Of second terms and judicial overreach

Lourdes-Sereno-oathtakingOne would think that a constitution ought to be a stabilizing document, a force for clarity and reason and good behavior. But the Philippine Constitution is not. It is a tool vested interests manipulate to get their way.

You see, that is the problem with adopting American style democratic constitutional processes in a nation has different cultural values. American constitutional rules install rational concepts of fairness and freedom that unify the people. The rule book is not changed whenever a problem is met. It is merely re-interpreted by the Supreme Court, which slides the nation’s rules left or right depending on judicial interpretation.

Filipinos, as we have seen, have different values. They prize personal relationships and the fluid pursuit of self interest over the discipline of playing within the rules. Thus, when a constitutional decision goes against them, they try to change the rule book.

So what’s a blogger to do? Am I to critique Filipino acts based on American ways, or on Filipino ways?

The American Interpretation

The Philippine Supreme Court is not practicing overreach. It is just making judgments that confine Executive. That IS checking and balancing. And Executive pushback is also allowed. Jawboning, motions for reconsideration, working with the Legislature on new laws – perfectly fine.

Revising the Constitution?

No. No. That would be a legalistically endowed coup. The mechanism for amendment is so intricate that it is almost impossible to it pull off. Thomas Jefferson and his pals saw the danger if expedience is used to undermine the rules for near-term advantage.

The Constitution is precious. It gives the nation stability and longevity.

The Filipino Interpretation

The Constitution is a mess, obviously. That’s why everyone disagrees with it.

Every one disagrees with it because no one is willing to sacrifice their personal interest for long term stability, for the national interest. Well, not “no one” exactly. I exaggerate. But most do not like bearing such sacrifice. Living within the rules is hell for people with ethical values that are inside out, that prize advantage over accountability.

The concepts of unity, of union, of sacrifice for union, do not apply here. Even the idealists are not after union, the leftists, the women’s rights advocates, the Church, the atheists, the gays and lesbians . . . They are in pursuit of THEIR own particular interests, and to hell with finding a way to bring us together.

It is a game of thrones, you dig?

So the President need not suck it up and leave office. He is entitled to change the rules.

And if he can figure out a way, he can roll back Supreme Court rulings, toss the Chief Justice, or otherwise game the system to his advantage.

Now, if the President is fundamentally a good guy, the Philippines can advance. If the President is a bad guy or ineffective, the Philippines goes backward or stands in place.

You can judge the capability of prior presidents based on Philippine progress.

Judicial Overreach

Well, I don’t think the Supreme Court overreached in its DAP ruling. I think it underperformed on insight and wisdom and fell onto its legalistically narrow ass. That is no basis for revising the Constitution.

It is a reasonable basis for a motion for reconsideration, or for changing how the Executive and House work on budget variances and special needs.

Frankly, I think the Supreme Court has been performing well. No, MAJESTICALLY, to correct the rash of flawed legislative documents originating from an ethically and competency challenged Legislature, which in turn is bowing too easily to a favor and power-mongering Executive. Take that horrid Cybercrime abomination as an example, with its criminalized libel and presumption of guilt. Or the HR package.

Those of us who do a lot of writing quickly get over our writer’s pride and accept editorial judgments because more heads think way better than one. Same in corporate work. Brainstorming and bringing in cross-discipline thinking is the key to problem solving and success.

Executive, I think, is exercising too much hubris and not enough appreciation for the work of the Court.

Term Limits

Well, I can draw up my for and against lists as well as the next guy, and choose to err on the side of pithy:


  1. It is the only way to stop Binay and assure a continuation of the straight path.
    • Roxas is not measuring up.
    • No one else has the stature or clout


  1. It weakens the Constitution, to revise it for expediency.
    • It weakens Philippine democracy.
  2. It will cause the opposing voices to coagulate, to unify, and create a magnificent force that will assure that either a coup occurs or Binay is elected.
    • Unity of crooks, rebels, political opponents, leftist idealogues, Chinese spies, Catholics and hired malcontents.
    • There is a lot of money behind the opposition.


This is the Philippines. Expediency wins the day. Go for it, Mr. President.

Refresh your understanding of martial law while you are at it.


66 Responses to “Of second terms and judicial overreach”
  1. Red Snapper says:

    Hi JoeA,
    It is both a pleasure and honor to be able to read real unbiased commentaries like yours. You are so prolific that sometimes I wonder where you get the time to come up with gems like this. Thank you so much.
    Red Snapper

  2. vernon says:

    Hi Joe:

    Well written.

    I guess the president has/is tempted to resort to the use of martial law because of what’s going on. I fully understand where he is at. He has, despite what others may say, good intentions. There’s a sampling of acceptable results from his “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path)” program. Prominent among them is the return of the country to investmentment grade rating. This is an undeniable fact. That his efforts were littered with perceived malfeasances by his people, PDAP, DAP, etc. was bound to be a consequence. You see, as you have stated in your previous blogs, his attempt involved a recasting of values and some political old dogs whose lives were unsettled would, naturally, resist. They would include media practitioners and influence peddlers who were benefitting from the old order. Hence, the use of “golpe” in the form of a centrist coup is very tempting indeed. Very.

