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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The Villar Conundrum

Do you trust Manny Villar (to be the next president of the Philippines) ?

The answer to this question is the stumbling block of the Villar campaign and must keep the candidate awake most nights. That many Filipinos are undecided, at best, about how they would reply if asked is why Villar trails at the polls, albeit closely nipping at the heels of Noynoy.

He certainly has a reputation for being an astute, even ruthless, businessman. This is partly because an instinctive mistrust of the very wealthy. He could not have gotten his fortune without having done something bad, the thinking goes. But this only accounts for a small percentage of his detractors.

The main reason is that he has more than a few skeletons rattling in his closet, the scariest being the C-5 scandal. Thus, despite all the money and effort poured into his run he has to play catch-up in the homestretch. And why the smear campaign about his being “Villaroyo” has taken its toll.

But Villar also has a lot of things going for him, which is why he has a good chance of defeating Noynoy Aquino and his fearsome yellow army. And I don’t mean just his money. At a certain point in the election (and I believe this point has been reached), money becomes less important. All the money in the world will not get you elected if you’re truly unelectable. Cash becomes critical as election day nears only as a means of ensuring the party machinery is kept well greased and to keep your capos and foot soldiers happy and motivated on the day itself. You will need warm bodies and money to safeguard your vote. On this score I believe Noynoy and Villar have achieved a rough parity. Continue reading “The Villar Conundrum”

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Noynoy Aquino Lacks Substance

As of now.

Ask yourself, how well do you know him ? His advocacies ? What issues are he passionate about ? Like me, I suspect that most people would draw a blank when asked about Noynoy Aquino, apart from the fact that he is the only son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino.

Noynoy himself, and his handlers, have not been shy about playing the Ninoy-Cory card. Says Liberal Party 2010 campaign manager Florencio “Butch” Abad: “Senator Aquino will not turn his back on the legacy of his parents”. In a press conference prior to his going on a weekend retreat do seek divine guidance for his political plans, Noynoy said “yes” when asked if he would carry on the fight started by his parents. What this “fight” is all about in concrete terms, he does not say although he can be rather smug about his legacy. Says he: “We enjoy popular support all these years because we reflect the interest of freedom-loving Filipinos.

But if his main selling point is his parentage, wouldn’t we be better off with Kris Aquino, who is undoubtedly more popular and has lived a more drama-filled life than her bland and balding brother ? It would certainly make for a more interesting campaign, at the very least. Continue reading “Noynoy Aquino Lacks Substance”

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