" as in 1935, or "voting jointly" as in the Martial Law provision. But this ambiguity is not some kind of show-stopping flaw that now requires Supreme Court action. All it means is that the Congress can and must exercise its discretion in HOW it will comply with the Constitution whenever it exercises this power to propose amendments or revisions.

In fact as reflected in the Rules that the House and Senate have adopted since 1987, the Congress has already decided that "upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members" means with House and Senate voting separately under three fourths majority rule to propose charter changes, just as with ordinary legislation.

Alternatively, the Congress could decide to comply with the 1987's three fourths majority rule by having House and Senate Members voting jointly and requiring a three fourths majority rule regardless of which chamber they belong too, as the unicameral Con-Ass artisans like Rep. Luis Villafuerte (Kampi, Camarines Sur) would like the Supreme Court to force it to do.

Rep. Luis Villafuerte, head of the President's party Kampi, is leading the latest chacha attempt on her behalf. He asserts that when the Members of Congress are proposing charter changes they are not acting as legislators but are exercising something he calls "constituent power" -- the power to propose changes -- and that therefore they must convene in a special joint session -- a Constituent Assembly -- for the purpose of debating and approving proposed charter changes. Moreover, he would like the SCoRP to rule that the Congress vote jointly, please. He told Pia Hontiveros of ABSCBN News Tuesday that he was trying to "trigger a justiciable case" to force the Supreme Court to decide upon what the 1987 provision means: voting jointly or voting separately on proposed charter changes.

Here is a subtle point that is however devastating to Villafuerte, and the Unicameralists. Regardless of whether the Congress decides to use "voting separately as House and Senate" or "voting jointly as a Constituent Assembly" when approving proposed charter changes, the Congress can only come to that decision itself of what chacha voting mode it will use, by an unavoidable process in which the House and Senate first separately vote to adopt such a mode or convene such a joint constituent assembly! It is the "default mode" of operation of a bicameral Congress, to which, and not to its individual Members, the thing Villafuerte calls "constituent power" is actually vested.

Recently, the good Rep. Villafuerte has been circulating a Resolution that he claims will have the "necessary number of signatures" (198, or three fourths of (238 + 24) to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly without a separate Senate approval as well as trigger a challenge in the Supreme Court.

The ineluctable fact of course is that even if every single Member of the Lower House were to sign the Villafuerte Resolution, it would remain a Resolution of the Lower House, nothing more, nothing less. As such, it cannot compel the Senate, nor therefore the Congress itself, to convene such a Con-Ass. Ironically, I believe that the House and Senate can separately, by simple majorities vote to convene such a Constituent Assembly without need of Supreme Court orders. Being within Congress' discretion, it would be an abuse of its own jurisdiction for the Supreme Court to be ordering the Congress to adopt a voting mode one way or the other.

SCoRP will probably need nothing more than a Minute Resolution to despatch Villafuerte's Resolution to the dustbin of Failed Petitions for Advisory Opinions from the Supreme Court. I predict the same ignominious end for the Villafuerte Resolution as met Adam Relson Jala's own attempt to elicit a favorable Supreme Court ruling for "unicameral con-ass".


It will be recalled that it was only by a single slim vote that the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the present charter stayed with the same basic form of government that existed before Marcos and his 1972 Martial Law constitution, which supplanted the 1935 charter. The Philippines almost became a unicameral Parliamentary form of government. Thus Fr. Joaquin Bernas has explained that it was an oversight that Art. 17 was not fleshed out for the eventual choice of a Presidential system with a bicameral legislature.

Nonetheless, the so-called ambiguity that exists in 1987 Art. 17 Sec. 1 is not such that the Supreme Court has to resolve the matter.

From the start, both the House and Senate understood that they could comply with the Constitution in one of two very different ways. First they could've decided to propose amendments or revisions while VOTING JOINTLY and ignoring the difference between membership in the Senate and membership in the House. But they did not do that. Instead they chose to adopt the same procedure they use in enacting laws in a bicameral legislature, i.e. with House and Senate VOTING SEPARATELY. Thus both House and Senate have consistently adopted Rules that obey the Constitution's three fourths majority requirement--even if that is done by voting separately.

The present attempt to bring about Charter Change before 2010, led by Rep. Luis Villafuerte (Kampi, Camarines Sur), is premised upon the assertion that because it would ALSO be Constitutional for the House and Senate to adopt Rules which would allow them to vote jointly on such proposals, he now intends to "trigger a justiciable controversy" for the Supreme Court to settle the issue and possibly wangle an interpretation that would require the Congress to vote jointly as desired by Villafuerte and company. There is a legitimate expectation that by late 2009, ALL the members of SCoRP will have been appointed by President Arroyo and handpicked for just this decision.

But there are several flies in this conceptual ointment.

In the first place, there can be no question that for the Congress to adopt the mode of voting jointly, the House and the Senate would have to vote separately to adopt that mode by repealing their present House and Senate Rules which prescribe voting separately!

Next, the Supreme Court might find it perverse to be asked to rule upon a matter that the Congress appears perfectly competent and entitled by the Constitution to decide entirely on its own, in the full and free exercise of its discretion, powers and duties. Indeed, the Congress, both House and Senate separately, have consistently adopted Rules that are natural and appropriate to a bicameral legislature and clearly obey the Constitution.

