We, the undersigned faculty members, researchers, students and staff of UP Diliman, stand together to oppose the latest attempt to manipulate the Constitution to advance the personal political agenda of the President and her minions.
House of Representatives Resolution 1109 purports merely to talk about the “modes” of proposing changes in the Constitution. Yet it actually formalizes the official position of the House that the 1987 Constitution empowers the Congressmen to propose constitutional changes without the votes of the Senators. All it takes, says HR 1109, is merely “three-fourths of the ‘members of Congress’ without distinction as to which institution of Congress they belong to.” That reading defies the structure of a bicameral Congress, dilutes the Senators’ votes, and exploits gaps in the Constitution’s text to pervert its underlying spirit.
Next, they try to force the hand of the Supreme Court – supremely confident, as it were, of the Court’s validation. They proclaim that “a justiciable controversy … shall ripen for judicial determination … when this Resolution is filed, heard, and approved.” Yet whether a case is ripe for adjudication is an issue that is for the Court, and not for Congress, to determine.
This is not the first time that the ruling majority in the Lower House has bullied its way to flout republican governance. They have repeatedly blocked all attempts to hold President Arroyo to account: for the Garci tapes that betrayed a sinister plot to cheat in the 2004 presidential elections; the ZTE-NBN telecommunications scandal; and for the unending extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations.
They mistake the triumph of numbers for the triumph of principle. They have consistently ignored public opinion and have dared us to muster the warm bodies to overturn their vote. When some citizens attempt to do so with People Power, they insist that we work within the system and its institutions. Yet whenever we turn to such institutions – the justice system, the Ombudsman and the Congress – we are frustrated time and again by those who would decide not on the strength of our case but on their loyalties to their political patrons.
It is bad enough that Arroyo has cheated her way into the Presidency. Terrible that she has used the Presidency to prostitute the agencies of government into loyal courtiers-in-waiting. Abominable that she has used the public treasury to purchase the allegiance of politicians-for-sale. And unforgiveable that she will take us for fools who will look the other way as she and her allies waylay the very Constitution by which alone she – possessing neither moral legitimacy nor mass-based political support – remains in power.
We must stop the slow death of our democracy and save it by all means peaceful and effective, in the courtrooms or in the streets, through the logic of constitutional persuasion or the raw power of popular outrage.
Initial signatories of the statement include UP’s three sectoral regents (Faculty Regent Judy Taguiwalo, Student Regent Charisse Banez, Staff Regent Clodualdo Cabrera), UP Professor Emeritus and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Former Vice President for Academic Affairs Maris Diokno, Former College of Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, Former CSSP Dean Consuelo Paz, Former CSWCD Dean Angelito Manalili, Former CMC Dean Luis Teodoro, CMC Dean Rolando Tolentino, UP Math Professor Fidel Nemenzo, All UP Workers Union National President Noli Anoos, All UP Academic Employees Union General Secretary Melania Lagahit-Abad, Fomer Department of History Chair Ferdinand Llanes, Department of Journalism Professor Danilo Arao, Politica Science Professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer, Dr. Rosario de Santos, Dr. Edilberto Villegas, CSWCD College Secretary Dr. Mel Luna, CONTEND Secretary General Sarah Raymundo and former UP Student Regents Ken Ramos, Terry Ridon and Shan Abdulwahid