Ignorant of the law

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

The music coming from playing old long-playing records of such great singers as Tony Bennett and John Gary was so overwhelming that it almost made me miss my favorite evening national television news program called TV Patrol last Friday. A deep scratch on the LP Blue Velvet constrained me to stop spinning the vinyls. When I turned on the TV, I realized that I was still watching ABS-CBN. Why can the network continue to air this and its other programs like “Ang Probinsiyano” despite the fact that the committee on franchises of the House of Representatives has denied the renewal of its franchise escapes me. I could not find any legal reason. No other conclusion came to me. I must be ignorant of the applicable law!

There was a news item in that TV Patrol program that also brought me to another kind of realization. I heard the report of President Duterte revealing his mind. He said that if elected vice president in the 2022 elections, he would himself take the responsibility of auditing all government agencies as if he were the Commission on Audit. His plain though halting Tagalog words were “Ako na lang din ang mag-audit sa lahat ng gobyerno.” In its reportage, the Manila Bulletin anglicized the presidentisl declaration into “I will do the auditing for the entire government.” Wow, Clark Kent is coming.

The way President Duterte described, last Friday evening, his future government role was clear and emphatic. He was full of confidence of winning an election that is still going to take place nine months forward. Duterte did not even mention of the electoral process. The vice presidency was, for him, a certain event to happen. And more importantly, there was no indicia that he could be wrong to act as the eventual COA. Pres Duterte appeared sure of whatever legal basis he has in his sleeves. When, not if, voted to the second highest elective position in the land, he would be COA himself.

TV Patrol journalists went to some personalities for their opinion. It was their job to find out if there was anyone who disagreed with the president’s statement. From where I sat, it was almost impossible to know how the choice of the reactors was made. All I remember was that there was a political scientist, a Law professor, and a daughter of a former vice president. All of them chorused in saying that it cannot be done. No vice president in the past was allowed to become the COA. The office of the president, practically a part of the Executive branch, is always distinct and separate from constitutional bodies like the COA. Those three reactors seemed to anchor their thoughts on Constitutionalists, like Fr. Bernas, who say that the COA is made an independent constitutional body in order to protect its integrity.

At the opening part of this article, I admitted being ignorant of the law upon realizing that ABS-CBN is still operational. The president who, I believe, ordered his vassals to refuse the franchise application of the broadcast giant may also be ignorant of any law to use so he can silence ABS-CBN forever. It is a pity that his demolition against the network has woefully been inadequate.

To end this write up, I have to ask who is ignorant of the applicable law between Duterte who claims that he can assume the role of a future COA on one hand or those who say otherwise, on the other hand?


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