Never again
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2018 - 12:00am

Posted in the social media is a news item about the abolition of Congress. What’s so troubling about this news is that the proposal is coming from Malacanang itself through Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo who is supposed to be a lawyer and thus knows our laws.

The proposal is really quite alarming because it can be considered or is presumed to have been cleared with Duterte. Of course it may also be without any such clearance yet as Panelo may just be “testing the waters” trying to find out the peoples’ reaction to such plan. But people cannot still help but conclude that it must have come from, or cleared by, Duterte himself considering that Panelo’s function is precisely to speak for Duterte and his administration. Hence it is logical to assume that Panelo’s statement on this subject is the official stand of Malacanang.

From the practical point of view, people actually welcome or accept such proposal considering the reason behind it as declared by Panelo. Through all these years indeed since we became an independent Republic, the existing Congress entails a lot of expenses and thus dissipate so much taxpayers’ money compared to the quality or even quantity of the legislative product coming out of the legislative mill. But worse still is that a particular bill will have to be studied and discussed by the two houses of Congress before it can be passed and enacted into law. And even worst is that oftentimes the proposed law coming out of the two chambers are different thus necessitating the creation of a bicameral assembly to reconcile the two versions for approval of both houses. So much time, money and human efforts are spent and wasted before a law is finally approved. The set-up and process in Congress have indeed caused a lot of people to propose its abolition.

But Panelo’s proposal is easier said than done. Every citizen of this Republic knows that our government is under the rule of law and not of men. So government officials derive their authority given them by law. And this authority is also defined by law and continues only with the consent of the people because the “Philippines is a democratic and republican state where sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them (Article II, Section 1, 1987 Constitution).”

And since Congress or the Legislative Department is created by the Constitution it can only be abolished by revising or amending the Constitution through Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members, or a Constitutional Convention called by Congress by a vote of two thirds of all its members or by the people themselves as authorized by majority of the members of Congress. Such amendment shall be valid only when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days or later than ninety days after their approval (Article XVII, Sections 1 to 4, 1987 Constitution).

It is thus quite clear that abolition of Congress is valid and legal only if it is done in the manner provided by our Charter. Any student of law knows this. All the more should Panelo know this especially because he is a lawyer already who acted even as counsel of Duterte. Yet by the tenor of his latest statement on this matter, he sounded as if such abolition can be done by Duterte himself, as President and Chief Executive. In fact, Panelo was even hinting of a “one-man rule” when he made such proposal. He appears to be laying the groundwork for the proclamation of martial law throughout the Philippines, by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In this connection he must be reminded again that if Duterte proclaims martial law, he must submit a report of such proclamation to Congress, personally or in writing, and Congress may revoke it by a joint vote of a majority of all its members. Furthermore, the Supreme Court may also review the sufficiency of the factual basis of such proclamation in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen (Section 18, Article VII, 1987 Constitution).

But it appears that all this process will be disregarded. All signs indicate that Duterte may duplicate the move of Marcos and impose a one-man rule once more. It is quite imminent that we will be experiencing the same style of dictatorial regime that we have undergone from 1972 to 1986. Considering that Duterte himself has openly admitted that he is a Marcos admirer and he likes his style of governance under a one-man rule, it is inevitable that the “Marcos martial law regime” will be back again. One of the most unforgettable aspects of such regime was actually the illegal accumulation of so much unexplained wealth because of the concentration of power in Marcos and his family especially his wife Imelda Marcos. Such a situation actually caused a lot of businessmen to be as close to Marcos and take advantage of such connection in order to loot our country’s rich resources and lucrative businesses that gave rise to an anomalous relationship known as “cronyism” where the rich became richer and the poor became poorer.

In fact at this stage of Duterte’s rule, “cronies” are once again emerging.  Dennis Uy, a businessman and known supporter of Duterte in Davao came out as the winner of the bidding to supply telecommunication services through his Udenna Corp. and its subsidiary, Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. in partnership with China Telecommunications Corp., a state-owned telecommunications firm from China. They edged out three other Filipino groups which had earlier submitted its formal offers.

During Marcos time, cronyism thrived because no one can complain under the one-man rule. After his downfall, people firmly and resolutely declared that “never again” will such kind of regime be allowed. Hopefully, such declaration has not been forgotten.

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