By DR. MICHAEL A. BENGWAYAN
There is reason to hope in this country again because of eight Justices of the Supreme Court who choose not to sell their country to the powers that be.
After Malacañang, the master of deception,robbed the country of the presidential election results, OFW funds, farmers’ fertilizer, retired government GSIS and soldiers retirement funds, it plotted to rob us of our Constitution, which is born from the bloodied streets of EDSA and out from resisting a dictatorship.
The administration dogs called it a “People’s Initiative (PI) “ but it was clearly a “Politician’s Initiative”, concocted by evil minds from Malacañang and the Congress.
The eight Supreme Court Justices, however, led by Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban cannot be conned. They saw through it and at high noon of memorable October 25, they shot the PI into doll rags. Into the hot dusty street. Right where it belonged.
From the steamy streets of Manila where an ordinary man ekes out a living selling taho (bean curd), to the rice fields of Cagayan where farmers have been cheated by Joc Joc Bolante and his boss in Malacañang, people rejoiced.
As ponente Justice Antonio Carpio in a 52 page decision wrote “This court exists to defend and protect the Constitution. To allow this constitutionally infirm initiative, propelled by deceptively gathered signatures, to alter basic principles in the Constitution is to allow a desecration of [it]. To allow such alteration and desecration is to lose this court’s raison d’être.”
According to the high court, the Sigaw/ULAP petition is “void and unconstitutional” because “it dismally fails to comply with the requirement of Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution that the initiative must be directly proposed by the people…” It noted that the proponents did not show the people the full text of the proposed amendments before asking them to sign the “signature sheet,” and said this “omission” was “fatal.”
“The signature sheets do not explain what specific amendments or revisions the initiative proponents want the interim Parliament to make, and why there is a need for such further amendments of revision. The people are again left in the dark to fathom the nature and effect of the proposed changes,” it said.
Among others, the tribunal found that it was not made clear to the signatories that they were agreeing to the lifting of the term limits of lawmakers, who will then become members of the Parliament to be “reelected indefinitely,” and that the election for the regular Parliament would be conducted during the 2007 local polls. It also found that the people were not told either that the amendment would “discriminate against the senators” who may not remain in office after June 30, 2010, if an election would not be held by then.
“Attorney Lambino and his group deceived the 6.3 million signatories, and even the entire nation,” the tribunal said, adding that the signatories only had to rely on his “verbal representations.” The result is a grand deception of the 6.3 million signatories… it said.
In previous three decisions, the Supreme Court led by Panganiban showed it cannot be bullied by Malacañang. It threw away Arroyo’s “calibrated preemptive response,” Executive Order 464 and Presidential Proclamation 1017, calling them unconstitutional.
It has proven once again that it is a pillar Filipinos can rely on. Although many have fallen prey to the amoral and opportunistic temptations, where might spells right, the eight justices turned their backs against the goddess of the Palace, and did not take a chance with the public, given the weary apathy we Filipinos have about public affairs.
While the 21st century ushered in new hopes for most of the world, we’ve found ourselves on a downward spiral. For many Filipinos, the solution has been disengagement, yes, a drastic uprooting. The ones who stay have become more and more apolitical, too busy trying to survive, searching for life, hopes pinned on putting children through school so they can leave.
Malacañang exploited people’s despair by offering a so-called people’s initiative that would lift the Filipinos from poverty. A socially engineered feat but was not able to get away with it.
After robbing us blind, trampling on every sense of decency and morality, these politicians now had the gall to tell us that their initiative would turn us around, get the economy going, build a strong republic.
It was not aware, that there are a few good men and women who will stand up against oppression and abuse. It was exactly that with the eight justices. They did not just stand by to see evil do its way. They deserve all praises and the Filipinos’ respect. #