MIND DA NEWS: A Big Black Eye

GENERAL SANTOS CITY(MindaNews/05 July)– President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III will sport a big black eye when he delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the Congress on July 28. What will he do in his SONA? Will he soothe the black eye or use it to rally more support for his distressed administration and in the process censure those who inflicted the black eye? Says the ending of thriller serials: “Abangan!” literally, in English, “Await the next”.

The Supreme Court, in its Decision released last Tuesday, July 1, declared unconstitutional the Development Acceleration Program (DAP). This is the big blow that has inflicted the big black eye. How big and black? He had the DAP created; he has defended it. The unconstitutionality virtually amounts to culpable violation of the Constitution which, in his oath, he had promised to defend.

How big is the blow? The Supreme Court, with 14 members, voted 13-1-0. Notably, all his appointees, including the chief justice, were among the 13 who voted for. The lone abstention is that of an appointee of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. By protocol, they will be invited to attend the SONA. An awkward situation can ensue.

To avoid any such situation, will President Aquino III avoid mentioning the DAP in his SONA? Or, will the justices decline the invitation this time? The DAP Decision is, in itself, a national embarrassment. Should the President challenge the Decision in his SONA it can cause not only embarrassment on the justices present but also more national embarrassment – international, too.

How unconstitutional is the DAP? The creation of the DAP was in violation of Article VI, Section 25(5) of the 1987 Constitution. By its implementation the President usurped the power of the Congress over the purse that by the doctrine of separation of powers exclusively belongs to the Congress; and, he amended the General Appropriation Acts. As the Constitution prescribes, the President, in his oath, swears to protect the Constitution and the laws. The DAP was an act of “bantay salakay”, or, in English, “guard raiding what he is guarding”.

The President and the Palace are invoking “good faith” and “socio-economic benefits” for the people to justify the creation and implementation of the DAP. They are evading the core issue of constitutionality.

The Court Decision says that [1] the “programs, activities and projects (PAPs) implemented in good faith prior to the court ruling invalidating the DAP, as a matter of equity” cannot be nullified; but, [2] this does not nullify unconstitutionality and illegality and the liability of the “authors, proponents and implementors of the DAP” so that they still have to prove “good faith” and clear themselves of their accountabilities.

In emphasizing [1], they ironically project [2]. Not all the PAPs were done in good faith and for the benefit of the people. The billions disbursed for political patronage certainly did not benefit the people. The DAP was (it was abolished last year to purportedly render the case before the Court moot and academic) a rotting banana. Aquino III, et al., only pointed to the good portion forgetting that the rotten part cannot be hidden.

Justices Antonio Carpio and Arturo Brion are very critical of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad’s “good faith defense”. As declared by Abad, Brion said “it can have far reaching effects. Worse, for this Court, any advocacy or mention of presumption of good faith may be characterized as an undue and underserved deference to the Executive, implying that the rule of law, separation of powers and checks and balances may have been compromised in this country.”(Bold supplied)

How will the DAP Decision impact on the President and his administration?It will depend on who is viewing the impact. The black eye will soon disappear; but the image cannot be prevented from recurring. The Aquino III partisans will only see the good portion of the banana; but rid of the rotting part, the banana is no longer whole

Former Sen. Joker Arroyo, first executive secretary of President Corazon C. Aquino – Aquino III’s mother — said the Supreme Court ruling showed that the President “crushed” Congress and remarked: “But at what price? His survival is now in peril.”

His SONA on July 28 bears watching. Either the DAP Decision is just another decision or it will imperil the President’s survival in his last two years. The big black eye it has inflicted may be etched in Philippine history. [Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at patponcediaz@yahoo.com.]

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2014/07/05/mind-da-news-a-big-black-eye/

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