After reading ABS-CBN reporter Raissa Robles’s monumental quibble over the letters of the Law surrounding President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s national beef with Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, I must say, I simply have to give her a salute. I salute her because despite her own admission that the notion of the Rule of Law gives her the shivers, she really did quite a bit of research on the matter. Indeed, commenters on her blog couldn’t stop gushing about the extent of her “research” — though most of them stop short of pointing out what specifically about her research they are singing praises about.
Much of the article was about the Supreme Court’s evvvviiiiillll track record of cleverly stretching its interpretation of the Law during the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos in order to further the strongman’s agenda. In Robles’s words, “once upon a time, the SC invoked THE RULE OF LAW to perpetuate a repressive regime” which is the foundation upon which she nurses her very personal pathological cringe over the notion of the Rule of Law.
Hey, fine. So Ms Raissa Robles does not like The Rule of Law — which, I suppose, makes her deep-dive foray into the subject of The Law in her article all the more remarkable. If she wants to be an intellectual masochist about it, then we may as well enjoy the read.
But the interesting part of her article is not about the SC’s track record during the Marcos regime. Using the SC under Marcos as a “context” for evaluating today’s head-on between Noynoy and Corona is an Apples-to-Oranges exercise at best. Non sequitur. Does not follow.
So let’s ignore that part of the piece (with sincere consideration for the painful time Robles must have spent “researching” that chunk) and check out the epicentre of Robles’s argument which I itemo-paraphrase into a handful of easy-to-read points (so that at least I make it easy for my commenters to be a bit more specific when they raise a toast to the brilliance of this article).
Robles points out that…
(1) The Constitution is quite specific about the timeframe of and circumstances surrounding any late-term appointments by a President or Acting President; however,
(2) It also specifically stipulates that this guideline covers appointments to executive positions; which means that,
(3) That clause is silent on “appointments to judicial positions.”
Having established that there was a gaping loophole, Robles then expresses a lament over the lack in the national charter of a similar clause that outright stipulates the same thing referring specifically to judicial positions — a gap she reports was highlighted by Justice Lucas Bersamin, who “penned the decision favoring Arroyoâ€™s interpretation.”
Amazingly (understandably miffed by the above stroke of genius interpretation on Bersamin’s part), Robles finds herself (perhaps after an equally monumental effort to trawl the entire text of the Constitution) a snippet that she uses to make what she herself describes as an “absurd” case that Arroyo was an “illegitimate President” to begin with — the fourth point she makes:
(4) Using Bersamin’s approach to interpreting the law, we can argue Arroyo’s illegibility to be President by virtue of “Section 2â€ which states that “No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines” [Robles's boldface]; on grounds that the Law is silent on females (because only a “he” is stipulated in the text).
Robles is, in effect, throwing a tantrum. And she is crying out this rhetorical question: How come the SC can rule one way on account of one loophole in the Law, but ignore a similar gap in another section of the Constitution?
The answer to that question is quite simple:
Because the Supreme Court is the Supreme Court.
The job of the SC is to make a ruling on the Law. And it can consider a case brought to its attention by all Filipino citizens, including those who serve the Executive and Legislative branches.
Ms Raissa Robles (perhaps funded by MalacaÃ±ang) could file a case with the aim to void the entire presidency of Arroyo just to make her point. She should do so. After all, she found a clause in the Constitution that provides the foundation for such a case.
That is the procedure, Ms Robles. The Law Rules. So invoking that clause is a real option, just like the option to exercise the silence of the Law on appointments to the judicial positions was taken by Bersamin. But, see, Bersamin is a Justice in the SC. Perhaps, again as Robles herself admits, if she weren’t “just” an English major and was instead a “far wiser” justice of the SC, then she would have access to that option too.
Tough luck, Ms Robles. As John Mason (played by the venerable Sean Connery) quipped in the excellent movie The Rock…
Losers always whine about [doing] their best. Winners go home and f**k the prom queen.
As to Robles’s exposÃ© on the salary the Chief Justice’s wife earned as president of John Hay Management Corporation as well as her being an “Arroyo” appointee to that job which she adds in closing her article, I fail to see how this is related to the context she frames and the points she makes in her article. Then again, her bringing it up follows the same style of appeal-to-indignation-by-litany-of-disjoint-examples that characterises Noynoy’s speeches. It figures, doesn’t it?
But hey, Robles says that last “interesting” factoid was just something she just “stumbled” upon. Fair enough. I’m not about to speculate on whether this was indeed something she merely “stumbled” upon or really the result of sleepless nights spent on the Net (or phoning her informants) digging up dirt on the Chief Justice. Robles is a “reporter” after all.
Any schmoe can dig up “facts.” But what separates the men from the boys is the ability to connect the dots that represent those “facts” to form a truly insightful picture of what is real.