Filipinos Are Incorrigible Masochists!


At Newsbreak, an online blog, Atty. Theodore Te intoned:

“The Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is.”

Perhaps it is, but we did not take into account  the warnings of the people where we copied the doctrine from. 

The problem with our legal learning is our uncompromising adherence to the American judicial model without examining the cautions of their forefathers of the dangers of “judicial constitutional review” that is destructive of constitutionalism and republicanism , i.e.,  power to the people.

“Thomas Jefferson was of the idea that all constitutional question must be settled by a popular referendum since  the doctrine of  popular sovereignty empowered only the people at large to render such judgments. This was obviously burdensome, if not impractical, but it drew inspiration from the same visionary impulse that welcomed  a “sweeping away” of all laws  every generation.  He proposed in his  first Annual Address to Congress the moderate idea that each branch of the federal government  was sovereign and therefore empowered to interpret the constitution.  But Gelatin and Madison, recognizing the confusion persuaded him to delete  the  paragraph.”

x x x.

“Jefferson was hardly alone in grappling  unsuccessfully  with the proper role of the federal judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. The judicial institutions were still congealing as integral parts of the  national government. Nor had there been any clear consensus at the Constitutional Convention about the role of the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution’s meaning. Hamilton had made the clearest case on behalf of the principle of judicial review in Federalist 78, but it was part of the genius of the constitutional settlement of 1788 to leave such controversial questions blurry and unresolved.” 

“But Jefferson’s mind preferred to operate at a higher altitude, where the details and technicalities disappeared from sight and the larger moral patterns assumed a clear shape.  From that perspective he saw the federal judiciary and its capstone in the Supreme Court a source of unmitigated power.   If the West for Jefferson was the dynamic engine of expansion and national liberation that continually vitalized the American republic with its energy, the federal judiciary was the engine  of centralization and consolidation  that sucked the energies of the  new nation into a stifling sinkhole”.  (American Sphinx, Joseph Ellis, pp. 265-366).

Later in life, Jefferson saw the Federal Supreme Court as the perverter of the Constitution.

Incidentally, there are nations which defer the interpretation of their constitutions to the parliament, an institution whose members are subject to regular recall by the sovereigns through elections.

We saw how our own Supreme Court, connived with Mr. Marcos during martial law, and yet after he was deposed in 1986, the Cory Constitutional Convention gave more power to the Supreme Court than what the 1935 constitution had given it.  We have entrusted the protection of our civil liberties and our freedom to the very institution that has shown historical capacity to degrade and desecrate them.

We Filipinos are incorrigible masochists and we enjoy our self-flagellation with enduring pleasure and satisfaction.

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