But the good Rep. Villafuerte believes that when the Members of Congress are exercising the power to propose amendments or revisions to the charter, they are not acting as legislators because it is "constituent power" they are exercising, not legislative power. Thus, he insists, that when exercising its constituent powers under the Constitution, the Congress must convene itself into a completely different entity, called a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass). And here the good Rep. Villafuerte makes a stunning leap and claim to trigger his hoped-for justiciable controversy: he asserts that three-fourths of all the Members of the Congress (even if they are all members of the House) can vote to convene Congress into such a Constitutent Assembly!

Occam would've castigated Villafuerte for an excess of appurtenances. I believe that the Congress COULD convene itself into such a Constituent Assembly if the House and the Senate voted to do so with simple majorities--but voting separately!

There are many places in the Constitution, in which it is entirely silent on HOW certain things are to be achieved or accomplished, usually leaving it up to Congress to pass "enabling legislation" for that purpose.

In reality, the Congress has already resolved the ambiguity in the chacha provision when the House and Senate each separately adopted Rules for exercising the power to propose amendments and revisions according to the procedure for enacting bills into law, but instead of simple majority votes in each of the House and Senate, they impose the Constitution's three fourths majority rule, still voting separately.

In other words, the Congress has interpreted the 1987 provision as if it were the 1935 provision, with each of the House and Senate voting separately. In my opinion this is perfectly reasonable and right, since the basic form of the government with a bicameral legislature, a strong chief executive and an independent judiciary has not changed. We still have a presidential form of government with a bicameral legislature, not a unicameral parliamentary one.

Speaking to Pia Hontiveros (Strictly Politics, ANC) Rep. Luis Villafuerte, President of the Kampi Party of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said he wants to trigger "a justiciable controversy" to get the Supreme Court to rule definitively on the meaning of Article 17 Sec. (1). For this purpose he has drafted a resolution on which he says he only needs 198 signatures to trigger that justiciable controversy. But Rep. Villafuerte informs the audience that his resolution does not contain any specific amendment or revision of the Constitution as such, but only "establishes the mode" by which Congress is to exercise its "constituent power" to propose such changes for ratification at plebiscite.

The leitmotif of the Villafuerte mode of exercising constituent power is the concept of a "Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass)." Notice that in the 1935 provision, Congress "in joint session assembled" proposes amendments with House and Senate Members voting separately and obeying the three fourths majority rule. The Villafuerte Resolution however contemplates an entirely different entity altogether than that found in the 1935 Constitution. He envisions a Constituent Assembly whose Members are all the Members of Congress with no distinction as to whether they are Senators or House Members.

The Villafuerte Con-Ass looks an awful lot like a Constitutional Convention composed of all the Members of the Congress. But since the identity of each Members of Congress as Senator or Congressman has been obliterated, we must presume that this new body, this Con-Ass, must also elect separate leaders to run the Con-Ass, with a separate bureaucracy and funding requirements, office space, support staff and facilities, which of course, the same bunch of Members, but acting in their alter ego capacity as the Congress, must fund in the budget.

When exercising "constituent power", claims Rep. Villafuerte, the Members of Congress are not acting as legislators and therefore Congress can dispense with its normal mode of "voting separately" as it does on normal legislation, ignore the difference between Senators and Congressmen and act just like a Constitutional Convention.

All in all, Villafuerte's conception of charter change through the Congress involves the re-organization of the Members of the Congress into an entirely separate entity that is a unicameral Constituent Assembly. This is very different from the 1935 "joint session" of the Congress, since the latter unambiguously upheld the bicameral nature of the Congress even when exercising what Villafuerte calls constituent power.

There is nothing ambiguous about the 1987 provisions grant of constituent power--the power to propose charter changes--to THE CONGRESS, and not to its individual members as some kind of personal entitlement. Thus there could be nothing more contradictory of the plain language of the Constitution --that any revision or amendment may be proposed BY THE CONGRESS-- than the following statement of the good Rep. Luis Villafuerte: (MP3)

Secure in its Place (Firmly Bolted to the Titanic!)

CONGRATULATIONS are in order on the 23rd anniversary of the Philippine Daily Innuendo (PDI) whose editorial Secure In Its Place states:
The Inquirer is the No. 1 broadsheet in circulation and readership. It has a circulation of about 245,000 copies on weekdays and 260,000 Sundays. The Nielsen Media Index study last month showed that the Inquirer accounts for 49 percent of respondents who had read a broadsheet the day before. The Philippine Star ranked second, followed by the Manila Bulletin. The Media Atlas of Synovate has also shown that the Inquirer is the daily newspaper of choice of 44 percent of people who read English dailies every day in urban areas. Star ranked second and the Bulletin, third.
These numbers were a lot bigger ten or even five years ago. Yup! It's firmly bolted to the Titanic of printed newspapers, whose economic and ecological problems appear to be terminal all over the world. But PDI's biggest problem is never having figured out how to become an institution instead of a Mass Organization masquerading as a Large-Format Tabloid. And the Band played on...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Title Would You Give This Image?

Filipino Voices blogger Cocoy (Big Mango) notes the blasphemous tempest in a teapot swirling around the above print ad by ad firm Ogilvy featuring sensational boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and entitled "Give us this day" ... apparently ordered to cease and desist on the ground that the image is "blasphemous". Aw sh*t... have we turned into Saudi Arabia or Pakistan already?!

So, please submit your best answer. What title would YOU give this image. (By the way, Manny, I'm a believer!).