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  • Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman
  • 24 August 2010
  • 0918-9120137 / 0196-6406737

                                                   LAGMAN ASKS SC TO RULE STOCK  

                                                     OPTION UNCONSTITUTIONAL

           The transcendental question which the Supreme Court has to resolve in the pending Hacienda Luisita case is the constitutionality of the “stock distribution option” as an alternative to land distribution.

           The High Court must not forfeit the opportunity of expunging from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) a 22-year old aberration which derogates on the constitutional mandate of land-to-the-tiller.

 The Supreme Court has the authority to adjudicate, whenever possible, “the entire controversy in a single proceeding, leaving no root or branch to bear the seeds of future litigation” as enunciated in Caurdanetaan Piece Workers Union vs. Laguesma, 286 SCRA 401.

           The constitutionality of Section 31 of RA No. 6657 (CARL) which authorizes “stock distribution option” as a sufficient compliance with the agrarian reform law has yet to be ruled upon more than two decades after the enactment of the provision.

           Grant of shares of stock in lieu of land distribution is repugnant to the precise language and genuine spirit of the Constitution which mandates the distribution of the land to landless farmers and regular farmworkers who till the land.

           Section 4 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution unequivocally provides:

           “The State shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till x x x To this end, the State shall encourage and undertake the just distribution of all agricultural lands x x x.”

            Under the said provision, there are only two questions to be answered: (1) Are the agrarian reform beneficiaries farmers and regular farmworkers tilling the subject landholding?; and (2) Are the farmers and regular farmworkers landless?

            If the answers are both in the affirmative, then there is no other option under the Constitution than to distribute the land to the covered beneficiaries.

            The farmers and regular farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita are qualified landless tillers who are entitled to land distribution, not stock awards.

             No amount of conformity by farmer-beneficiaries can legitimize or sanctify a contrived arrangement or deal designed to circumvent the Constitution.

            The principal issue before the Supreme Court is not whether the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council has the power to revoke the Hacienda Luisita “SDO”.

            The primordial concern is not the validity of the “SDO” relative to the prescriptive period for the distribution of shares of stock to the beneficiaries.

            Neither is the main issue the abridgement of a covenant or contract nor the dilution of the farmer-stockholders’ shares.

            While these are relevant ancillary issues, the transcendental question is whether “stock distribution option” is a valid and constitutional recourse to land distribution.

            Whatever landlords conceptualize will always be for the good of the landowners and inimical to the tillers of the land. This is the tragic case of the “stock distribution option” of which the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita are the principal proponents and self-serving beneficiaries.

  • Office of the Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman
  • 13 August 2010
  • 0918-9120137 / 0196-6406737

                                                              IT’S ‘TREASON’ TO KILL BILLS

                                                               DUE TO MALACAÑANG’S CUE

 

          “Legislation is the exclusive domain of the Congress, not the turf of the President.”

           Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman underscored this plenary power of the legislature as he urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to prioritize the consideration and approval of more than a dozen bills seeking the deferment of the barangay polls despite President Benigno Aquino’s wanting the election to push through this October.

           “It is treason against the House for one to advocate killing bills just because Malacañang does not favor their enactment”, Lagman added.

           Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales was quoted to have said that, “If the President has already announced that he wants it (barangay elections) to push through, why do we have to give it (bills seeking the postponement) priority when the President can also veto it after all.”

           According to Lagman “an outright surrender to the wishes of the President just because he has the veto power is a defeatist attitude even as it abdicates the power of the Congress to legislate.”

Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman

12 August 2010

0918-9120137 / 0916-6406737

 

          Minority leader and Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman led three other senior solons in asking today the Supreme Court to nullify the creation of the “Truth Commission” for being unconstitutional.

           In a 55-page petition for Certiorari and Prohibition docketed as G.R. No. 193036, the petitioners challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 which formed the “Truth Commission” on the following grounds:

           1)   E.O. No. 1 violates the separation of powers as it arrogates the legislative authority of the Congress to create a public office and appropriate funds for its operation.

           2)   The provision of Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987 cannot legitimize E.O. No. 1 because the delegated authority of the President to structurally reorganize the Office of the President to achieve economy, simplicity and efficiency does not include the power to create an entirely new public office which was hitherto inexistent like the “Truth Commission”.

          3)   E.O. No. 1 illegally amended the Constitution and pertinent statutes when it vested the “Truth Commission” with quasi-judicial powers duplicating, if not superseding, those of the Office of the Ombudsman created under the 1987 Constitution and the Department of Justice created under the Administrative Code of 1987.

         4)   E.O. No. 1 violated the equal protection clause as it selectively targets for investigation and prosecution officials and personnel of the previous administration as if corruption is their peculiar species even as it excludes those of the other administrations, past and present, who may be indictable.

         5)   The creation of the “Philippine Truth Commission of 2010” violates the consistent and general international practice of four decades wherein States constitute truth commissions to exclusively investigate human rights violations, which worldwide customary practice forms part of the generally accepted principles of international law which the Philippines is mandated to adhere to pursuant to the Declaration of Principles enshrined in the Constitution.

         6)   The creation of the “Truth Commission” is an exercise in futility, an adventure in partisan hostility, a launching pad for trial/conviction by publicity and a mere populist propaganda to mistakenly impress the people that widespread poverty will altogether vanish if corruption is eliminated without even addressing the other major causes of poverty.

        7)   The mere fact that previous commissions were not constitutionally challenged is of no moment because neither laches nor estoppel can bar an eventual question on the constitutionality and validity of an executive issuance or even a statute.

