Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stare Decisis

The congressional race in the first district is heating up.
The contest is between incumbent Jocelyn S. Limkaichong and former Rep. Jacinto Paras.
The camp of Paras has filed a disqualification case against Rep. Limkaichong.
The ground is essentially the same as the disqualification case filed in the previous election: that Rep. Limkaichong is not a natural born Filipino.
The constitution requires that a member of the house of representatives must be a natural born Filipino.
The Supreme Court has said that a congressman must be a natural born citizen not only on the day of the election, but must be so, during the entire tenure of office (Limkaichong v Comelec, G.R. 178831-32, April 1, 2009) .
What is important is that when it comes to citizenship of a member of congress, or any elective official for that matter, it can be questioned anytime, according to the Supreme Court.
For instance, in Frivaldo v Comelec, the Supreme Court ruled that a petition to disqualify an elective official, on the ground that he is not a Filipino citizen, may be file at anytime
Thus, legally raising again the issue of the citizenship of Rep. Limkaichong comes not as a surprise.
But what is surprising is the manner of questioning her citizenship
The Supreme Court has already ruled in the Limkaichong case (Limkaichong v Comelec July 30, 2009) that Rep. Limkaichong’s qualification cannot be attacked before any tribunal or government institution.
“It is not enough that one's qualification, or lack of it, to hold an office requiring one to be a natural-born citizen, be attacked and questioned before any tribunal or government institution,..” the Court said.
There must be proper proceedings required by law.
The proper proceeding, as the Supreme Court itself has spelled out, is denaturalization proceedings.
The Supreme Court cited Section 18 Commonwealth Act 473.
The basis for questioning Rep. Limkaichong’s citizenship is the alleged defects in the naturalization of her father Julio Ong Sy a long time ago.
Under the law, the Solicitor general, his representative or the provincial fiscal can file a motion in court to cancel the naturalization certificate of a naturalized person, in this case Rep. Limkaichong’s father Julio Ong Sy.
The Supreme Court has already ruled that not even private persons, in an election contest, can seek a declaration of Rep. Limkaichong’s non-qualification.
Denaturalization “is plainly not a matter that may be raised by private persons in an election case involving the naturalized citizen’s (Juilo Sy’s) descendant (Rep. Limkaichong)”, said the Supreme Court.
This is decision of the Supreme Court .
It is the law of the case.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A true Caballero

By Pia Y. Dejaresco (Guest writer)

It was just two Thursdays ago (December 10) when my Physicial Education (P.E.) teacher taught his last.
I was told by my homeroom advisers that our P.E. teacher, Mr. Miguel ‘Mike’ Caballero, was diagnosed with lung cancer.
The fear was that the illness may not allow him to live very long, we were told.
Our class was devastated by the news.
Most of my classmates cried. I did, too.
I could remember our last lesson. It was about soccer. How goals are scored, fouls, what happens after a foul and whether the ball is in play our not. Unexpectedly, he asked us “Kinsay chada ug agi diri? Kanang taason” We pointed to a tall girl-classmate.
He asked her to write on the board for him because his arm was too painful for him to write. We could see.
After our teacher told us the news about Sir, we remembered our moments with him. Especially the times when he calls someone to answer a simple question.
If that someone gets it wrong he would say “Ah, kingkoy ka!”
Everyone would laugh.
He would always use the word “kingkoy” as a funny expression.
My father, Em-em Dejaresco, couldn’t forget that in 1983, Sir Caballero gave him a chance to play for the SUES Soccer Team.
He was the only 5th grader in the first team.
The rest were 6th graders.
Because of that chance, he went on to become a varsity player during his High School days and all the way to college.
Even playing for NORFA in national-level competitions.