    That said, there are other options. Among the present crop of national political leaders are good ones. It is not that late for Aquino to consider choosing his successor. He already has a feel of those who are undeserving, prominent among which is Binay. Consequently, it would just be a matter of choosing their opposites. It’s not rocket science and there is a precedent. His mother, the late Cory Aquino, did it when she chose Fidel Ramos, then Defense Secretary, over Ramon Mitra, who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Personally, I believed she made a good choice.

    Not a centrist coup. Not another constitutional amendment. Just plain common sense.

    More power.


    • Joe America says:

      Indeed, the voices of opposition are not willing to play by the implied sense of union and calm that ought to emanate from the constitution and respect for democratic processes. They march about demanding impeachment on trivial grounds and parade down Roxas and test police barriers, rather than electing people who can speak calmly and democratically. In a zoo, justice is sometimes served by being the biggest lion.

      Within the system that exists.

      • Joe America says:

        You cause me to reflect. The stridency of opposition, the critics and crooks, the baying of the wolves, is way too loud to be healthy. It is itself a violation of the stability that a constitution stands for. They will argue that it is their constitutional right to protest. But then they, like the narrow Supreme Court ruling, end up working against the SPIRIT of the constitution, which is for stability and good faith progress.

        I wonder if the President will unify his following – making IT stand up and shout – or split it by agreeing to consider a second term. Thereby fueling a greater fire.

        It’s never boring in the Philippines.

  3. brianitus says:

    To be fair with the president, I think he’s just toying around with the idea of term extension and charter revision. However, I don’t know if it was worth his time to fish for feedback.

    I super agree with you that his stand on the constitution and term limits might be the catalyst everyone in the opposition is waiting for. I have a feeling that we’re in for more statements from the opposition. You’re going to eat more popcorn soon, Uncle Joe.

    Honestly, I really hate it whenever politicians start acting like they’re a blessing and cite the voice of the people blah-blah-blah as justification. Heck, even Arroyo felt that way when they stepped in to end Erap’s term. Ramos also had something similar. I think this is where they all fail as leaders. They can’t develop anyone to take over and win in an election. Blah.

    Seriously, 2016 is still a long way to go. I believe that someone good enough might come out to challenge the boogeymen. Maybe someone can promise to push the price of beer back to 20 pesos and win everything. 😛

    • Joe America says:

      I hate it when you start thinking like me and giving people the benefit of the doubt. ahahahaha But I agree with your every word, especially the beer. And politicians believing they are idols.

      I think the President would be going outside the straight path to play by the old rules. And rather than weakening the judiciary, how about upping the skill level, ethical fiber, and strength of the Legislature by mandating parties that are based on platform rather than personality, and disallow frog-hopping to new parties for convenience. Maybe we’d get some skill into lawmaking and the Supreme Court would not have to endlessly re-write the slop that emanates from the Legislature. It’s a pit of dynastic mediocrity.

      OMG, I’ve had too much coffee.

      • brianitus says:

        Beer is the greatest hook for me. LOL.

        I think the president should work to strengthen the institutions. I mean, that was their battle cry when they impeached Corona. Now, they say that the SC is doing too much just because a ruling was unfavorable? I know that from time to time, one has to contradict oneself, but that should be mainly for personal issues. This is something that could affect future generations.

        I agree that parties should really start acting like political parties, representing an ideal, a platform, a path to progress. I hate to say this, but those leftists are doing a better job in terms of coming up with a united front. At least you know what they represent, which is also the reason why they can’t get mainstream appeal. If the other parties could just clarify what they stand for, then maybe choosing an ideal candidate won’t be so tough.

        On lawmaking and governance, I will always revert to what my old boss used to tell me: “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”

        I love that term, pit of dynastic mediocrity. Sounds like a great blog idea there.

        Have some noodles to balance out the coffee.

  4. Jules Lombard says:

    Cha-cha will weaken our democracy? What democracy? Our votes, almost without exception, are for sale. You can’t have a democracy if your government goes to the highest bidder. So, yes, PNoy, you must stay for another term. The guy who is working up a sweat in the gym can’t be trusted with the nation’s Treasury. It’s about time the people won, not just some PEOPLE – the powerful and corrupt people who think that our Treasury is a pizza pie – something to be cut into eight or sixteen pieces for distribution to the powerful and the corrupt. I know, the distinction between powerful and corrupt is a false choice.

    • Joe America says:

      That is indeed the weakness or failing of this particular democracy. The voting is not based on information (platforms, understanding of results of poor choices) but on people and money. So you have zeroed in exactly on the risk if it is allowed to put in office a “power and favor” pro.

