Sunday, June 4, 2017

Constitutional Crisis

IN THE current political situation a constitutional crisis is possible only if one or two branches of government intentionally disobey a final ruling of the Supreme Court.

I refer to the Mindanao-wide martial law declaration.

The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutional and legal issues.

The Executive and the Legislative are mandated by the Constitution to respect the Supreme Court's independent "power of judicial review".

The Judiciary is a co-equal and independent branch of government.

The doctrine of "separation of powers" maintains the stability of the constitutional concept of "check and balance" among the three co-equal and independent branches of government.

The Executive controls the armed forces.

It is the branch of government that executes the laws.

It assists court sheriffs in executing judicial decisions.

The Supreme Court's "power of judicial review" includes the power to annul acts of the Executive and the Legislative committed with "grave abuse of discretion."

The Constitution vests in the Supreme Court the power to review the factual basis or rationale for a declaration of martial law.

A citizen may commence such a review process by filing the proper petition with the Supreme Court. The Court must resolve the petition within thirty days.

Note that the Lower House has refused to convene a "joint plenary session" of Congress to deliberate on the martial law report of the Executive.

The Lower House has reneged on its constitutional duty to review the declaration in a joint plenary session with the Senate.

Worse, the Senate has agreed with the stand of the Lower House.

Both chambers have railroaded their respective resolutions. With inordinate speed they have separately expressed their full support to the declaration.

The two chambers are controlled by the political coalition of the Executive.

The Executive and the Legislative have conspired with each other to abruptly clothe the declaration with the color of constitutional authority.

They have deprived the country of the benefit of access to the truth.

Congress refused to convene a joint plenary session to put on record their collective deliberation.

A citizen may invoke the constitutional power of judicial review of the Supreme Court to nullify the foregoing acts of the Legislative.

The said acts of Congress were tantamount to a void waiver of a mandatory constitutional process and a gross dereliction of a mandatory constitutional duty.

Acting on the citizen's suit, the Supreme Court may give the Legislative an opportunity to correct itself. The Court may order Congress to conduct a joint plenary session.

In such a case, the Supreme Court may defer its conduct of an independent review of the declaration.

In the alternative, the Supreme Court may nullify the foregoing acts of the Legislative, conduct its own review of the factual basis of or rationale for the declaration, and nullify or affirm it.

If the Supreme Court nullifies the declaration, there being no sufficient factual basis or rationale to justify the same -- tainted with "grave abuse of discretion" -- the Executive and the Legislative are constitutionally bound to respect the adverse ruling of the Court.

If the Executive ignores the decision of the Supreme Court, a "constitutional crisis" ensues.

The Legislative is expected to support the Executive in such a crisis.

The Judiciary would be helpless.

It is the "weakest branch of the government".

It has no military and police might of its own to enforce it judgments.

The constitutional disobedience on the part of the Executive would be an impeachable offense.

The political impeachment process is the sole constitutional prerogative of the Legislative.

Being in conspiracy with the Executive, the Legislative is not expected to impeach and remove the Executive from office.

The constitutional crisis is thus aggravated.

How is it resolved? Who resolves it?

"Sovereignty" resides in the Filipino people.

All governmental authority emanates from the sovereign Filipino people.

This is an elementary constitutional principle.

The sovereign Filipino people may resolve the constitutional crisis.

"Self-determination" is an inherent and natural right of the sovereign Filipino people.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the "protector of the sovereign Filipino people", as enshrined in the Constitution.

The military is not the private army of the Executive as the Commander-in-Chief.

The ultimate loyalty of the military belongs to the sovereign Filipino people.

The military may intervene to enforce the sovereign will of the people, restore peace and order, preserve Philippine Democracy, and insure the adherence to the Constitution.

The military may forcibly remove the Executive from office. It can be bloody.

It is an extra-constitutional removal process.

The Executive is expected to use his Presidential Security Command and the mass base of his political coalition to save his throne.

A civil war ensues.

At the very least, the military may "withdraw its support" from the Executive. The latter may peacefully "resign." Civil War is averted.

What if the military is corrupted and opts to side with the abusive and authoritarian Executive?

A full-blown violent dictatorship is born.

It takes the form of a "revolutionary government" or a "junta" under a dictator.

The Constitution becomes a mere scrap of paper.

The Dictator is the Constitution. He is the Law.

The powers of the three branches of the government are fused into his personality.

The Legislative is closed. The Judiciary is abolished.

The military becomes his private army.

Democracy dies.

The dark, corrupt and brutal history of the Marcosian dictatorship repeats itself.

It is a horrible and abhorrent nightmare.

Pray that our contemporary history would be enlightened and bloodless.

- Atty. Manuel J. Laserna Jr.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II says if military courts can be set up if civilian courts in areas where there is martial law can no longer function. A...