Tribute to a true Caballero

My uncle Jay Dejaresco, too, has fond memories of Sir Mike Caballero.
“I have so much to thank Mr. Miguel ‘Mike’ Caballero for,” he said
Uncle Jay was Mr. Caballero’s student more than twenty five years ago.
“What I am today, an unforgettable part of it was because of Mr. Caballero’s influence, Mr. Caballero was my P.E. teacher in the elementary days," uncle Jay recalled.
"I saw in Mr. Caballero a remarkable desire to involve his students in sports.” he said.
My uncle saw Sir’s consistency— day-in and day-out--- in trying to mold students, and impart the importance of being fit not only mentally, but also physically.
“As an elementary student, I chose to engage in the sport of soccer football.” uncle recalled.
That was because Mr. Caballero welcomed any student who wanted to learn football, to join his after-school practice games in that crude soccer field, in front of the Silliman President’s White House, starting every 4 p.m.
Uncle Jay rcounted that everytime Mr. Caballero left the school in the afternoon and walked towards their playing field, wearing those trade-mark short pants, they would trail him like his disciples, not far behind.
“I learned to love soccer football because of Mr. Caballero.” He added.
He was very consistent in those afternoon games. He would act as referee and coach at the same time. He taught us the fundamentals of the game, uncle Jay remembered.
When my uncle graduated from grade school, he continued with his afternoon soccer practice. He became a varsity player in high school.
He trained with the best soccer trainers in the province.
Because of this passion and persistence, he became part of that elite team of high school players privileged to play in the national football games at the Ultra in Pasig.
“I was able to compete against the best soccer players in the country, at our age level then," he said.
"And for all the sweat, hard work, challenges, the triumphs in the football field, I share it with him," uncle said.
Looking back, uncle Jay said he could have ended up a bum in high school, wasting his afternoons.
“I could have been easily hooked in various vices, like drinking, drugs, were it not for those afternoon grinds that drove me daily to the football field,” he recalled.
“So, I am thankful to Mr. Caballero for igniting that love and passion for sports at a young age," uncle Jay said.
Young students must not only strive to do good in academics, uncle stressed.
They should also do as well in their physical development, he added.
My uncle is sure that many of Sir Caballero’s former students will agree that he played well this important role in successfully transforming kids into young, passionate sports enthusiasts.
Uncle Jay described Sir Mike Caballero as one dedicated man who has made a tremendous, positive impact to many of his students.
A true Caballero, indeed.
Somebody up there is happy for Sir Mike, for doing such a wonderful job.
God bless you, Sir Mike Caballero!
Keep fighting!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas is hope

Christmas is five days away, so let me greet our friends a Merry and peaceful Christmas.
Let us reflect on the significant events that happened the past year.
This year was filled with tragedies and calamities.
Killer typhoons were raging.
Evil drew first blood in Maguindanao, killing our fellow journalists and women, even lawyers.
Yet, despite the sufferings, hardships, and difficulties, we have all the reason say thank to Good Lord for his presence in our lives.
We overcame.
We look forward to another year.
We hope it will not be tumultuous, bloody, or violent, specially with the coming elections.
We pray for sobriety among warring politicians.
Hopefully they will be enlightened that the political positions they aspire for are not really the important things in life.
These are temporary, and they will not attain permanent title over it.
So relax.
There are far more important and exciting things that life has to offer.
Instead we urge politicians to fill the air with the Christmas spirit.
Be in mindful you have already filed your certificates of candidacies.
Be generous, so you will be remembered come May next year.
Hopefully our politicians will not be missing in action this Christmas season.
Otherwise, your names will be ‘missing’ in the ballots next year.
Seriously, this Christmas week, let us focus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
We commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior.
We are sinners. We incorrigibly commit wrong. We err.
But we have reason to hope that somehow, there is one who will cleanse us of our sins.
He will overlook our transgressions and assure us that everything is ok.
So let us pause this Christmas, and focus on its meaning in each of our lives.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why rebellion?

I find it hard to believe that the government filed rebellion against the members of the Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao.
Even with the advent of modern technology no iota of evidence---not a photograph, not a video--- has been shown of any actual public uprising and taking up of arms against the government, against any of those charged with rebellion.
The Ampatuans are fiercely loyal to the Arroyo government because of their mutual, “complementary” interests.
But why did the government have to charge the Ampatuans with rebellion, so as to justify the imposition of martial in Maguidnao province?
My gut feeling tells me that this rebellion charge against the Ampatuans are a concoction, a figment of one’s imagination.
We are going back to the Marcos era martial law, where people are made to rely on military “intelligence reports” about a rebellion or insurrection.
So the civilians are---as before---made to place their faith in the military’s word, or the military’s ”intelligence,” that there indeed exist grounds for the declaration of martial law.
But as to actual physical evidence, like simple photographs and videos, there is no evidence of any actual public uprising or the taking up for arms.
This is dangerous.
My feeling tells me that declaring martial law gives the government several key, tactical advantages, both legally and politically.
Let me venture into one probable motivation why the government declared martial law.
The government declared martial law, because it was a means of justifying warrantless arrests on the Ampatuans.
Except for Andal Ampatuan Jr., the first clan member to be arrested, there is hardly any legal justification for any warrantless arrests on the other clan members.
A warrantless arrest can only be justified if the murder has just been committed.
But in the November 23 massacre, several days had already lapsed since the incident.
The laspe of many days served to negate the validity of further warrantless arrests for the crime of murder.
So what did the government do?
Accusing the Ampatuans of rebellion is a convenient tactic, because by so doing, it would justify the continued warrantless arrests on the other members of the Ampatuan clan.
Warrantless arrests upon persons charged with rebellion are justified because rebellion is considered a “continuing” crime.
So the government is hitting several birds with one stone with these imaginary rebellion theory.
First, it gave justification for the declaration of martial law.
Second, it justified the warrantless arrests, which otherwise would already be legally defective if the charge were merely murder.
But what I fear is that this rebellion charge against the Ampatuans may not stand in court.
Yet I feel, that may precisely be the whole point.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Shocking Supreme Court decision

