Supreme Court decision on Grace Poe’s candidacy is rational

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Grace Poe speaking as she announced her presidential candidacy. (courtesy of Philippine Star)

I have apologized everyone that this is my first blog post this month because for the past three weeks after the 30th anniversary of EDSA I Revolution, there were so much profund changes in our political landscape that would shape our country for next the years to come like the decision of the Supreme Court to affirm the presidential candidacy of Grace Poe, current senator and leading presidential candidate, despite oppositions from certain people ranging from different reasons like her naturalized American citizen or being a foundling.

I have decided to defer until at this point from making a blog post about the decision until I fully read the contents which I took for a week. Based on what I read on why the Supreme Court allowed her to continue her presidential candidacy were the following:

  1. Her natural-born status was presumed upon as our 1935 constitution – the constitution in force when she was born in 1968 – did not explicitly mention about foundlings although one of petitioners before the COMELEC First Division, Francisco Tatad argued that it meant to exclude foundlings like Poe using the rule of statutory constitution that what is not included is excluded. Our international laws, which we have been a signatory since the heydays of the enforcement of 1935 constitution, further treated foundlings like everybody else who have not been abandoned by their parents.
  2. Another fact from the residency issue was that it did not necessarily for her to be a Filipino citizen from the first day she reestablished her domicile in our country on May 24, 2005 and RA 9225 or law allowing dual citizenship for Filipino citizens permitted her to assume residency as a Filipino before she regained the citizenship on July 18, 2006 or more than a year later.
  3. Those who filed petitions to disqualify her forgot the fact that COMELEC did not have a jurisdiction in a petition for quo warranto against presidential and vice presidential candidates until they win in their respective positions. Thus, it committed a gross abuse of power in rendering decision which did not have a jurisdiction in the first place.

These three reasons aforementioned especially the last one are one of the obvious weaknesses to exclude Grace Poe from the presidential race via disqualification due to weaker understanding on the contexts of the framing of our 1935 constitution and subsequent statutes regarding natural-born requirement or residency of a Filipino citizen and being chained upon by the delusions of strict constitutionalism which deny the inevitable imperfections of a written constitution over time. In other words, they have forgotten that our constitution and statutes are living documents and interpretations vary depending on circumstances or situation changes.

Another fact that they have forgotten was the immediate and long-term repercussions of Grace Poe’s disqualification on the legitimacy of whosoever wins as president of our country. Since power emanates from the people, it would be impossible for someone’s authority to be respected by everyone if his/her opponent was robbed out of the presidency via disqualification or worse, electoral fraud; that was really happened under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency when her legitimacy issues never subsided despite of her election for her own presidential term in 2004 due to allegations of electoral fraud and months before the election, attempted disqualification of Grace Poe’s adoptive father based on similar citizenship issue she faced, 12 years later. The Supreme Court justices have been aware that implications and for me, it was a part of their discernment to allow Grace Poe to continue her presidential candidacy for the sake of future stability of our political system, regardless of whosoever wins the presidency. Although I used to be one of staunch opponents of Grace Poe’s candidacy based on residency issue alone, but I realized that I was wrong as I read the full decision and I think the Supreme Court made a rational decision on this landmark case and everyone of us should respect the decision, if you really care for the rule of law and the future stability of our country.

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Why CJ Renato Corona should be acquitted

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The defense team of CJ Renato Corona talking to each other during the oral arguments, 28 May 2012.

Yesterday, the defense and the prosecution team of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona gives their summary of arguments on whether the Chief Justice should be acquitted or convicted based on the evidences presented by both sides after more than four months of trial.

I am writing this blog entry to show my stand on this trial on whether the Chief Justice should be acquitted or convicted, I choose the former for this specific reasons according to the evidences presented and according to its legality or validity within the 1987 constitution.

First is that the non-disclosure of dollar deposits by the Chief Justice is not an impeachable offense because the RA 6426 or the Foreign Currency Deposits Act that secures the absolute confidentiality of a depositor from stating his/her dollar account to the SALN or Statements of Assets and Liabilities however that RA 6426 according to the prosecution or the CJ’s critics says that it is an unconstitutional because it contradicts on what the Article XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution states that:

Section 17. A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.

But these critics and the prosecution forgot on what it says on the last part of the paragraph on that section that states manner provided by law which a section of the constitution shall be supplemented by a statutory laws ratified by the Congress after 1987 or any statutory laws that was ratified before 1987 whether that certain law contradicts what a section of the constitution or not shall be still in force unless being superseded by a statutory law that conforms what in a section of the constitution says and in this case right now, the RA 6426 or Foreign Currency Deposits Acts was not superseded by any statutory law enacted by the Congress after 1987.

