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An unconstitutional bill

"I am shocked at Cayetano’s ignorance."

 

 

Santa Banana, just when the people thought that the aggravation of ABS-CBN and all the bleeding hearts condemning the cease and desist order by the National Telecommunications Commission, was over, now comes a shocker: That bill sponsored by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, providing provisional franchise to the network until October 31, 2020, is patently questionable because it is unconstitutional!

The said bill, passed on First and Second Reading in one day, is unconstitutional because the 1987 Constitution says that no bill passed by either house shall become a law unless it is passed on three separate readings on SEPARATE DAYS (caps mine). Printed copies thereof in its final form should be given to its members before its passage, except when the president certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereof shall be allowed and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.

My nephew, former Duterte corporate counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado, emailed me this after he wrote in his Inquirer-bandera column about the unconstitutionality of the Cayetano bill.

People are beginning to realize the grave blunder committed by the House when it passed on first and second reading the franchise bill on the same day.

The Constitution is very clear. In October 1995, the Supreme Court, in a decision on Arturo Tolentino versus the Secretary of Finance, cited this provision on the passage of bills on separate days, unless the bill is certified by the President as urgent and necessary.

I wrote earlier that I was surprised at this sudden move after the ABS-CBN shutdown, and after there were comments that the mess was entirely the fault of the House leadership, particularly Cayetano. The franchise expired on May 4 because of the House’s inaction, and the network was shut down the next day. And then, all of a sudden, Cayetano himself was pushing the bill.

But why a provisional franchise when there are at least 11 bills filed to renew the 25-year franchise? After October 31, the whole process will repeat itself.

What surprised me was the ignorance of Speaker Cayetano about this very basic constitutional provision. It’s unforgivable that a Speaker would be unaware that the bill he was endorsing was unconstitutional.

Was this intentional on the part of Cayetano?

I am also surprised that some senators say they are ready to act on this bill. Are they not aware of the constitutional provision? Are these the supposedly bright lawmakers we elected into office?

The bottom line is that it is premature for ABS-CBN to celebrate.

Speaking of bleeding hearts, here comes Senator Grace Poe as chairman of the public services committee set to probe the shutdown of the network. But there is a very clear conflict of interest here when we consider that ABS-CBN has a contract with the Poe family for the copyright of “Ang Probinsyano.” Santa Banana, Grace Poe should be the last person to be involved in this probe!

**

When the Inter-Agency Task Force and President Duterte approved the guidelines for easing the Enhanced Community Quarantine and put in place the so-called Modified ECQ, I felt the move was premature.

My feeling was precipitated by an announcement by the Health Department that with the increase of testing activities now numbering 9,000 daily, it expects a rise in COVID-19 cases.

I expected the lockdown in risky areas to continue until May 31. I fear now that things have been too sudden.

I saw those online photos of people rushing to go out and ignoring social distancing protocols.

I am afraid that the IATF and the President may have been pressured to adopt the modified ECQ because many have lost jobs and livelihood. I can certainly understand that. Let us just hope that we don’t lose what we have gained from several weeks of ECQ.

I guess it will be worse when government people return to work.

**

The filing of criminal cases against Major General Debold Sinas for violating quarantine protocol during his birthday party must be pursued.

It must be noted that people involved in the birthday bash are all persons of authority. How can they convince us that nobody is above the law?

Topics: Emil Jurado , House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano , ABS-CBN , National Telecommunications Commission , NTC , franchise , Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine , MECQ , Inter-Agency Task Force , IATF , Major General Debold Sinas
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