A cacophony of discordant voices were echoed over the issue of proposing amendments to the 1987 constitution to clip the powers of the Supreme Court and to allow the President Benigno Simeon Aquino to run for a second term.
The 1987 constitution allows amendments to the constitution. It is within the power of the legislative branch to propose amendments to the constitution to clip the power of the Supreme Court because it is within the accepted principle of “checks and balance.” If the court now is perceived as imperialistically overreaching the two other branches of government, the court should be checked and powers of government should be balanced.
The idea of proposing for a second term for President Aquino works along the same line. The constitution is not written in granite, and the document itself says that amendments can be made to it. The people will vote anyway for the amendments in a plebiscite. They can reject the amendments or ratify them. There is nothing undemocratic or autocratic about the whole shebang contrary to what the doomsayers would like us to believe.
The constitution as it is, contains a perpetual libel against the Office of the President in supposing that no President can sustain a prolonged, dedicated and genuine public service, hence he should be barred from reelection. The constitutional commission that voted for such term limit was reeling from the trauma of Marcos martial law, and most of them were lawyers. The term limit was meant to deter a bad President from holding over. The term limit, while meritorious at the time it was promulgated, does not hold its wisdom now that you have a good President. Why fire an exemplary CEO because he was just contracted to manage the corporation for six years when you can simply redraft the contract to hire him for additional six years? Does that look like incomprehensible to anyone of you? Heck No!
I would add also that the lawyers who drafted the 1987 constitution while shackling the Office of the President and Congress with term limits, did not do so in the case of the members of the Supreme Court by allowing them to serve for life or until they retire at age 70. On top of that, the framers (who were mostly lawyers) invested the judicial department with “overreaching power” under the guise of “abuse of discretion” and “judicial review” which shattered the structural contour of a truly republican form of tripartite government with checks and balance in full play. While they punished future Presidents by barring them to seek for a reelection, the same group of people rewarded the judicial department that made possible a Marcos power-grab in 1972 with tremendous power as a reward. This is what Thomas Jefferson said “loyalty to the corps.”
Former Justice Secretary Juan Liwag under the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal, at a time when the judicial department was still in its nascent power had expressed his misgivings already when he said: “I dreaded to see the day the Supreme Court would virtually run the affairs of the government under the guise of judicial review.”(Marites Vitug, Shadow of Doubt, p. 39).
President Aquino or Congress wanted the power of the judicial department diluted so we can truly enjoy a truly republican system of government where the powers of government are allocated in three branches of government with effective “checks and balance” in place.
In her book, “The Supremacists” Schafly said about the U.S. Supreme Court:
“The unique and brilliant design of the Constitution – the system of checks and balances, with each branch checking on the power of two other branches – has been replaced by the Imperial Judiciary. Judicial supremacists have grabbed unconstitutional powers for the courts, and Congress has failed to restrain their power grab.”
President Aquino, while still enjoying a moral ascendancy today over his critics, must reshape our government to a truly republican form by going ahead with the constitutional amendments.