According to this Inquirer report, Senator Risa Hontiveros, “with the help of an institution”, took custody of the family of Kian Delos Santos who was allegedly killed by police officers in a botched anti-drug operation. According to the same report, “witnesses” to this killing were also taken by Hontiveros’s office.
It seems Hontiveros, in so doing, could be guilty of the following offenses:
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(1) Illegal detention; and,
(2) Tampering with and witholding evidence from the police.
On what legal basis is the office of a senator authorised to take custody of persons-of-interest in an on-going crime investigation? In a tweet fielded by Hontiveros she said that “My office will provide full protection & security to the family & witnesses & whatever legal service is needed…”
But does the legislature possess legal authority to provide services that agencies from within the executive branch of government — such as the police — already provide? Philippine Congress, after all, is a legislative body, and does not have executive function in government.
Furthermore, Congress does not have authority to issue summary judgments on the quality of the way the police conduct their operations. Issuing judgments is the job of the judicial branch of the government. Yet Hontiveros’s colleagues in Congress are seemingly in violation of this basic constitutional tenet, even going as far as suggesting — without proof — that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte “masterminds” the “daily carnage” of the on-going “war on drugs”…
Trillanes and detained Sen. Leila de Lima scoffed at President Duterte’s order for an investigation of the boy’s killing.
“The chief investigator and mastermind of the daily carnage ordering a probe into the Kian killing? What a farcical joke!” De Lima said in a statement.
Indeed, there is the irony in the way the Philippine Opposition dish out their shrill protests around the “trending” hashtag #JusticeForKian on social media, crying bloody “extrajudicial” this and “extrajudicial” that, even as their own leaders wantonly violate every basic step in criminal investigation due process.
It raises the question of whether the Opposition’s primary thesis against the Duterte government — that it is “authoritarian” in nature is even true to begin with. The fact is, there is no actual breakdown in state democratic functions at all. What seems to be the real bone of contention is whether or not Filipinos, as a people, are at their best when working within “democratic” frameworks. Stupid politicians — such as Hontiveros and her ilk — who, themselves, seem to lack a fundamental understanding of the very laws they supposedly create and maintain are, in fact, products of a currently-functional democracy.
If we break that function into its component parts, here is what we get:
1. Voters elect their executives and legislators.
2. Legislators craft/amend laws representing the interests of their constituents.
3. Executives implement and enforce these laws.
4. Voters review/evaluate outcomes/achivements coming out of (2) and (3).
5. On the basis of (4) determine of politicians are good or bad.
6. Goto (1)
Note in the above action/feedback loop how voters play a key role in ensuring that quality is an emergent property as their society cycles through each iteration of this process every several years. The democratic process already exists to support the above cycle. It is the quality of the input provided by Filipinos (via elections) that determines the quality of the products of this cycle. Government officials like Hontiveros, are the unfortunate products of this system.
Indeed, the “functioning state” exists both institutionally and in practice in the Philippines. And yet the outcomes remain dysfunctional.
So it seems the more confronting discussion should be around what an alternative definition for the notion of a “functioning state” could be. The Opposition insists that the definition should lie along the lines of it being “liberal democratic”. An alternative could be something more appropriate for an urgent need to temper the idiocy of the electorate and mitigation of the flawed thinking that prevails when their definition is in effect.
Funny enough, people like Risa Hontiveros who, according to the hymn book she sings off upholds “liberal democracy” are the ones who force Filipinos to question whether liberal democracy — as enshrined in the Yellowtard Constitution of 1987 — is actually the right system for Filipinos.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.