Great Expectations

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Photo by Anton Sheker of Blogwatch.ph

It was a good start, as these things go. The air was festive at the site of the presidential inaugural ceremonies, in the sense that it felt like a campaign rally for Noynoy Aquino. The predominance of yellow was expected although still a bit grating to those of us who were not enamoured of the President to begin with.

The entertainment segment preceding the formal oath-taking was entertaining, although some elements were a bit off. Juana Change as mistress of ceremonies, removed from the context of anti-government rallies, looked lost, fat and freakish. The songs were rehashes of campaign ditties with a few revisions to make them more “inclusive”. There was an earnest attempt to give life to a theme of reconciliation but it was still sounded and felt like a victory party for President Noynoy. Fair enough. He won and is now the Head of State.

P-Noy looked embarrassed at times at the outpouring of love and acclamation. Jojo Binay looked alternately bored and annoyed, slumped next to his boss, but came to life when it was his turn to take the oath of office. The foreign dignitaries looked bemused and bewildered at all the hoopla. Erap Estrada looked pensive, maybe looking back at the many lost opportunities. Kris Aquino appeared troubled but the rest of the Aquino sisters were glowingly beautiful. Chief Justice Renato Corona was putting a good face to an awkward situation. Continue reading “Great Expectations”

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Noynoy Aquino and the Rule of Law

Talking to reporters during his retirement ceremony yesterday, outgoing Chief Justice Reynato Puno commented on the refusal of president-elect Noynoy Aquino to take his oath of office before the incoming Chief Justice, Renato Corona. C.J. Puno said that Mr. Aquino should “respect the rule of law” in answer to a question regarding Aquino’s plan of being sworn in by a yet unnamed barangay captain in Tarlac province. This as a way of snubbing GMA’s choice of Puno’s successor, a “midnight appointee” from Noynoy’s point of view. Even though the Supreme Court was nearly unanimous (Justice Carpio-Morales dissented) in declaring that the president “has an imperative duty under the Constitution to fill up the vacancies” in the S.C. even if she is set to leave in a few weeks, delicadeza be damned.

To be sure, there is nothing in the Constitution or the law which would compel Noynoy to take his oath of office before the Chief Justice. All that is required is that the person be authorized to administer oaths. For this purpose, a barangay head would be as good as any justice.

But tradition is sometimes weightier than the the letter (or non-letter) of the law. Only two past Philippine presidents (Quezon and Osmena) were not sworn into office by the Philippine C.J., during the commonwealth and war periods. All post-independence presidents took their office of office before the Chief Justice. The reason is simple: this is a recognition of the separation of powers between the three main branches of government and an acknowledgment of the respect and deference due the leader of a supposedly co-equal branch. Although in reality, an imperial presidency trumps both the legislature and judiciary in terms of actual power and prestige. Continue reading “Noynoy Aquino and the Rule of Law”

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After Automated Elections, You Can’t Go Home Again

An air of excited expectancy was palpable in our neighborhood this morning. There was a feeling that the day ahead would be full of surprises, hopefully not unpleasant. We live right across a voting precinct and the place was abuzz with activity the past few days. The poll personnel and volunteers were there a full two hours before the voting was to officially start, although the cops and military who were guarding the place were camped out days before.

As always, it’s a chaotic process: long queues, inaccurate voters’ lists, the confused electorate mingling (and occasionally tangling) with the frazzled election officials, shady characters working for the various candidates hovering in the sidelines. A crazy stew exacerbated by the steamy summer heat.

But after you get through the long lines, the voting itself is relatively quick and painless. Simple, fast and apparently transparent. The PCOS machines, at least where we voted, worked wonderfully. I saw smiling faces leaving the polling place. Even the police looked relaxed and happy. Or maybe it’s just me feeling good about politics for the first time in a very long while. Continue reading “After Automated Elections, You Can’t Go Home Again”

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