I spied some people crowing about the bit of expert “historical perspective” provided by Inquirer.net “columnist” Raul Pangalangan in his recent piece that is given the presumptuous title ‘Save the Constituition from the Court’. I must say, the Inquirer Editor should re-evaluate the mix of writers she employs lest the reputation of the venerable “newspaper” as the Filipino peoples’ brains trust be dragged down by their quaint textbook “knowledge”. The manner with which some of these writers mislead their vast readership with their flawed, sloppy, and often lazy thinking is borderline criminal.
(1) Pangalangan claims that a “showdown” between MalacaÃ±ang and the Supreme court is not unprecedented as some of us claim. Fair enough (ignoring for now the lame examples he cites to illustrates his limp point). The existence of three co-equal branches of government assures us a healthy check-and-balance of each one’s devices, and therefore some degree of conflict is expected and instances of these dot history since the dawn of “democracy”. What is unprecedented in recent Philippine history is the railroading of the impeachment complaint. It is railroading to the tune of no less than 188 House “representatives” within the span of less than a day signing up to it (many of whom reportedly hadn’t even read it at the time they signed up).
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(2) Pangalangan cites instances where US President Barack Obama himself “denounced” the US Supreme Court “in the presence of several justices”. I suppose he hoped to provide some sort of perverse perspective to excuse Noynoy’s spectacular exhibition of his ill-breeding in the speech he delivered before the First National Criminal Justice Summit. I’m not sure where this obssession with comparing Obama to Noynoy amongst the Yellow mob keeps coming from but doing so is like comparing a German-engineered Mercedes Benz to a de-pukpok “manufactured” jeepney. Apples-to-chicharon does not make for credible science (even Pinoy-style science).
(3) Pangalangan cites the way the late US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) himself mounted a “court packing plan” to mitigate the rulings of a “conservative” US Supreme Court at a time he was aggressively pushing his New Deal legislation to combat the Great Depression. But then as Pangalangan himself noted (in considering that the packing plan was not supported by US Congress), the US High Court eventually “changed its tune”. Pangalangan buries this little detail in a bracketed after-note, yet it illustrates an important point: that the stance of the justices of the US High Court could be changed — presumably this was done through intelligent and issues-based DEBATE. Perhaps Pangalangan should provide us with the details of the process that the US Supreme Court went through in changing their position on FDR’s New Deal — which is where the more important lesson for 21st Century Filipinos might lie.
True to the now all-too-familiar form of the romantic apologists of you-know-who, Pangalangan defers to that tired notion of “the People’s will”…
The real lesson here is that â€œWe, the Peopleâ€ own this Constitution. The courts do not hold a monopoly over the power to divine its meanings.
You wanna talk “saving” the Philippine “Constitution”? Well then Mr Raul Pangalangan, perhaps behold the wisdom of the grand-daddy of constitutionalism, the venerable Fr Joaquin Bernas SJ…
Government officials have only so much authority as is given to them by law and the Constitution, and not what they might assume to be given to them by popular rallies.
Taking the notion of the “power of the People” out of the context of institutional governance simply perverts it into the sad ocho-ocho practice of the millions of bozos whose minds are so utterly idled by persistent unemployment and/or dumbed-down by brain-cell-killing media content that they would routinely troop to those hare-brained street “rallies”, sign up to these vacuous “movements”, or monomaniacally “like” and “retweet” moronic slogans posted on Facebook or Twitter. And we have guys like Raul Pangalangan to thank for that sad disposition that infests Philippine society.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.