      I wonder though. I wonder if ENOUGH thought and energy has gone into the stopping of vote-buying or education of the broad masses to overcome the illusions attached to name or the backing of a really good candidate with all the power of the good people focused to outweigh the shouting of the destructionists.

  5. Bing Garcia says:

    You yourself say it will weaken democracy, so why recommend to the president to go for it.

    • Joe America says:

      That is my “call to thought”. I concede that, by Philippine standards, the ones the critics in fact go by in filing frivolous impeachment complaints, power and favor, and loose adherence to laws, are the way the democratic game is played here. The straight path is aimed at changing that, but it doesn’t happen in six years. So the President is just being Filipino – and pragmatic -if he decides he must go by the old rules to gain time to fully introduce the new rules.

      Then I add the ominous follow-up thought that it will provoke new days of instability and coups, anger and lack of progress, that has so characterized dysfunctional Philippine politics. It is likely to create a LOT of conflict, which I consider the opposite of what the Philippines needs. The Philippines needs stability.

      But critics don’t want it, so there you go . . . two can play the game.

      The purpose of the blog is to ride quickly around the issue and promote further discussion. I originally was going to take the position of waiting to read what others think, then decided, nah, put some ideas out there and see where it goes.

      I’m rather like President Aquino, I guess, offering up a trial balloon and seeing which way it blows.

      What do you think about the issues, extension of term and judicial overreach?

  6. manuel buencamino says:

    “American constitutional rules install rational concepts of fairness and freedom that unify the people. The rule book is not changed whenever a problem is met. It is merely re-interpreted by the Supreme Court, which slides the nation’s rules left or right depending on judicial interpretation.”

    But Joe, the US Constitutions contains 27 amendments. And then you have the 18th amendment that came in the wake of puritan hysteria. And then 15 years later, you passed the 21st amendment to repeal the 18th amendment. Was the 21st amendment a return to rationality and unity?

    Judicial overreach is when the Court encroaches on the turf of the political branches of government, when it sometimes engages in legislation by judicial fiat.

    Appropriations and disbursement are the prerogative of the legislature and the executive. The political branches of government. They were elected to manage the nation’s funds. It is not for the Court to decide on best management practices arrived at by the legislature and the executive. If any mismanagement occurs then elected officials are accountable to the electorate and the Ombudsman.

    And there’s also the fact that Constitutional questions are not black and white. It is the Court that colors it, depending on its current composition and disposition.

    One clear case of the Court allowing an obviously unconstitutional act by the Executive is when Marcos was prohibited from returning to the country. It is clear in the Constitution that no Filipino can be prohibited from returning to the Philippines. But why did the Court uphold the prohibition?

    In the US judicial overreach was recently demonstrated when the Court reinterpreted the First Amendment in the Citizens United case. There are several other instances of overreach I’m sure you are aware of and outraged by.

    But of course judicial overreach is checks and balances to one and checks and balances is judicial overreach to the other, depending on where one sits.

    I am against amending the Constitutional provision on term limits for one simple reason. Those who want another term for Pres Aquino are doing so for two reasons: 1) Fear of a Binay (or worse) presidency 2) the assumption that no one can beat Pres. Aquino.

    I grant the first reason. Fear cannot be dismissed. But the second reason, I cannot grant. Nothing in politics is beyond the realm of possibility. Now what if Aquino loses to Binay or somebody worse? We will be stuck. The bad president will be allowed to run for reelection – and being bad we know he will do anything to win again.

    I just think the proponents of the idea of changing the constitution to lift term limits are not thinking things through. They fail to take into account that there could be negative effects to their proposal and those negative effects could far outweigh its good effects. Granting even that Aquino gets a second term and does even better. No one can predict how his successor, even if it were his chosen one, would perform.

    They remind me of those who saw how PDAF and DAP were abused by some and decided all discretionary spending was evil and thus should be eliminated. They ignored the good those programs have accomplished in the hands of honest and competent legislators. Now there are hundreds of thousands of scholars without tuition money, hundreds of thousands of poor people who have no medication, and millions who were left out of the national budget because they didn’t quite fit into the grand plan or were too small to big included in it but who through PDAF and DAP were able to avail of much needed services.

    Anyway, six years is enough. If the people did not learn anything from Aquino’s presidency then that’s their problem not Aquino’s who did his damndest best to show them the right way. The thinking class should not put on its paternal hat once again and decide what is best for those they consider ignorant.

    • Joe America says:

      Very persuasive argument, even the part where U.S. politicians are not always rational, and the current lawsuit/impeachment trend there is additional proof. I do believe, however, the Constitution of the U.S. is a more unifying document than the Philippine Constitution. People believe in it.

      Having said that, maybe the difference is not the document, but the people’s attitude toward government, politics and the document.

      Thanks for the jewels of wisdom.

    • Totally agree. I remember the very popular Brazilian president, Lula da Silva who faced a similar situation, He refused changing the constitution and running a third term saying that it is important for the country to change leaders (I can’t find the exact quote on google).

