Step up: all in

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By Atty. Taipan Millan

One Small Voice

Thursday, July 17, 2014

THIS is not about the DAP: whether it is good, whether it is bad, whether it is legal, whether it is moral, or whatever it may be or maybe not.

This is about the independence of the judiciary, period. Here, there can be no question marks, at least insofar as the President is concerned. If at all, there can only be exclamation points, also insofar as the President is concerned.

But, as we by now all know, this is just not to be.


When the Supreme Court came out with its unanimous decision to declare the DAP as unconstitutional, save for one vote considered as an abstention by one who took no part in the proceedings, the President retreated but only to gain speed to come out swinging, lashing and thrashing.

The people expected some sort of a clarification, an explanation, or a justification. Anything, really, along the lines of how to solve the problem, or how to proceed to the next step, or how to somehow keep the peace.

Shocked, and this is more of an understatement rather than an exaggeration, is what the people felt even when the President was not yet finished with his previously-announced, nationally-televised, and war-mongering speech.

Then came another press conference, and with it, new calls.

If the President had only discussed the DAP, as much as he wanted, as often as he could, but always ends with the fact of filing a Motion for Reconsideration as due process allows and provides, then we may still be debating about good, about bad, about legality, about morality, and about impacts, and about effects.

But, as we by now all know, this is just not to be.

If the President really believed, in good faith, that the DAP had a solid legal basis, then there would not have been any need to resort to tactics other than legal.

First, in not so many words, there was a threat of possible impeachment raps to be initiated by the other independent branch of government.

Second, without waiting for more than a day to pass, the Judiciary Development Fund has been directed to be audited by a constitutional commission.

Third, as if impeachment raps and an audit were not enough, there is then a move to repeal the law creating the Judiciary Development Fund.

Fourth, when many of the actions and events surrounding the issue could just have been accomplished or conducted without a blow-by-blow coverage by the media, the opposite of full, complete and unlimited coverage by the media was not only allowed but was more like solicited.

Fifth, as if all the statements were not enough, a call was made to wear yellow ribbons to show support for the President, and by implication, to signify defiance against the Supreme Court.

This is not to say that all these cannot be done by a free people in a democratic country.

This is just to say that there is a marked difference between ordinary citizens expressing their sentiments and the President using the full force, power and might of his office to influence the decision of the Supreme Court, and failing in this, to discredit its credibility.

This is not to say that we should all have blind faith on the pronouncements of our institutions.

This is just to say that the President, who swore to preserve and defend the Constitution, and execute its law, which necessarily includes the hallmark principle of checks and balances, of the separation of powers of the three branches of government who are supreme in their respective spheres, may be argued to have practically violated his oath by his statements and by his actions.

This is not to say that each one of us should start wearing yellow ribbons, peach ribbons, black ribbons, or any other color of ribbons.

This is just to say that we should all rally behind the flag, not just one of its colors; and protect our institutions, not just the personalities who happen to be at the helm at the moment; and obey the supreme law of the land, not just those provisions that may be beneficial, convenient or easy.

We, the people, have to start thinking, and analyzing, and acting, and getting involved, not only with regards to the DAP which is just one program, but more importantly with regards to the independence of the judiciary and all our supposedly independent institutions.

We, the people, have to do our share in nation-building, not in mere partisanship.

We, the people, have to step up: all in.


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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 18, 2014.


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