Archive for the ‘Diokno’ Category

New Congressional Districts in Camarines Sur: Is The Great Joker Arroyo Losing Some Of His Faculties?

November 27, 2008

Is the great Joker Arroyo losing some of his faculties?

This question first cropped up when he questioned the impeachment moves against Madame Gloria. In the process he impugned the motives of the movers which included progressive elements to which he was formerly part of. But this was quickly forgotten and forgiven as an aberration to which someone of his stature is entitled to. In the great pantheon of civil libertarians, the great Joker Arroyo probably stood just a shade below the libertarian icons Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tanada.

Then Senator Arroyo ran again under the banner of Gloria’s coalition in the 2007 elections. He neatly reasoned that under Gloria he won’t have to raise his campaign expenses. This drew chuckles and raised eyebrows given the unpopularity of Gloria’s regime. He was lucky to scrape in but just barely. His remaining admirers heaved sighs of relief. And they were hoping that the great Joker will flash again his old righteous self.

But lately, disappointments are creeping against Joker. An Edong Angara is able to maintain some distance from the hated couple but it seems Joker can’t when from all expectations he probably can. After all, he didn’t bow to Marcos. Nor did he kowtow to anybody before. But here he is, clearly identified with the first couple. And we all thought that unlike two incumbent senators who think highly of themselves, Joker was not the opportunist kind.

Recently, he had a run-in with Sen. Aquino who was chairing a committee discussing the addition of more congressional seats to Camarines Norte and Cavite. When Joker insisted on including in the calendar the reapportionment of the 1st and 2nd districts of Camarines Sur, Sen. Aquino called off the committee hearing and asked Joker why he was rushing it when it was not on the agenda. He also said that the reapportionment of Camarines Norte and Cavite districts had already undergone thorough discussions.

In the Philippines, a minimum population of 250,000 is needed to form a legislative district. When a certain district’s population exceeds 500,000 a bill can be submitted to Congress for its division. It is not normal practice to create a new congressional district from two or more old districts. To do this is almost tantamount to gerrymandering.

There is no district in Camarines Sur where the population has already exceeded 500,000. New districts can only be created in this province through gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the redistribution of electoral district boundaries for political advantage.

In the cases of Camarines Norte and Cavite gerrymandering cannot be easily charged since it will simply divide districts that has already exceeded the double of the minimum population required for a congressional district. In Camarines Norte it will probably involve separating it into the east and west districts with the west composed of Labo and all the towns west of it.

In Camarines Sur, no legislative district population exceeds 500,000 as of the 2007 Census. The 1st district has only 417,304 inhabitants; the 2nd, 474,899; the 3rd, 372,548; and, the 4th, 429,070. With a population growth rate of only 1.86% it is only in 2010, the next censal year, when the 2nd district will probably exceed the 500,000 mark.

The talk in Camarines Sur is that reapportionment is being pushed so that Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. and incumbent Congressman Dato Arroyo can both run in 2010. Currently, Madame Gloria’s son is occupying the seat used to be held by Nonoy Andaya and his late father. But on this Joker Arroyo has this to say:”That is malicious, tell them that is bullshit”. But I think one can hardly find an adult in Camarines Sur who will not believe such talk.

I remember Joker Arroyo called Sen. Antonio Trillanes as “the poster boy of rebellion”. But I didn’t hear him call Gen. Angelo Reyes as the “poster boy of mutiny”. I bet he would rather pin that monicker on Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin.

I am beginning to suspect now that Joker Arroyo is beginning to lose some of his faculty of sight.

The Supreme Court Decision on Executive Privilege: A License For Impunity

September 8, 2008

When the Supreme Court said that the conversations between Romulo Neri and her President is covered by “executive privilege,” I said to myself, “garbage in, garbage out.” With a Court of such composition maybe one cannot expect a decision better than that. If the current Court is deciding on that historical claim of executive privilege (the White House tapes), Nixon might have finished his term and subsequently shenanigans of the presidents of the US would forever be hidden from public view.

With such a decision of the Court, illegal activities of the president and his/her men/women will forever be secrets. There will be no more witnesses and paper trails will just be wisps of the imagination.

Before the advent of Martial Law, the Philippine Supreme Court was generally composed of the best and brighest of the legal profession, the so-called legal luminaries. Bar topnotchers and legal pillars dominated that institution.

But, alas, even with such bright minds, it was not able to acquit itself well during Martial Law. It also rendered hodge-podge decisions when questions  about Marcos’ rule  and ‘prerogatives’ were brought upon it. It was not them that made the legal profession shine during those darkest hours (with the possible exception of the late Justice Claudio Teehankee) but the likes of the late Senator Jose Diokno and the present Senator Joker Arroyo, who with the last ounce of legal reasoning possible tried to challenge the impunity of the dictatorship.

Intelligence can be inherited, education can be bought, expertise can be trained but courage is one thing that cannot be taught. And it is courage that utterly lacking in our Supreme Court for a long time now. It a virtue Senators Diokno and Arroyo had in abundance.

I rue that Senators Diokno, Arroyo, Saguisag and Roco never became Supreme Court Chief Justices. If only people like them were in our highest Court decisions would probably have been different and Malacanang will probably heed the admonishions of the Court.

Today, lawyers of none-so-sterling qualifications dominate the highest Court. In terms of academic and legal achievements they are none-so-different from the occupants of the lesser courts. Pedestrian decisions? You have it!

In our country, majesty of the law is only in the minds of the lawyers.