      It really boils down to Mar. He should just give up his ambition. He can’t beat Binay and we all fear a Binay presidency.

      Its still early and anything can happen.

      • Let’s persuade Grace Poe – for sure Mar won’t mind stepping aside because of unfavorable reality on ground. At least GRACE POE may defeat Binay – and Grace will put her grace in continuing straight path governance. – just a thought – ^_^ –

        • Joe America says:

          A very good thought. Be sure to catch Monday’s blog about Mar Roxas.

          I think LP, working with President Aquino, will come up with a strong alternative to Binay. Just my sense of things. Mar Roxas is mentioned as the likely candidate because no one has said he is not. So it is just guesswork. I think it is a lot more open and fluid than that, as the President suggested when he said he would reflect on a term extension. It’s wide open.

    • brianitus says:

      Hi, Mr. Buencamino,

      Loved your two points on term extension. I wish the LP had a bit of your imagination.

      The comic book fan boy in me thought this up, something that could come from the pages of What if comics:

      1. PNoy gets his term extension clause in the constitution and runs again in 2016.
      2. Binay runs for president and beats PNoy. (I think it can happen, too)
      3. Binay clan becomes a household name synonymous with the presidency, protected by the same change that allowed PNoy to run. .
      4. Binay decides to run for president of the Earth. “Ganito kami sa Makati dati. Ganito na kami sa Pilipinas. Gusto namin buong mundo.”
      5. Darna and Captain Barbell arrive to challenge the president. Well, at least in the comics.

      Personally, I am not a strong fan of PDAF because of the corruption that surrounds it. Since you mentioned the scholars and other good projects, I’ve always had this question: if projects are good, why not make them a regular thing? I guess, that’s the same question I’ve always had with DAP. Both Legislative and Executive can exercise their creative thinking to come up with alternatives.

      As suggestions, have a scholarship program ready for those academically strong (I think the Cayetanos sort of answered that recently). For the little kids, how about subsidizing meals in school? Rather than starve on the streets, just go school, learn and eat. I’m just saying this as an instant opinion, without crunching the numbers.

      Here’s another crazy thought for the fanatics, make PNoy run for VP then impeach Binay at the first offense. I have another scenario, but it’ll take the level of destruction of Clancy’s Executive Orders.

      Here’s another crazy thought: maybe the Binays are really that good. That’s why they’re still lords of Makati. I’m not a Makati resident, btw.



      • manuel buencamino says:


        The GAA is written in broad strokes. PDAF was supposed to fill-in what the GAA missed, the little unique needs of individual congressional districts. So I am for PDAF for district representatives but not for senators who are elected nationally. PDAF for senators is redundant because as nationally elected representatives their constitutency is the entire country and so the needs of their constituency is addressed – or should have been included by the senator – in the GAA. If senators have certain pet projects or causes i.e environment, education, health etc. then they can add to the budget of those national agencies that are in charge of those areas. Batasan members represent only their districts and so it is only fair that the GAA give each congressman an equal amount of money to be spent in their districts over and above the line items in the GAA. Consider it an annual dividend from national revenue for each congressional district to be spent on anything from clinics to basketball courts depending on what district residents prefer – P70M is the district constituents’ petty cash fund.

        • brianitus says:

          Thank you for the patient reply and I really got your point.

          I agree that senators shouldn’t be entitled to such allowances anymore. Anyway, that thing could’ve done a lot of good if…

          In an ideal world, that whole mechanism would’ve been awesome.

  7. Gerardo Vergara says:

    I saw this page on Facebook where the members are endorsing a second term for the President. It’s not bad as long as it will prevent a Binay presidency which is sure to happen if the Constitution would not be amended and Pnoy allowed to run for reelection. Because he is the only credible candidate whom Binay could not beat in a clean election.

    Those justices are better ignored as they had become somewhat of a nuisance – they should not have declared parts of the DAP unconstitutional because they also benefited from the funds that must be considered cross border transfer since the judiciary is a different branch of government. It’s as simple as that.

    It’s hard to understand what’s on the minds of those who are still filing impeachment complaints against the President since it is specifically stated in the Constitution that only one such complaint can be tackled by Congress every year. Did this third group think that the next Congress in 2016 will still be interested in opening said complaint?

    Or maybe they are already anticipating of a reelected Pnoy when they filed that complaint?

  8. manuel buencamino says:

    Judicial overreach is described in this article: https://suite.io/renato-bautista-jr/3e4p2j3

    “Definition of Judicial Power

    The chief function of the judicial branch is the exercise of judicial power. Unlike the US Constitution, Sec. 1, par. 2, Art. VIII of the Philippine Constitution defines judicial power as “the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.”

    According to retired Supreme Court Justice Isagani Cruz in his book Philippine Political Law, this provision of the 1987 Constitution expanded the definition of judicial power by including not only the traditional exercise of judicial power – which is the settlement of conflicting legal rights – but also giving the judiciary the power to review the exercise of discretion by the political branches of government. Justice Cruz contends that the Supreme Court can now rule even on the wisdom of the president and congress’s decision (political questions) if they are guilty of grave abuse of discretion.

