Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has vowed to defy the Supreme Court if it orders Congress to tackle Martial Law in a Joint Session (as mandated by the Constitution). He insists that as co-equals, the Judiciary cannot “dictate” Congress what to do.
Alvarez is ignorant of history – forgetting the recent episode under the last president where the Supreme Court effectively struck down the self-serving pork barrel “bargain among thieves” that Congress and the Executive had reached on PDAF and DAP.
He is also ignorant of the “separation of powers” between the three branches – in particular, on the role of the Supreme Court as final arbiter on constitutional matters.
The division is straightforward: Congress writes the laws – but only within the framework of the Constitution. Executive implements the laws. Judiciary interprets the laws.
If Congress refuses to follow the law – such as to meet in Joint Session to review & discuss the President’s declaration of Martial Law – citizens should have recourse thru the Supreme Court to compel Congress to do its job. If Supreme Court supports the petitioners’ positions, Congress is duty-bound to follow.
To defy a Supreme Court order on a constitutional matter is to trigger a constitutional crisis. Such a stalemate may be resolved thru statesmanship. But in today’s toxic political climate, it could also be resolved by military intervention (if the officers decide to defend the Constitution) or mob rule (if the fanatics decide to do away with the Constitution altogether).
Both scenarios would be bad for stability, bad for business, bad for investments, bad for the peso, etc. Ultimately it will be bad for the pocket and stomach of Juan Dela Cruz. Not equally bad as one scenario is clearly worse than the other.
Alvarez’ statement courts such a constitutional crisis. It is clearly a challenge to the Supreme Court as an institution. Supreme Court should not shirk from the challenge. It should interpret the law without fear or favor. Otherwise this could be the final nail in the coffin of rule of law.
The Speaker is a Destabilizer. Just like his political master. Both are not above the law. The Supreme Court should rediscover its voice before it becomes a mere parrot of tyrants. /By : Bernard Ong