Tuesday, October 23, 2012


“The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”
This is Section 7, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution. It is very specific and SELF-EXECUTING.
Section 1 of Article VII of the Constitution states, “The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines.
Under the same Article VII, Section 17, it provides, “The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Under these two sections the President is vested the power and, in fact, called upon to faithfully execute the provisions of said people’s Constitutional right. Limitations maybe imposed either by Congress in the form of a Statute or by the President in the form of an Executive Order, if desired. The latter has the force and effect of law.
The power to issue Executive Orders is derived from the Executive Power vested in the President.
But the absence of either should not prevent any Filipino citizen from demanding access to information on matters of public concern as provided for in the Bill of Rights.
Congressman and future Senator Erin Tanada should go ahead and continue pushing for the law under the current Congress. If not acted upon on time, he should work with Malacanang Palace in drafting an Executive Order similar to the provisions of the proposed FOI Act.  If appointed by the President later in the Executive Department, the duty to faithfully implement the Constitutional mandate may be included under his domain.
PNoy has a commitment locally and to the International community to have Open Government. This is one way of showing it. It would also provide his office the opportunity to monitor the pulse and points of interest of the public, be they media, supporters, and critics/naysayers.
The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines also states in Article II Section 26, "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law." 
There is a pending bill that would enable the said constitutional provision defining the prohibition of political dynasties.  But the former never had the chance of passing primarily because of the strong presence of the dynasties in Congress. It looks like it would continue to be so based on the candidates offered by the coalition of parties of both sides of the aisle.
The Cory Constitution provides another way of passing a law if the people cannot expect Congress to do it due to conflict of interest. The provision on People’s Initiative would do the trick.

COMELEC Brillantes suggested that we use People's Initiative to pass an enabling law to implement Section 26, Article II of the Philippine Constitution. It is similar to my suggestion earlier. Because of the apparent conflict of interest on the part of the current members of Congress, it is virtually impossible to pass such a law. Since it is his suggestion, Brillantes is expected to cooperate and assist such a People's Initiative. 

My other suggestion would have been for the President to issue an Executive Order defining political dynasties to implement the Constitutional provision. As stated above, this power is derived from the Executive Powers vested to him by the Constitution. An Executive Order has the force and effect of law.

I do not think that the Supreme Court would dare declare as unconstitutional the execution of a Constitutional mandate. But, as I also wrote earlier, REAL POLITIK would most likely prevent the President from following this suggestion.

Another suggestion is to implement the Constitutional mandate prohibiting political dynasties in the local level. A local law could be passed defining political dynasties by the provincial, city, or municipal lawmakers. Or use People's Initiative to pass the local law. This is easer to do. The start of the process alone would pressure local officials to make a choice by passing it the regular way or by People’s Initiative. But the threat of being removed by “Recall” remains precisely that.

The Constitution “prohibits political dynasties as may be defined by law.” It does not distinguish whether it should be national or local. 

Who was it that said, "Politics is all local"?

No comments:

Post a Comment