    Former Constitutional Commission (body that drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution) delegate Fr. Joaquin Bernas, however, was careful to point out in his book The 1987 Philippine Constitution: A Reviewer-Primer that the expanded definition of judicial power (also known as expanded certiorari jurisdiction) did not do away with the political question doctrine (the rule that courts cannot rule on the exercise of discretion by the political branches under the principle of separation of powers), but to prevent the judiciary from shying away in its duty to review acts of the executive and legislature at the mere invocation of the political question doctrine even when there is clear abuse in the exercise of power by these branches.

    At any rate, in Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, in denying the plea for the Court not to review the impeachment proceeding brought before the House of Representatives against former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., has ruled that it is not only a power but a duty on the courts to rule on actions of the other branches of government whenever there has been a grave abuse of discretion in the exercise of their powers.”

    Because of Francisco, Jr v House of Represenatives, I favor a review that would clearly define the limits of the Supreme Court’s powers. Otherwise, we will end up fulfilling Jefferson’s warning to his fellow Founding Fathers,

    “You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps…. Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.”

    • Joe America says:

      Fascinating. It is very clear that the Supreme Court here, by being eager to rule on any legislation brought before it, has encouraged the immediate filing of a case for ALL legislation. It has, in that regard, tended toward despotic hands on re-enactment of laws rather than the removed judgment that seems to be the point of the expert commentary. And DAP as grave abuse of authority, on the exercise of forthright executive discretion, redefines abuse in my mind. I don’t see how abuse can create good ends. So color me confused, and wishing I had studied law.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        The issue centered on different interpretations of the Constitution and the Administrative Code and on the appreciation of past precedents or practices by two previous presidents. Aquino relying on past precedents and his interpretation of the Constitution and the Administrative thought he was right. The Court ignoring past precedents and interpreting the Constitution and the Administrative Code differently ruled against Aquino and even questioned his good faith. And now Aquino sees judicial overreach while the Court sees checks and balance.

        And so we go back to Jefferson to understand why this happened. And we revisit all the times that the Court has reversed itself and in the case of involving the PAL union reversed itself, reversed its reversal, reversed its reversal of the reversal, read http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/64968-philippine-supreme-court-issues to get a better understanding of the present Court.

        The FASAP-PAL court case was also in the articles of impeachment against Corona. Then Assoc Justice Sereno was willing to testify before the Senate impeachment court to expose the shenanigans in that case but her colleagues gagged her.

        • Joe America says:

          I think the Court’s response to the Aquino motion for reconsideration will be a very, very, very interesting read. It will get dissected six ways from Sunday (an expression I could never figure out).

          • vernon says:

            I can see the justices worrying. Some may even be visiting the toilets more often than usual. For one, they failed to appreciate the existence of the administrative order of then President Aquino, which was lifted from that of President Marcos. This became the basis for the adoption of the DAP. The AO was very thoroughly discussed by Raissa Robles in her blog and favorably commented upon by former Senator Rene Saguisag. The Executive’s request for recon has this as one of the program’s justifications. In addition, The Supreme Court has problems with its own version of pork barrel, the Judicial Development Fund. Stated bluntly, the court’s hands may not be that clean.

            Fun. Indeed.

            • Joe America says:

              🙂 Raissa did better homework than the SC staffers, I think. I’m thinking maybe the Court is so obsessed with the legalistic trees in the forest that, not only can they not see the forest (constitutional INTENT), they have lost the path.

  9. Gerardo Vergara says:

    I was still typing my comment when Manuel’s comment came so his question,”What if Aquino loses to Binay or somebody worse,” overlapped my sentence “Because he is the only credible candidate whom Binay could not beat in a clean election.

    I added this comment, Joe, because I think you can recall that I wrote it in one of my comments here how Binay won in 2010 due to his “superior ground organization that used for campaign paraphernalia donated items from the Denmark Red Cross to gain votes in the towns of Kalinga province” but which the late William Esposo did not expose in any of his columns then.

    So I’ll repeat, “in a clean election” since I have already seen how low (and dirty) he can go to achieve anything he wants to, and the presidency is one of his most coveted positions or he will not associate himself with the likes of Estrada and Enrile if he wanted to be regarded as a good model of clean public service..

    • Joe America says:

      I share your distaste for the Binay methods and attitude. I prefer humble folk to those who believe they are superior. The arrogance emitting from that clan, and the relentless bad decisions for self promotion (Pacquiao for senate) give me the heebie jeebies.

  10. letlet says:

    We must note that SC judicial overreach has regenerated to “judicial adventurism” as exemplified in its flip flopping on the reinstatement of 1,400 PAL flight attendants in October 2011. It also flip flopped on its decision on the creation of the sixteen Cityhood Laws

    Furthermore, the SC has an obligation to the public to spell out on how it utilizes the Judicial Development Fund (JDF), the pork barrel of the SC.The issues and principles of accountability and transparency apply to all branches of government. It is not above the law.

