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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Desperately Seeking Noynoy

More than six months ago I wrote a post on how Noynoy Aquino lacks substance. Nothing that has happened since has changed my view. If anything, I feel stronger than ever that he is just not the right person to lead this country for the next six years.

Though I have to admit is it’s not hard to like the guy. He’s a decent and well-mannered fellow. Noynoy’s like a buddy from high school who you may not have seen for a number of years but you instantly feel at ease with if you unexpectedly bump into each other. The kind of guy you want to have coffee with or knock down a few beers while watching the latest Pacquiao fight.

But as the next Philippine president ? The prospect makes me very uneasy. Considering his undistinguished public life, no one can deny that he has gotten to where he is solely because he is Ninoy and Cory’s only son. The presumption being that since his parents were historical giants, their progeny will prove to be noble and outstanding as well. History has proven that this is not necessarily so, Gloria Arroyo being the most obvious example. As is Noynoy’s sister, Kris. Continue reading “Desperately Seeking Noynoy”

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