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SET ruling not based on law but on politics

- Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) - November 18, 2015 - 9:00am

THE MAJORITY (5-4) decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal to throw out a petition to unseat Sen. Grace Poe for not being a natural-born Filipino as required by the Constitution appears to have been dictated not by law but by politics.

The petitioner Rizalito David, a defeated senatorial candidate in the 2013 election topped by Poe, should elevate the citizenship issue to the Supreme Court as soon as the SET ruling becomes final.

Citizenship is a matter of law and circumstance. And the law is what the Supreme Court says it is, not what politicians choose to say about their peers at the moment.

The public should be informed too that David’s petition against Poe is not a class suit against all foundlings and adopted children as Sen. Vicente Sotto III and PR handlers of Poe would want the public to think.

Even if they are the majority in the SET, politicians have no business inventing a new principle that when an international convention comes in conflict with the Constitution, the latter must bow to the former because a convention is superior.

Five senators in the SET hold the view that a convention to which the Philippines is not even a signatory can override a clear definition by the Constitution of who a natural-born Filipino citizen is.

• Screen bets against Constitution

THAT the candidate in question is saintly or oozing with good intentions is irrelevant in a disqualification case filed with an electoral tribunal on constitutional grounds.

The candidate challenged must first of all possess the basic qualifications set by the Charter, one of which is that he should be a natural-born Filipino if he is running for a national office.

All his virtues and impressive track record will be for naught if he does not first possess the basic constitutional qualifications.

The SET members who voted in favor of Poe were her fellow senators Sotto, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV. Only Cayetano is a lawyer.

Those who voted to disqualify her were the three SC members Senior Justice Antonio Carpio (SET chairman) and Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo Brion, and Sen. Nancy Binay.

• Transfer NAIA flights to Clark

THE HOLDING of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Metro Manila has drawn into sharper focus the neglected transportation system in the nation’s capital and resurrected the idea of using Clark International Airport as a twin international gateway.

Among the earliest proponents of the transfer of more flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark in Pampanga was former Rep. Renato V. Diaz, chairman of the advocacy group Center for Strategic Initiatives.

The congestion in NAIA has resulted in constant delays of flight services. The problem has grown more pronounced with the APEC arrivals, causing the cancellation for days of more than a thousand domestic and international flights.

This economic losses resulting from the cancellations and the dropping of bookings in tourism-related establishments is incalculable.

But even without APEC and its adverse impact on business, Diaz said it is imperative that the Department of Transportation and Communication and the Civil Aeronautics Board, where he once served for two years, should transfer many airline passenger and cargo flights to Clark.

He said the NAIA is already operating beyond its optimum capacity and no relief is in sight. Flights to Manila from the provinces are advised not to take off until the congestion eases, resulting in long delays and flight cancellations.

• Incentives for airlines to transfer

DIAZ said the DOTC should adopt the twin gateway system like most countries with even smaller population that the Philippines.  This means the international airline gateway would be both NAIA and Clark.

The government must tell airlines, which are public utilities, to transfer as many flights as possible to Clark now. This will bring about immediate results without any need for major infrastructure, because there is already a terminal in Clark. Building a new airport in Sangley, Cavite, will take several years, he added.

As a policy, Diaz said, the number of flights in NAIA should have a maximum limit per hour. Fees should be adjusted so that peak periods will be charged higher landing fees.  New slots needed can be purchased from current users.

Clark on the other hand can reduce fees or give incentives to airlines that will transfer now. Domestic carriers should be required to fly from Clark to all the major cities of the country.  This will boost domestic and international tourism.

• Market north of Manila is waiting

CHARTERED flights to tourism resorts in Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, et cetera, can get connecting flights in Clark.  Budget airlines can also schedule flights between 12 midnight to 3 a.m. to Clark from airports with night landing facilities.

The areas serviced by Clark airport comprise four regions: Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), Region 1 (Ilocos) and the Cordillera Autonomous Region.

Including Northern Metro Manila, such as Valenzuela, Malabon, Navotas and Northern Quezon City, the population base will be almost 25 million, or 25 percent of the national population.

People in these regions can fly out without passing through the traffic congestion of EDSA and C5. To passengers from Mindanao, Visayas and even Bicol, it would be more convenient to connect in Clark. Long haul flights can also take off from Clark with a full load of fuel and passenger cargo since it has the longest runway in the country.

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NB: Access past POSTSCRIPTs at www.manilamail.com. Follow us via Twitter.com/@FDPascual. Email us at dikpascual@gmail.com

 

ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION ASSOCIATE JUSTICES TERESITA LEONARDO CAGAYAN VALLEY CASTRO AND ARTURO BRION CLARK DIAZ FLIGHTS NBSP QUOT STRONG SUPREME COURT
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