The prosecution through Rodulfo Fariñas said RA 6713, the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees clearly states that officials must declare “all other assets such as investments, cash at hand or in bank, stocks, bonds, and the like” however he and the prosecution team forgot that the previous law (RA 6426) imposes an absolute veil of confidentiality on foreign deposits that not even the Code of Conduct can force open therefore CJ Renato Corona is not liable because he believes in good faith on the absolute confidentiality of foreign deposits means that CJ Renato Corona merely follows on what the RA 6426 say and also the RA 6713 and that RA 6713 never really supersedes on what the absolute confidentiality provisions of RA 6426 says.

In conclusion, the Chief Justice Renato Corona never committed an impeachable offense like non-disclose of dollar accounts to his Statements of Assets and Liabilities or SALN as that action never really comply on what the 1987 Constitution says on valid cause for impeachment likeculpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust and also Renato Corona’s actions were guaranteed by a statutory law and therefore by the Constitution. Means that the Chief Justice Renato Corona should be acquitted.

The Supreme Court orders to compensate the Cojuangcos according to 1989 price

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld its November 2011 decision that just compensation for Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province should be pegged on the value of the estate in 1989, and not on a higher valuation based on 2006 prices sought by the Cojuangco family, owners of the sugar plantation.

The high court’s final and executory ruling did not encompass an actual price for the sugar estate, but militants placed the 1989 value of the 4,335-hectare Hacienda Luisita at P173 million.

SC Administrator Justice Midas Marquez said the 8-6 vote settled the issue of which property valuation to use–1989 or 2006–in paying the Cojuangcos for distributing the plantation to its 6,000 tenant farmers.

It was not an open-ended decision that would have given the Department of Agrarian Reform or a special agrarian court the final say on the issue of just compensation for the Cojuangcos, he said.

For me, this latest decision gives the Hacienda Luisita farmers their long-awaited justice of owning the land that should have been theirs a years ago but the owners, the Cojuangco family constantly disobey the agreement with the government of redistributing the Hacienda Luisita way back in 1968 when the Cojuangco family through Ninoy Aquino managed to maintain the Hacienda Luisita’s control to theirs in spite of an agreement ten years earlier. In 1980, Ferdinand Marcos ordered to redistribute the Hacienda Luisita but it was never materialized because of opposition from the Jose Cojuangco’s family side through Ninoy Aquino (his wife was a daughter of Jose Cojuangco, Sr.) then EDSA I Revolution came in 1986 that propelled Cory Aquino to the presidency. In 1987, a year after the EDSA I, some Hacienda Luisita farmers stromed into Mendiola in a protest with the simple goal of redistributing the Hacienda, but what happened? some of them were massacred by the police forces who guarded the Mendiola Bridge to prevent any protesters to strom Malacañang directly. That massacre haunted Cory Aquino’s reputation as a savior of all Filipinos forever and forces her to enact a watered down “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program” in 1988.

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program exempt the entire Hacienda Luisita from redistribution to the farmers by enacting and applying the option of “Stock Distribution Option” on which according to that provision, the farmers can own or have a part in Hacienda Luisita as stock holders however that’s not enough and in fact in spite of that, the Cojuangco family still considers them as a serf instead of a stock holder like in a typical business establishments as the Cojuangco family maintains the tight grip on ownership of the Hacienda.

Because of increasing poverty especially in the areas of Hacienda Luisita, the farmers decided to make a protest again to hear their plea for total ownership of a land they cultivated for many years in 2004 but what happened? like in Mendiola Massacre, 17 years earlier, some of the farmers were massacred allegedly with the direct order of the Cojuangco family. They were dispersed but their fight never stopped but instead that massacre encourage them to fight more for justifiable land distribution.

In November 2011, the Supreme Court ordered to redistribute the Hacienda Luisita once and for all with unanimous decision among the justices but it was not a final and executory. However, that decision seems to be unacceptable for the Cojuangco family of course as one of the members of their family, through the president Noynoy Aquino initiated a demolition job of destroying the pillar and integrity of the Supreme Court by impeaching the Chief Justice, Renato C. Corona with the alleged charges of unexplained wealth while he’s the Chief Justice and even before he took that position.

I hope that justice will be served once and for all and both sides should follow the Rule of Law whether the farmers or the Cojuangco family for the betterment of this country.