I’ve been tuning in to ANC a lot these days and attending all the forums that I could (one of my orgs even sponsored a forum with some of the newly-resigned Cabinet secretaries) regarding the most recent and monumental socio-political-economic crisis to hit our nation. Though much has already been said, still I would like to say my piece re: the issue as to whether or not PGMA should resign from office. Here are some of my stream of consciousness ramblings re: the matter…
It has been argued that evidence to support her ouster is still inconclusive. But what more proof do we need? The Hello Garci tapes and PGMA’s admission that she had “a conversation with a Comelec official to protect her votes” are already prima facie evidence that she has betrayed the public trust. While this may not be considered as proof beyond reasonable doubt by some (as characterized by that quality of evidence, which could convict criminals in Courts of law), in my opinion, such evidence are already sufficient to come to a conclusion that PGMA violated her constitutional mandates. In the present case, which is not a criminal proceeding, such a quantum of proof is sufficient.
PGMA has also been hiding under the protective mantle of privacy of communication & correspondence. Public welfare & interest & the nation’s right to good governance & leadership w/ moral ascendancy is at stake here and has greater weight versus PGMA’s right to privacy. Neither could she invoke this right nor prosecute the wiretappers under RA 4200 (the Anti-Wire Tapping Act) because such an action on her part would estop her into admitting that she is indeed the female voice in the Hello Garci tapes.
It has been said that the Sprit & intention of the law should prevail over the letter thereof. Using the textualist’s argument, it may indeed be said that no such provision of law punishing the act of talking to an election official during election time exists. However, we must note that despite the fact that no explicit provisions of law prohibiting the President from phoning a Comelec official exist, the Constitution mandates that the Comelec’s independence prevail (note that it uses the word “shall” – which means that it is a ministerial act, one which does not require the use of judgment even). Thus even indirect acts which violate such independence is repugnant to our fundamental law. Such is also the Spirit behind the Omnibus Election Code.
As a CPA, I, along with my colleagues, have been taught in our Auditing theory subject that there are 2 kinds of independence – independence in appearance & independence in fact. While it is highly debatable whether or not PGMA & Garci’s independence in fact has been impaired, my take on the matter is that their independence in appearance has been tainted beyond reasonable doubt. Her “conversation with a comelec official to safeguard her votes” is contrary to the principles of ensuring the Comelec’s independence. Comelec officials are mandated by law to protect the votes of the electoral candidates. With PGMA’s phone call, she gave the message that she wanted her votes protected more than that of the others. As an incumbent president running for reelection, the mere fact that she holds such a position, which possesses immense power is enough to influence any subordinate with whom she has a conversation. Regardless of how indirect such an influence may be, it is still proscribed by the Constitution, which doesn’t discriminate between direct & indirect means to impair the Comelec’s independence.
I have so much respect for the seat of presidency that precisely I refuse to allow it to be furthermore tainted. It has already been blemished enough. Letting a president who has commited a serious breach of trust remain in her seat of power just because she has already allegedly apologized to the nation is a more dangerous precedent than that of another ouster. Letting her stay on longer would only taint the position even more & result in more damage politically, socially & economically. Furthermore, I adhere to the opinion that resorting to impeachment proceedings is only tantamount to prolonged agony for this nation (although, at the back of my mind, am thinking, that is the next best option that we have). Nor do I believe that changing our form of government into a parliamentary system is the solution to our problems – this is not addressing the issue. The issue here is whether or not our incumbent president is still capable to govern this nation. More simply put, should PGMA resign? In my own humble opinion a student of the law is YES, SHE SHOULD. The sooner she does, the more she would be able to exercise statesmanship. Moreover, such an action on her part would preempt unconstitunal means of usurpation of power by other power-hungry vultures.
I may not be able to march in the streets – not because I denounce it…nor am I saying that people should (go out & rally. Although it’s perfectly in accordance with the rule of law. As per Art III Sec 4 of the 1987 Consitution, the people have a right to peacably assemble and petition the government for the redress of their grievances.) Instead, in my own little way, via the exercise of one of my fundamental freedoms as a particle of sovereignty, I paste in this blog the statement of the UP Law Faculty in the hope that my friends would be reading & be enlightened as to the legal reasons behind my stand (and that of others) re: PGMA’s ouster – and thus dispel the myths being propagated by those in the Administration about what is & what isn’t constitutional.
WITH a vote of 32-6, including six abstentions, the faculty of
the College of Law of the University of the Philippines has
decided to issue a collective statement on the issue of Pres.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s taped conversations. The
statement, officially released at 2 p.m. on 4 July 2005
received “yes” votes from 16 of the College’s 23 full-time law
professors. Thirteen faculty members who did not attend the
special faculty meeting called to discuss the matter were
unable to cast their votes.
UP COLLEGE OF LAW: Resignation is the best apology
We, the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of
Law, in line with our responsibilities as lawyers, educators,
and citizens of the Republic, have decided to present our
collective views on the issue of the “Gloria Tapes.” We
believe that Malacanang’s confirmation that President Arroyo
made the calls to Commissioner Garcillano implies more than
a mere “lapse of judgment” or simple impropriety. We believe
that it constitutes an inexplicable and inexcusable failure to
adhere to fundamental precepts of the Constitution.
President Arroyo took an oath to “faithfully and
conscientiously fulfill [her] duties as President of the
Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its
laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate [herself] to the
service of the Nation.” (Article VII, Section 5) Under Section
17 of the same Article, she is mandated to “ensure that the
laws be faithfully executed.” Among the laws that the
President swore to preserve, defend, and faithfully execute is
Article IX, Section 1 of the Constitution, which guarantees the
independence of the COMELEC. A series of direct, personal
calls from the Chief Executive, a candidate in the elections, to
a COMELEC official during the election period, already grossly
violates that independence. Taking into account the content of
the conversations which indicate manipulation of the
canvassing process, concealment of illegal acts, and outright
electoral fraud underscores the debasement of the
constitutional right to suffrage, the very foundation of our
democracy, and establishes the criminal culpability of
President Arroyo. Fulfillment of these fundamental
constitutional duties did not require any “judgment” on the part
of President Arroyo only full and faithful adherence to basic
and straightforward provisions of the Constitution.
We believe that with this glaring failure to abide by the duties
of her high office, President Arroyo has lost the capacity to
serve the public trust with the utmost responsibility and
integrity. She has become morally, and constitutionally, unfit
to be President.
We are therefore calling upon President Arroyo to resign. If
she takes our nation’s best interests to heart and is genuinely
sorry for her failure to do her duty, she should step down.
Resignation is the best apology she can offer the Filipino
We are likewise calling on the Commissioners of the
COMELEC to vacate their posts in view of the serious
damage the “Gloria Tapes” issue has done to their credibility
and integrity. They must be reminded that they are bound to
perform their duties honestly, faithfully, and in such a manner
as to be above suspicion of irregularities a standard they
can no longer meet in the current situation.
It must be emphasized that, contrary to the claims in some
quarters, resignation is constitutional. Voluntary
relinquishment is one of the constitutionally recognized means
by which the Presidency can be vacated. (Article VII, Section
Likewise, calling for the President to step down is perfectly in
accordance with the exercise of the constitutional right to free
speech, and cannot be abridged through prior restraint or
threat of subsequent punishment. (Article III, Section 4) We
are constrained to reiterate this point in the wake of the dire
warnings and threats of prosecution that have been made by
the Department of Justice.
We make these statements on the basis of what we believe
the Constitution, the laws, and public interest prescribe. We
do so pursuant to our appreciation of what our responsibilities