Thursday, November 17, 2011

Constitutional crisis brewing in the Philippines as Aquino Government defies Supreme Court ruling

Legal expert Fr Joaquin G. Bernas SJ speaks out about the travel ban implemented by the Philippine Government on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) in a piece dated the 17th Nov 2011:
By this morning, however, it became evident that the nonreception of the official copy of the [temporary restraining order (TRO) against the travel ban] was not the real reason [GMA was not allowed to leave the country]. The justice secretary [Leila De Lima] simply does not want to lift the ban.
What I seem to be seeing in all these and in some public reaction is that anger and hatred of GMA has taken over and reason seems to be consigned to the sidelines. That this seems to affect even the highest executive authorities is a sad, sad thing.

The Editor in an article published on the same date, on the other hand, thinks that the fundamental issue is that the Supreme Court is a rigged branch of the Philippine Government...
But it does not help that the Supreme Court, or at least its current configuration, hardly carries the weight of unassailability. It is this less than solid reputation that leads the attentive observer to conclude that the 8-5 vote that produced the TRO merely proved the wisdom of packing the high court with one’s appointees—for that foreseeable future when one is forced to call in favors.

...and that the real aspect to guide the actions of our leaders should be one that is political...
The overweening issue is credibility, or lack thereof, and it’s too bad that the Supreme Court has come up squarely against it in issuing the TRO favoring the Arroyos. A functioning government requires an unassailable arbiter. Certain legal eagles contend that the high court’s action should have estopped De Lima from keeping the couple on the watch list. But the justice secretary, herself no slouch in law, appears bent on pushing the envelope in order to protect the justice department’s power to prosecute crime.

But then as consultant Ben Kritz observes...
The uproar over the uncharged and unconvicted former President Arroyo’s being prevented from leaving the country for medical treatment has finally shaken at least a part of this country out of its torpor to realize there is something very undemocratic and very wrong with the way President Aquino is discharging his office.

... which, like the good Fr Bernas's noise-reduced take on the matter is consistent with what the rest of the world sees as a simple issue:

From CNN; 16 Nov 2011:
Former Philippines President Gloria Arroyo was stopped from boarding a plane at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport Tuesday, hours after the country's Supreme Court overruled government-imposed restrictions on her travels.

From The New York Times; 15 Nov 2011:
The Philippine government blocked former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband from leaving the country on Tuesday despite a Supreme Court order that allowed them to travel abroad for her medical treatment.

From The Washington Post; 15 Nov 2011
But [Philippine Supreme Court] justices voted 8-5 on Tuesday to issue a temporary restraining order [on the travel ban imposed by MalacaƱang] allowing Arroyo to seek treatment for a bone ailment, court spokesman Midas Marquez said.

“They are free to exercise their constitutional rights,” Marquez said, adding that the government could be cited for contempt.

He said the Arroyos complied with court conditions for travel by posting a bond of 2 million pesos ($46,000) and appointing legal representatives to receive any court summonses. They were also ordered to report to Philippine embassies or consulates in countries they visit.

Not surprisingly a "constitutional crisis" is currently brewing according to a report from The Wall Street Journal...
The Philippines is facing a drama-laden constitutional crisis as former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo attempts to leave the country to seek medical treatment after the Supreme Court allowed her to travel despite the government's claims that the former leader might not return to face a corruption investigation.

The world is watching...


  1. If the Philippines is truly "a government of laws and not by men" then Former President Arroyo should be allowed to leave the country and seek medical treatment abroad. The highest court of the land has spoken and we should abide by it as embodied in the constitution.

  2. Filipinos has only one country, the leaders should start implementing reforms for the upliftment of all sectors of society.

  3. what is the sitting president doing with this. Another call for leadership like Hong Kong Bus killings. When all is done, he will came out with a funny smile assessing things that happen. Which he will say they can do it with his full support. Ask Kris Aquino instead, they might have a better insight of the Aquino governance.

  4. Two days ago, justice and the rule of law died in the country. We should pray that God will heal our fragmenting nation. The bedrock of every nation is the rule of law and not of men. Let us also pray that those whom He has entrusted with power should not abuse it. What is justice without compassion?

  5. As an ordinary citizen watching the going ons on television, I shuddered at the very sight of the Secretary of Justice lecturing on the Supreme Court! What's going on with the country? There seems to be a presentiment of incompetence, disregard for the rule of law and very high degree of self righteousness! Heaven help us!
    I commend the take of Senators Escudero, Santiago and Recto on the subject! Senator Arroyo has read the writing on the wall. May God help us.