    By the Presidential Decree # 1449 signed by F. Marcos in 1984, 80% of JDF should be spent for cost of living allowances (COLA) of employees while the 20% should be used for the purchase of office equipment and other facilities.

    As of June 30, 2013, the cumulative balance of this 20% is P 1.775 billion, and not being spent as judges and court employees have been complaining they lack computers, stationers and their courts are dilapidated.

    Iloilo Rep. Tupas said COA has uncovered questionable transactions made by JDF in 2012 which include the deposit of 300 million in a high – yield savings account at Landbank of Philippine and allocations of 10 million allotment for loans for employees ( motorcycle and gun loans taken already).

    SC appeared to have used JDF for purposes other than those under PD # 1449. For the doctrine of accountability and transparency, SC has to submit itself on the House investigation on its questionable transactions.

  11. macspeed says:

    @Joe Am

    The Supreme Court (SC) decisions following sections of Law as the final verdict cause the defendant or a subject to file for Motion for Consideration (MFC). MFC became a typical responses and expectations both the justices and the public. With critical issues such as DAP, judgment should be analyzed first before making public. The SC lack of perspective for general outcome of any decision can be checked and balance via groups of advisers whom will provide quality assurance for the benefit of the whole country. A group of checker is required for SC decision, the justices are human and they are not God that all decisions are 100% correct, they can make mistakes. They acted in the past assumed 100% correct but some errors were corrected via motion for considerations (which is already abused). The checker can be a private organization not politically biased but for the people and economy, the checker system is less expensive than a Referendum. As you noticed, the SC decision that the DAP is unconstitutional were used by the reds to file impeachment case, some opposition also ride on the issue of DAP.

  12. cha says:

    “This is the Philippines. Expediency wins the day. Go for it, Mr. President.

    Refresh your understanding of martial law while you are at it.”

    Lol. May I add , look up the symptoms of manic-depressive disorder as well.

    • Joe America says:

      yes haha, I was twitching when I wrote those lines . . . 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • cha says:

        Seriously though, I agree with your position on the issue of judicial overreach and with MB on term limits.

        I am also serious about the President needing some form of intervention or help in processing and dealing with the stress he’s had to endure these last couple of years. I think some cracks are really beginning to show.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, MB’s argument is very strong. I like Waldon Bello’s take on the president, which was something along the line of “He HAS to be joking.”

          • cha says:

            Or he’s just gone mad. Hehe.

            But then again, the great ones apparently are anyway :

            “When times are good and the ship of state only needs to sail straight, mentally healthy people function well as political leaders. But in times of crisis and tumult, those who are mentally abnormal, even ill, become the greatest leaders. We might call this the Inverse Law of Sanity.”

            “When traditional approaches begin to fail, however, great crisis leaders see new opportunities. When the past no longer guides the future, they invent a new future. When old questions are unanswerable and new questions unrecognized, they create new solutions. They are realistic enough to see painful truths, and when calamity occurs, they can lift up the rest of us.”

            -Nassir Ghaemi , professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center. This essay is adapted from his new book, “A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness.”



            • Joe America says:

              First of all, whoever designed that link had to be mad, as opposed to Twitter’s 8 characters or somesuch. Second of all, I’ve determined that there is no such thing as sanity, and the Philippine and American and Australian (ahahahaha) political characters go a long way toward proving that point. Finally, related to the point of the article, and the sadness of Robin William’s death, great genius and the hyper-sensitivity that go along with the causes of depression, are sometimes both riding the same horse.

              • cha says:

                It’s a different kind of crazy we have with the government down under. The Treasurer, for instance, just defended the decision to increase excise tax on fuel by saying that such a move will mostly affect the rich people anyway, them having all these cars to drive around while the poor people don’t even drive at all. Hah! Your Sarah Palin will feel right at home in this government.

              • Joe America says:

                What do I offer, condolences or what? Sarah Palin is a certified nut case. Even republicans shudder.

  13. JM says:

    It is a game of thrones, you dig? – Made my day. Somehow I pictured them dressed up as the characters with background music lol

    Is this a typo? spies not spys. sorry I am OC.

    • Joe America says:

      I typed that blog really really fast and my Chinese typewriter intentionally screwed it up. Those guys are everywhere stirring up trouble. (Thanks. Be sure to take your meds.)

  14. andrewlim8 says:


    With so much fluidity on this issue, it’s very difficult to make solid prognoses/diagnoses on how this will develop. All the players are posturing, feigning, testing, floating balloons, etc.

    How about if Pnoy runs for VP?

    That is not disallowed. Binay is too strong to defeat. But he is not likely to allow a lynching of Pnoy and LP during his term, so that can be an acceptable situation. It will also likely help retain LP members in Congress.