        Sued as respondents in their official capacities are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

        Reps. Rodolfo Albano, Jr, Simeon Datumanong and Orlando Fua, Jr. joined Lagman in also calling the “Truth Commission” an “exercise in futility” for duplicating the quasi-judicial powers of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice.

       The petitioners also said that the “Truth Commission” is an “enterprise in partisan hostility” for engaging in selective and discriminatory pursuit of “truth and justice” solely against officials and personnel of the previous administration.

       The Supreme Court was also asked by the petitioners to issue a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the Office of the President from implementing or enforcing Executive Order No. 1.

       This is the second time in two days that an executive order of President Benigno Aquino III was challenged before the High Court. The validity of Executive Order No. 2 recalling the appointments of so-called “midnight appointees” was also questioned before the Supreme Court.

       Lagman said that the proffered purpose of achieving closure of the alleged misdeeds of the previous administration is only populist propaganda because the “Truth Commission” is authorized to drag the investigations for a maximum of 29 long months or up to December 21, 2012.

       The Bicol solon also said that the new administration is misleading the people by making the false impression that the elimination of graft and corruption is a magic wand that would altogether banish poverty without solving the other major causes of widespread poverty.

       Lagman earlier clarified that the petition before the Supreme Court is not to defend or protect the reported errant officials of the Arroyo administration but to uphold the constitutionally ordained separation of powers between the executive and the legislative and to sustain the rule of law.

Link: 

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20100816-287045/The-Truth-Commission

 

 

Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman
03 August 2010
0918-9120137 / 0196-6406737

                                                  CENTENARIANS HONORED
                                                   IN LAGMAN’S PROPOSAL

“While we laud the youth as the hope of the future, let us commend centenarians as the fulfillment of the present.”

This was underscored by Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman, a staunch advocate of human development, after filing House Bill No. 834 which seeks to honor and grant additional benefits and privileges to Filipino centenarians and declares the 25th of September as National Respect for Centenarians Day.

“A major indicator of the level of a nation’s human development is life expectancy at birth,” Lagman said.

“We all aspire to live healthy, and consequently, long and productive lives. In a country where the average life expectancy is 71.6 years, living to be a centenarian, or three decades more than the average, is certainly a distinction worthy of emulation and public recognition,” Lagman emphasized.

The salient provisions of the proposed “Centenarians Act of 2010” are:

1)    On his or her 100th birthday, every Filipino residing in the Philippines or abroad shall be honored with a) a letter of felicitation from the President of the Philippines congratulating the celebrant for his or her longevity, and b) a centenarian’s gift in the amount of PhP100,000.000 chargeable against the contingent fund.

2)    As part of the annual Family Week celebration from September 19 – 28, the 25th of September is declared as National Respect for Centenarians Day during which all Filipinos who have turned 100 years old in the current fiscal year shall be awarded a plaque of recognition and a cash incentive by their respective city or municipal governments in appropriate ceremonies in addition to the Presidential recognition and the cash gift of PhP100,000.00.

3)   All living centenarians who reached their 100th birthday prior to the effectivity of the Act shall be honored on the celebration of the First National Respect for Centenarians Day or 120 days after the effectivity of the Act, whichever comes earlier, in appropriate ceremonies which shall be observed as a national event. They shall each be awarded a plaque of recognition and the PhP100,000.00 centenarian’s gift. In the same event posthumous plaques of recognition in honor of the deceased centenarians shall be presented to the nearest surviving relative of each centenarian or his/her representative.

4)    All centenarians shall be entitled to the grant of 50% senior citizen discount and exemption from the Value Added Tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of the goods and services from all establishments.
Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman
31 July 2010
0918-9120137 / 0916-6406737

The Minority in the House of Representatives is seriously considering challenging before the judicial forum the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 of President Benigno Aquino III creating the Truth Commission of 2010.

Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman stressed that “the projected court action is not to shield officials of the previous administration who can be indicted and tried before existing prosecutorial and judicial bodies.”

He explained that “the sole purpose of the judicial recourse is to uphold the sanctity of the Constitution on separation of powers and maintain the rule of law.”

Lagman added that the establishment of the Truth Commission may be constitutionally infirm for the following reasons:

1.    The creation and funding of offices and commissions is a legislative power of Congress and consequently, the Truth Commission cannot be constituted by mere executive fiat;

2.    The equal protection clause of the Constitution may be violated by targeting a specific group of officials for investigation; and

3.    The Truth Commission duplicates the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman as well as the statutory jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, the Sandiganbayan and the regular courts.

He also underscored that all previous commissions of consequence like the Agrava Board or Commission under the late President Ferdinand Marcos as well as the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Committee (Commission) on Human Rights under the late President Corazon Aquino were created by legislative authorization.

“It will be recalled that both former Presidents exercised legislative power under martial law and the revolutionary government, respectively, while President Aquino III exercises only executive powers,” Lagman said.

He clarified that because the President does not have the funding authority which is reserved to the Congress, the appropriation language of Section 11 of EO No. 1 lacks particularity and transparency because no specific amount is appropriated, except by a nebulous statement that the “Office of the President shall provide the necessary funds for the Commission” without identifying a definitive funding source.

Lagman observed that while the presidency has repeatedly announced that it wants speedy “closure” on the misdeeds of the previous administration, it authorized the Truth Commission to consume virtually 29 months from its creation or up to 31 December 2012 to “accomplish its mission.”

“This inordinately long duration granted to the Commission to terminate its investigation gives rise to apprehensions that the Truth Commission will be used as a launching pad for trial and conviction by publicity of expected respondents,” he added.