Contact Details

Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370

 

 

          President Aquino does not have to imprint his own logo in the campaign against corruption by inventing and saving an infirm “Truth Commission”.

 

          The Supreme Court scuttled the commission as unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause safeguarded by the Constitution and has referred to it as an “adventure in partisan hostility” and “a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.”

 

          If the President is in earnest in his avowed crusade, he should not have wasted six months in fanfare and sloganeering, but from day one of his administration should have immediately marshaled the awesome resources of government against suspected culprits by filing appropriate complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman.

 

          The Ombudsman and the DOJ are the existing institutions mandated by the Constitution and statutes to investigate and prosecute those who have committed venalities in government service.

 

          The functions of these existing agencies need not be duplicated by the “Truth Commission” even as the commission itself is tasked to secure the assistance of both the DOJ and the Ombudsman.

 

          There is no need to involve these agencies in the work of the commission when they can discharge their jurisdiction independently.

 

          The DOJ and the Ombudsman need not wait for the recommendations of the commission which can drag its investigations up to the expiration of its existence on December 31, 2012, while both agencies can now act with dispatch and alacrity over complaints filed or to be filed before them.

  

          President Aquino does not have to imprint his own logo in the campaign against corruption by inventing and saving an infirm “Truth Commission”.

           The Supreme Court scuttled the commission as unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause safeguarded by the Constitution and has referred to it as an “adventure in partisan hostility” and “a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.”

           If the President is in earnest in his avowed crusade, he should not have wasted six months in fanfare and sloganeering, but from day one of his administration should have immediately marshaled the awesome resources of government against suspected culprits by filing appropriate complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman.

           The Ombudsman and the DOJ are the existing institutions mandated by the Constitution and statutes to investigate and prosecute those who have committed venalities in government service.

           The functions of these existing agencies need not be duplicated by the “Truth Commission” even as the commission itself is tasked to secure the assistance of both the DOJ and the Ombudsman.

           There is no need to involve these agencies in the work of the commission when they can discharge their jurisdiction independently.

           The DOJ and the Ombudsman need not wait for the recommendations of the commission which can drag its investigations up to the expiration of its existence on December 31, 2012, while both agencies can now act with dispatch and alacrity over complaints filed or to be filed before them.

  • Rep. Edcel C. Lagman
  • 09 December 2010
  • Mobile No. 0916 6406737
  • Tel. No. 4155455, 9315497

 

             President Aquino has lost his cool in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision scuttling the Truth Commission as an unconstitutional monstrosity.

             The President has engaged in name-calling by virtually labeling the majority justices as the “deaf and blind” obstructing his avowed crusade against corruption when he created the Truth Commission, which the Supreme Court alternatively referred to as an “adventure in partisan hostility” and “a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.”

            The Supreme Court has struck down the Truth Commission as unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause safeguarded by the Constitution.

            In support of its decision, the Supreme Court ruled:

            Equal protection has been embodied in a separate clause “to provide for a more specific guarantee against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from the government x x x but if the particular act assailed partakes of an unwarranted partiality or prejudice, the sharper weapon to cut it down is the equal protection clause.”

           “According to a long line of decisions, equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed.”

            “The clear mandate of the envisioned Truth Commission is to investigate and find out the truth ‘concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration’ only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain, patent and manifest.”

           “It must be borne in mind that the Arroyo administration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past administrations. It is not a class of its own. Not to include past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness which the equal protection clause cannot sanction. Such discriminating differentiation clearly reverberates to label the commission as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.”

           “However, the fact remains that Executive Order No. 1 suffers from arbitrary classification. The PTC (Philippine Truth Commission), to be true to its mandate of searching for the truth, must not exclude the other past administrations.”

           “Although Section 17 (of E.O. No. 1) allows the President the discretion to expand the scope of investigations of the PTC so as to include the acts of graft and corruption committed in other past administration, it does not guarantee that they would be covered in the future. Such expanded mandate of the commission will still depend on the whim and caprice of the President. If he would decide not to include them, the section would then be meaningless.”

           If the President is earnest in investigating and prosecuting officials of the Arroyo administration, he can marshal the resources of the government in instituting cases before the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman without need for amending Executive Order No. 1 or seeking reconsideration of the Supreme Court decision.

            Neither propaganda and sloganeering nor unlawful shortcuts must taint or detract a supposedly noble crusade against graft and corruption.

          

              The Supreme Court’s declaration of nullity of the Truth Commission does not make former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo “untouchable” and does not set back a genuine campaign against graft and corruption.

              Despite the scuttling of the Truth Commission as an unconstitutional executive creation, this does not insulate officials of the previous administration from the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice which are the long-existing agencies authorized to investigate and prosecute officials who are alleged to have committed venalities in government.

             What the Supreme Court decision stops is partisan hostility and political vengeance disguised as crusade against corruption, search for truth and quest for closure.

             What is set back and prohibited are discriminatory shortcuts which deny equal protection to targeted respondents like singling out officials of the previous administration as if corrupt practices were exclusive to them.

             All persons belonging to the same class, like the sector of public functionaries of all administrations, must be equally protected by law and must be safeguarded from discrimination by government.

             Equal protection demands that all must be exposed to the same processes and rigors irrespective of administrations and periods of incumbency.

             While the Aquino administration has the right to file a motion for reconsideration to reverse the Supreme Court ruling, its success is farfetched because of the lopsided voting of 10 to 5 in favor of the decision to declare the Truth Commission unconstitutional.

             Supreme Court justices are independent jurists who are not accountable to whoever appointed them, but only to the majesty of the law, the ascendency of conscience and the merits of a case.