Stop The Bickering Please

I wish for the sake of the nation they would kiss and make up.

I am not referring to Noy and Shalani.

I am referring to Noy and the Supreme Court.

The relationship first soured when Chief Justice Corona refused to give up his post following his controversial appointment by GMA. It has been downhill from there.

A disproportionate number of Presidential Executive Orders are pending with the Court: EO 1 creating the Truth Commission, EO2 removing Gloria’s midnight appointees, EO3 revoking GMA’s directive giving government lawyers the rank of career service officer; and EO7 suspending the special perks of GOCC officials.

The Court has ordered a status quo ante restraining the House Justice Committee from continuing impeachment proceedings against the Ombudsman Gutierrez. This is technically an issue between Congress and the Court but Malacañang has a vested interest in it.

The Court rejected the Government’s request that the Ampatuan trial be televised.

P-Noy tested the Court’s (and Congress’) jurisdiction when he announced his Government would circumvent any adverse SC decision on payment of user fees on infrastructure projects.

P-Noy has openly sided with the 37 UP law school faculty in the plagiarism case against Assc. Justice del Castillo: “Those in high positions should not intimidate or threaten persons who freely want to come out with the truth.” Hurtful words to Justices tasked with protecting freedom of expression.

For its part, the Judiciary has threatened to take a leave of absence complaining the Administration is only allocating it 60% of its rightful budget.

The disputes between the three branches of Government ultimately revolve around privilege: What is Executive, what is Judicial and what is Legislative privilege.

The conundrum is that while the three branches are co-equal, the Court is more equal than the others in the determination of territorial limits. It is, effectively, the final arbiter.

How does one break the impasse that is restraining this nation? How does one persuade the parties to come together without triggering a constitutional crisis?

Here are some suggestions:

1. A committee of elders should be formed to talk to the leaders of the three branches of Government- Ex-President Ramos, former Chief Justice Panganiban, and some respected members of the community could be among them. Their mandate: To appeal to these leaders’ higher selves  to work for the greater good.

2. Set some common sense rules- One, the Executive branch should have the authority to hire and fire and set benefits of its officials. The Government needs this to run its business. Two, the Judiciary should be given a budget commensurate with its importance. The Administration’s power over the purse should not be used as a threat for the Court to heel.
Three, the Supreme Court should be cognizant of the good the Administration is trying to achieve. At the same time, the latter should not take every Court denial as an affront on its manhood. There may be real legal impediments or the Government’s petitions may be deficient.

3. Stop the mudslinging- The parties should stop airing their dirty linen in public. Particularly, each Office should refrain from commenting on issues that are not within its domain. In this sense, much as he or the rest of us feel about it, P- Noy’s tirade against the Court on the plagiarism case was uncalled for.

4. Be proactive and work smart-Inter-branch conflicts should be resolved expeditiously and in good faith. If there are technical concerns, there should be suggestions, expressed privately, on how to overcome them.
At the same time, the Executive needs to work smart. First, it needs to polish its EO’s and pleadings so they pass muster. Second, it must be imaginative. If it cannot dismiss midnight appointees for legal technicalities, then it should use its vast “powers of persuasion” – tax audits, administrative investigations- towards its purpose. It should not risk a legal challenge if it does not have to.

The Administration and the SC are at loggerheads threatening the progress of this nation.

Filipinos want this bickering to stop. They expect their leaders to be of high and of common purpose. There are enough problems without the shameful spectacle of two branches of Government going at each other. If there are professional differences, we want them quickly resolved. We are all in this together.

As for any personal issues between Aquino and Corona, take them outside.

There is a country to be run.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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