    If Binay and his cohorts misbehave, then the people can rally around Pnoy and oust Binay through a popular revolt. a ha ha ha

    Note: It is important to sort the garbage noise (discussed in my previous piece) on the matter and pick only those who are making it out of principle. The garbage comes from the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist groups (both legal and underground), the Arroyo and Marcos loyalists and their writers, and the perennially corrupt characters.

    These groups have an agenda of destruction and should be ignored.

    • Joe America says:

      We need a large official National Compost Pile (NCP) where we can consign the destructionists to rot along with the coffee grounds and moldy bread. Mr. Aquino as VP would be great, but I don’t think he’ll do it, and, frankly, he deserves the right to go out on dates without being harassed.

  15. I prefer a 2nd term for PNOY than a looming Binay presidency… will less than 2 years be enough to amend the constitution and pave the way for him to run again?

    The social media comments against Binay seem to fail to make dent on his approval ratings… I’m so frustrated just thinking of the masa vote that will surely install him as the next president…The thinking middle class is outnumbered by the unthinking, desperate, uninformed or blind, and the poor masa..

    Maybe, just maybe.. by the end of his 2nd term, the economic gains from his 2 terms would finally trickle down to the poor so they would not be so easy to deceive like now and voter education can be effectively done. Future corrupt presidents who will seek 2nd term will not succeed if we have a well informed and not so economically challenged electorate.

    Look at how Estrada became number 2 in the last presidential election, and now, he’s the mayor of Manila … the national economy is suffering because of his truck ban, surely national welfare takes precedence over local needs… why can’t he relocate the squatters along PNR railways (as suggested by an Inquirer columnist, Neal something) so goods from the port can be transported using trains. Oh, I forgot, those comprise his masa supporters and voters…

    So what will happen to these PDAF cases involving Binay’s political friends once he is elected? Another case of legalistic mambo that will stand in the way of progress…God help us all…!

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I would expect Binay to pardon the UNA legislators, calling them politically inspired charges. I think social media mavens don’t compete with locals who rely on word of mouth, which Binay OWNS through is loyal local following and prospective rich people, under his lead. The nation needs to awaken with a loud scream, “No No No!” That should be a two year scream. Guinness record probably.

      • Binay’s alleged use of Makati’s wealth to adopt various LGUs nationwide as sister cities/towns have helped solidify his grass roots support. Money talks and oh so eloquently, I can only pity the truly poor ones who have to prioritize feeding their hungry children or getting medical attention to their urgent affliction but those heads of various LGUs and congress supporters are different species altogether..sycophants all… personal interest is the language they understand

  16. andrewlim8 says:


    Binay is considering Manny Pangilinan to be his VP. Erap wants Binay to consider Jinggoy.

    What do they all have in common? Two have made millions or billions while serving in government, while the other one made billions while in private industry.

    As the professional heckler said, if Binay chooses Pangilinan, then that will be a tandem of a hardworking and intelligent man who made billions and Manny Pangilinan. LOL

  17. Gerardo Vergara says:

    It;s still a long way to go till election 2016. Anything can happen. Binay’s almost sure ride to the presidency can still be derailed by unforeseen events, not necessarily with an amended Constitution that will allow the President to run again, but by something that no one can say could happen for sure.

    The cases filed against him in Makati is a good reminder to all of us about his corrupt ways; then there is the petition against his political dynasty.

    I will just wait and see.

  18. Richard JP Cavosora says:

    I could not help but post your article on my FB page. This was my intro:

    Because part of my thinking has been “Americanized”, I often find sense in Joe America’s opinions, ideas, and general principles. He is an American who has been domiciled in the Philippines by virtue of marriage to a Filipina. His heart is Filipino and beats for the country’s progress. Personally, our 27 year old constitution needs to be upgraded but not to add another term for the presidency, not to clip the powers of the Supreme Court, and definitely not to change the rules before the 2016 elections (perhaps immediately after).

  19. Dick S. O'Rosary says:

    For a moment I took you for a pro-executive power/discretionary power kind of guy. Its like a breath of fresh air in this blog. I hope I get this right and you’re not just being sarcastic.

    I was born after the 1987 constitution was enacted, and I agree that some economic provisions have to be changed as well as the form of government, but the system of checks and balances to me is sacred. Art. VII of the civil code states “executive power is vested in the president etc.” it does not make a specific list of powers exactly, not like Art. VI on the legislature and VIII on the judiciary which lists very specific powers. This has allowed the construction that “any power not listed as judicial or legislative power is executive power”. This construction actually gives a bit of breathing room for the president and can allow the president’s powers to expand over time as the circumstances allow. When Aquino came out with the declaration that he is in favor of charter change to allow a second term and to reduce the power of the judiciary, I felt insulted (“binabastos” is probably more accurate).

