Apples and oranges ...and lemons
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - July 27, 2019 - 12:00am

When mayors/governors jump the fence from local to national, there is the inevitable culture shock. Specially so when the shift is from executive to legislative work. A local chief executive is a policy implementor. Urgent, immediate and independent action, 24/7, are his comfort zone. He trades this away for the deliberate, collegial and measured steps of the policy maker once he joins Congress. With the three-day weeks and matching constitutionally mandated recesses of the Legislative life, the downshift can be unsettling. 

Former Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte doesn’t have fond memories of his time as a Congressman (1998-2001). The Davao City man of action found the House and its sessions “boring”. 

We get it. We are seeing today an epidemic of executive action in our cities and municipalities. Manila, as capital city, and the other LGUs of Metro Manila are at the aegis. It is a revival not just of physical appearance. The governance coverage is diverse: the gamut of road clearing, anti-corruption, respect for workers’ rights, animal welfare, social amelioration, to name a few. It is, simultaneously, a renewal of the spirit. Constituents are rediscovering the possibilities they’d been conditioned to forget. And its never boring!

In the Senate, Imee Marcos was a former governor. Francis Tolentino was a former mayor and MMDA chairman. Senior Senator Richard Gordon was a mayor and SBMA chairman. Senator Gordon’s independence and imperiousness do surface. On the whole, however, people appreciate how he uses them in aid of legislation. We anticipate how Senators Marcos and Tolentino will adjust to their new roles. If they get bored, we hope it doesn’t get in the way of their being productive.

Where Manila goes … We wrote before about the Fantastic Four of Metro Manila and how they respected the cursus honorum. In Manila, we noted how our young mayor began at the bottom, starting as city councilor. Even House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was a municipal councilor. So were President Manuel Roxas and Senate President Ernesto Maceda. In the Senate, Francis Pangilinan was a former Quezon City councilor.

The Manila City Council has actually become prolific in this administration with a bumper crop of leaders in the great branches. Four of Manila’s six congressmen are former city councilors. Bienvenido Abante of the 6th district, is the House minority leader. Rep. Abante is the first Manila congressman to ever hold the post. In the Executive branch, two former Manila councilors, father and son, are team players of our President with critical roles. Grepor Belgica is the presidential adviser for religious affairs. His son, Greco Belgica is a commissioner at the Presidential Anti Corruption Commission. Over at the Judiciary, former Manila councilor and incumbent Court of Appeals Justice Jhosep Lopez is on the short list to replace retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo. 

The last word. The President permitted the Chinese to fish in the waters of our Exclusive Economic Zone. With no formal record of that verbal exchange with President Xi and no Senate participation as required by the Constitution for international agreements, we are again courting Judicial intercession to set us straight.

When we hear the familiar refrain that “the President is the sole organ or principal architect of foreign policy,”  we know that PRRD had again gone solo on a decision with international implications. You’d think it an immutable principle that this sphere of international relations is exclusive to the President. This is what jurisprudence has led us to believe. But there is, in fact, no textual basis in the Constitution for reducing the foreign relations power simply to presidential discretion. 

Yet the melody survives as only tentative responses have come from the Legislature through the years. The formulation of foreign policy is a matter that is rightly shared between both branches. Just like any other policy, principal authorship should be with the elected representatives while the President stands as implementor. It is not our intention nor is it to our best interest that one man have the monopoly of decision making when it comes to our dealings with foreign nations. 

We should be hearing defiant voices from our senators. Jealous defense of prerogatives is the healthier posture for a branch that is conscious of its co-equal stature. This is what we expect and what we deserve. That agreement to fish, written or verbal, should have been Senate stamped. Its does not pertain to mere detail or implementation particulars of a previously approved treaty. Yet we are seeing Senate neophytes surrendering this fundamental prerogative without pause, indifferent to how this weakens their institutional position and, ultimately, our own position in the end.

Pride central. In golf, our junior athletes continue to stamp their class on the world stage. Aidric Chan and Yuka Saso, on opposite coasts in the US, have raised the Philippine flag in victory. Chan won the showcase division, Boys 15 to 18, of the Junior World Golf Championship at Torrey Pines, San Diego, CA. Its been 33 years since our flag last flew there. That was back when Carito Villaroman won his 3rd Junior World defeating the likes of Phil Mickelson, Ernest Els, Shigeki Maruyama. Among Carito’s adoring crowd was an upcoming eight-year-old sensation who would win the 9-10 division. The boy’s name was Tiger Woods. Now, Tiger is the man. But in 1983 to 1986, even to the young Mr. Woods, the man was Carito. 

Saso, our reigning Asian Games gold medalist, won over a stellar international field at the 2019 Girls Junior PGA Championship in Connecticut. She is now competing in the US Girls Junior Championship in Wisconsin, a combined stroke and match play event against an equally competitive field. She is already the medalist in the 36 hole stroke play portion and is, thus, top seed for match play. Saso is a champion who will continue to make us all proud as she carries the flag on the world stage.

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