I am truly shocked at the decision of the Supreme Court which effectively held that appointive government personnel who run for public office need not resign their positions.
To my mind, this is a decision that rubs salt on the wounds of Juan dela Cruz.
The decision adds insult to injury.
The decision means that an Comelec election supervisor can run for mayor, councilor, board member governor, or any elective position, and still continue to supervise the elections of which he is among the candidates.
This also means that a provincial fiscal can run for any elective post, and end up in the board of canvassers which will canvass the votes of candidates, including his own, most probably.
This means that the chief of police can run for mayor, and then, continue to be the chief of police.
While being chief of police, he can set up checkpoints as mode of harassment in areas he believes are sympathetic to his political adversaries.
This is what the Supreme Court refers to as “equal” protection of the law.
I must have missed a lot in law school.
Last Tuesday The Supreme Court promulgated an extremely strange ruling in Eleazar P. Quinto versus Commission on Elections (GR 189698)
The full text of the decision, including the dissenting opinions can be accessed from the Supreme court website at: http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2009/december2009/189698.htm
The Supreme Court laid down a bizarre concept of “equal protection of the law”.
In simple terms, the Supreme Court is saying that there is inequality if elective officials are not deemed resigned when they run for office, while appointive officials are compelled to resign.
The Supreme Court’s "equalizing" solution: allow appointive government personnel to run for office without resigning, just like elective officials when they run for office.
Dios ko dai!
Let me put it straight: This Supreme Court decision all the more fosters greater inequality in our electoral processes.
It puts ordinary citizen-candidate Juan dela Cruz at a far greater disadvantage
Let me explain why.
The main reason why government officials and personnel (those who have access to public resources) should resign if they run for public office, is that this will prevent them from having undue advantage over an ordinary citizen Juan dela Cruz, who may also want to seek an elective post, but does not have the same access to public resources
By public resources I mean the government vehicles, the intelligence funds, pork barrel, the casuals, the office budget, etc.
There was a time (in the election code) when both government appointive and elective officials (running for a different position) are deemed resigned upon the filing of their certificates of candidacies.
But this has been gradually eroded.
First, Congress removed elective officials from the ambit of compelled resignations, when they run for public office (self-serving)
Now, the Supreme Court has removed appointive public officials from the ambit compelled resignations too, when they run for office.
If we, ordinary private citizens run for public office, we are put at a tremendous disadvantage not only by elective officials-candidates, but now also by appointive officials-candidates.
Nisamot ang pagkadehado ni Juan dela Cruz. (Juan dela Cruz’ disadvantage has been aggravated).
To my mind, to equalize matters, we should go back to the old rule that both elective and appointive officials should be deemed resigned when they file their certificates of candidacies.
This will genuinely level the playing field, with the ordinary private citizen-candidates who run for public office.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court, instead of equalizing matters, worsened the inequality.
Where is the equality for ordinary citizen-candidate Juan dela Cruz?
Where is the equal protection of the law here?
Lets go to the fundamentals: Is a private citizen-candidate a second class candidate?
Are public officials-candidates a special breed?
The majority of the Supreme Court justices only looked at the equality between elective and appointive officials who run for public office.
They did not bother to look at the equality between a public official candidate (elective or appointive) vis-a-vis an ordinary citizen -candidate.
Where will the ordinary citizen-candidate Juan dela Cruz petition for equality before the law, now?