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Party-list anomaly must be excised

Have you noticed the obvious attempt of Malacañang to portray presidential assistant Christopher “Bong” Go as somebody very close to President Duterte, and who is now interested in the public welfare?

There are photos of Go appearing with the President. This leads me to conclude that there are efforts to make him a viable senatorial candidate.

I don’t know Go in person. The only thing I know is that he has been the long-time assistant of Mr. Duterte, starting from when they were still in Davao City. But does that make him good senatorial material?

Sure, anybody can run for the Senate. Under the Constitution, one only has to be a Filipino citizen, to be of age, and to know how to read and write.

As a voter, I would like to know more about Go—his academic credentials, his background in public service, his convictions and beliefs.

***

Santa Banana, Chief Justice-on leave Maria Lourdes Sereno and her supporters must be getting desperate. The Supreme Court is expected to decide soon on the quo warranto petition against her. This questions her qualifications to become chief justice from the start. And then, there is the looming impeachment trial.

Now Sereno and her lawyers want the United Nations to step in because of the President’s alleged intervention on judicial independence.

I am at a loss on what they mean by this. When the President branded Sereno as the enemy, did that necessarily interfere with the judiciary? The President said this after Sereno accused him of being the architect of her woes.

There will be an impeachment trial at the Senate. There is a quo warranto petition being heard. How are these intervention, as well?

Why do they come crying to the UN when the civil, political and human rights of Sereno have never been violated?

Santa Banana, Sereno is not the judiciary!

***

The committee drafting proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution should not forget one of the biggest anomalies of the fundamental law of the land—the creation of party-list groups supposedly representing marginalized sectors of society.

The provision on party-list representation was in the Cory Constitution because of the assumption that the parliamentary system of government installed by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos would continue.

The intention was good, no doubt. Unfortunately, the delegates voted to have a presidential system – the parliamentarians lost by one, I repeat one, vote.

I consider this an anomaly because under a unitary and republican form of government, we already have duly-elected members of Congress. It’s a duplication of representation!

Worse, those allegedly representing the marginalized are themselves politicians or members of the communist sector! Thus, we now have members of Congress speaking for rebels and terrorists.

Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. should be reminded of this.

***

An interesting aspect of impeachment cases is expounded on by the American scholar Charles L. Black Jr., who asked: What is the right standard of judging guilt in impeachment proceedings?

He says these are: Preponderance of evidence, clear and convincing evidence, overwhelming preponderance of evidence, and evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

He said that the usual non-criminal rule is that the facts are determined by mere preponderance of evidence as that preponderance registers with the judge or jury. He added: In a criminal rule, on the other hand, guilt must be established beyond reasonable doubt.

Black adds, and this could well apply to the looming impeachment trial at the Senate: Weighing the facts, I would be sure that one might not be satisfied, or anything near satisfied, with mere preponderance of evidence in an ordinary civil case, but perhaps must be satisfied with something a little less than the beyond-reasonable-doubt standard of ordinary criminal trial in the full literal meaning of the standard. “Overwhelming preponderance of evidence comes perhaps as close as present legal language can to denote the desired standard.”

The problem here as we know is that while the Rules of Court may be observed in a Senate trial of an impeachable public official, the case is neither civil nor criminal. There are many factors that can come in, like personal biases and partisanship.

That’s perhaps what Sereno is banking on.

***

The demise of my good friend and former colleague Nestor Mata at the defunct Philippines Herald brings memories of when I was business editor at that paper.

I was thrown in the company of other business editors. Notable among them were Ernie Ilustre of the Manila Times, Bienvenido Calleja and Salvador Bigay of the Manila Chronicle, Bernie Ronquillo of the Manila Bulletin, Charlie Castaneda of the Evening News, Johnny Redoblado and Tesoro de Guzman of the Daily Mirror.

We had an association called Business Writers Association of the Philippines. I was voted president twice.

The BWAP was already an existing organization when I joined the Herald in 1955, and it continued as an influential association until the late 1960.

Since I am basically a loner, I did not mingle too much with the other reporters and editors.

I made an exception for Nestor, whom I used to drive home to Project 8 where the Newsmen’s Row was located.

I miss those good old days. But here I am, at 90, still pounding on my typewriter. 

Topics: Christopher “Bong” Go , Nestor Mata , Reynato Puno , Aquilino Pimentel Jr , Charles L. Black Jr , Maria Lourdes Sereno , Malacañang
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