MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) – The timing says it all. On the same day that President Aquino delivered a tongue lashing directed at the Supreme Court for striking down the Disbursement Acceleration Fund as unconstitutional, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., an administration ally, filed a bill seeking to reform or abolish the high tribunal’s Judiciary Development Fund.
In light of how the controversial DAP has drawn flak, Tupas’ bill can only be interpreted as a vindictive measure. He is out not to advocate reform through legislation. He is the designated political triggerman tasked to fire the opening salvo in a war that Malacanang is cooking up against a co-equal branch of government.
It’s not that the JDF should not be scrutinized or placed under tighter rules. It’s the fact that Tupas realized such need only after the Supreme Court ruled against the DAP and earlier, against the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the lawmakers’ biggest capital for political longevity. Vengeance is clearly the genuine motivation behind the bill, which was filed apparently upon the prodding of Malacanang.
“This is a system at work, of constitutional processes at work. It’s a system of checks and balances. In line with the Supreme Court’s decision that some discretionary funds are unconstitutional, we have to look at the JDF,” Tupas claimed.
Even at its face value, Tupas’ statement was all hot air. In both form and substance, the bill appears to be a well-intentioned effort to make the system of checks and balances work. Except that it’s being used to blackmail the judiciary to acquiesce to the combined will of the executive and legislative.
In this instance where two branches connive against the third branch the principle of co-equality ceases to exist, as it can only thrive in an atmosphere of mutual respect. In this instance where two branches combine their might – and wrath – against the third branch there could not be a genuine system of checks and balances.
Aquino dangled more pork to the House so it would impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona after the Supreme Court ruled that Hacienda Luisita, for a long time the economic and political backbone of the Cojuangcos of Tarlac, should be distributed to its tenants. Aquino’s allies concealed the true motive of the impeachment by exploiting Corona’s inability to adequately explain the sources of his multi-million cash deposits and properties.
The nascent dictator has declared another war with the Supreme Court. Arrogance has blinded him to the reality that the political odds have changed since 2010. Disillusionment is growing by the day.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)