”The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines… The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines… The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law.” (Phil. Constitution: Art IV, Sec. 1; Art. VII, Sec. 1; Art. VIII, Sec. 12)
Thus provides the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines – without expressed mention of the so called “Separation of Powers” which is however strongly presumed as a republican principle. In other words, just as the said principle is the fundamental premise of democracy, the effective bundling of both the legislative and judicial powers in the executive power is the reality actualized by authoritarianism, totalitarianism or dictatorship. This is when the maxim of “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” becomes a lamentable reality.
The Philippines, its people in particular, is not a stranger to such socio-political transit from freedom to serfdom, from self-determination to subjection. The two long decades of Martial Law is not only well recorded in Philippine History but also much remembered by most of the Filipino elderly. While many of the Martial Law mortal victims are already all gone to the hereafter and beyond – one of whom is in fact proclaimed a national hero – those still counted among the living retain the memory of the big atrocities and the horrible memories of the long Martial Law Regime in the Country.
It is definitely not something appealing much less delightful to perceive and note that the ruling administration appears to be more and more inclined to nullify the principle of “Separation of Powers”. Instead, the executive power exhibits a propensity to invade not only the legislative but also the judiciary powers in the exercise of its seeming majestic reign. In other words, Malacanang appears to have its far-reaching tentacles gradually but surely capture a good number of key public officials in the two other arms of governance to the fear or horror of a good number of people.
There is even the saying going around that “What Malacanang wants, Malacanang gets!” precisely on account of the non-observance of the “Separation of Powers” – through its well-rewarded and well-known strong allies and faithful followers in Congress and in the Courts of the land. That is possibly why all options or alternatives are on call ultimately in order to favor someone’s tenure of power to be forever and ever – if such were possible though much censurable.
In such a dismaying scenario, it is however both inspiring and consoling to take cognizance of the perception that up to this writing at least, there are still some SC Justices who make judgments according to law and jurisprudence. By June and specially by November this year, the SC landscape could drastically change.
May 27, 2009