    Mr. America, your observation is accurate, the Filipinos don’t look at the presidency the same way the Americans do and that’s what makes this scenario so scary, because its seems very plausible. The fact of the matter is, Filipinos are just so easily beholden by hose in power and readily trusting. We have not yet developed the faculties that allow us to think critically for democracy to work (of which having checks and balances is an integral part of the Philippines’ current style of democracy) which is why our politics is still personality driven: the elections is looked upon as Binay vs. Aquino when it should be about platforms (i.e. how will you deal with poverty, how will you deal with our allies and enemies, tax reform etc.).

    Anyway, I’m not going to disagree with you. In fact, I expected you to defend the president which is why I was so pleasantly surprised and I was compelled to write this. Thanks.

    • Joe America says:

      Welcome to the Society, Dick, and thanks for the interesting perspective. My main intent is completely serious, namely, learning and provoking thought that is intended to be constructive. I do use drama and word play from time to time, so you have to sift out when I am serious and when not. Either way, if it encourages constructive thinking, all’s well..

      I think the President’s remarks have gotten twisted out of context, and that he will not try to get a second term to stay in power. The context of his remark had to do with judicial overreach and him having an open mind to what people believe should be done. Not “I am the way, so I’m going to stay in power”. He is really fried by some of the Supreme Court’s recent acts, for example denying BIR judge SALN’s so BIR could examine the shady character “Arlene” who is accused of making payoffs to judges for favorable decisions. And the recent DAP ruling. And the SC re-writing of laws he has signed.

      That said, I personally think he is over-reacting.

      I understand your concern about the balance of powers and wariness about powerful people using their power to bad ends, to keep that power. You are for sure not alone on that.

      • R.Hiro says:

        Your perspective is totally OFF……Governmental Institutions in the Philippines are ERSATZ in reality… Superficial!!!!!!!

        Reading between the lines of numerous World Bank reports show that the long term challenges for the ersatz state remains to be administrative capacities…

        When the geniuses in Bush II government destroyed the Iraqi state under Saddam and attempted to reconstruct a new one they failed miserably and literally and figuratively lost billions in resources since there were no institutions left standing and thus who would administer the rebuilding????

        The biggest problem the Aquino government faced and is facing is similar.
        You cannot reform a culture of patronage and personality embedded within the state’s institutions.

        Aquino’s lamentations in his report to the nation was a plea…..Any reformer needs time and must first raise consciousness that we are a sick country trying to become a nation.

        Maria Serena Diokno has edited a serious book on Democracy and Citizenship in Filipino Culture and below are excerpts fro a speech she gave recently to the MAP….

        We need a cultural revolution on the scale of the French Revolution….

        So far the present occupant of the Palace has failed to grab the bull by the horns.

        His bosses are disgusted with the rot in all three branches of government. That is the problem he has filed to elucidate…..


        “But the root of the problem was the lack of what Rizal called “national
        sentiment:” The lack of national sentiment brings another evil which is the
        absence of all opposition to measures prejudicial to the people and
        the absence of any initiative in whatever may redound to its good. A
        man in the Philippines is nothing more but an individual; he is not a
        member of a nation.”

        “Central to Rizal’s concept of the nation was the idea of collectivity, of
        conjoining individuals into a whole. He likened the nation to a human body “whose
        cells do not seem to have either an arterial system to irrigate it or a nervous system
        to communicate its impressions.” The nation as a natural, living, vibrant body,
        able to function as a whole, was the force behind Rizal’s drive against corruption
        and abuse. He bemoaned the attitude of letting things be or doing nothing as this
        would keep the arterial and nervous systems of the nation in a dormant state and
        eventually lead to stagnation. Fortunately, Rizal saw signs of life. “There are, however,” he wrote, “those who are starting to see clearly and they do everything within their power.”

        “Fortunately, Rizal saw signs of life. “There are, however,” he wrote, “those
        who are starting to see clearly and they do everything within their power
        did not live to see much beyond these early signs but his moral imperative against
        corruption resonates to this day. Our task, though, has become immensely more
        difficult because, as you can see, we aren’t starting from newly minted ways and
        attitudes that create a thriving environment for corruption. We are battling against
        deeply entrenched outlooks, approaches, modes and habits within a broader
        context of poverty and social inequity; an electoral system lop-sided in favor of the
        popular and the wealthy; and a judicial system that responds more readily to those
        with means.”

        “Amidst this complex situation, the simplest of measures appear to be the
        soundest, yet they are the most difficult, namely: that change starts from but does
        not end at the top, which applies both to government and the private sector and, as
        Pope Francis ably shows us, to the Church as well; that painstaking research and
        investigation must be made of those likely to be guilty, in government and out; and
        that based on unassailable evidence and following due process, the guilty are
        punished. Once these changes take place, citizens will invariably see that
        corruption does not pay, and that they themselves can expect to be punished if
        they engage in or abet corrupt acts. “

        • Joe America says:

          I appreciate the thought provoking comment. I presume you mean that my thinking is off because it presumes the three Philippine bodies of government can get somewhere by acting in a Jeffersonian way, as legitimate bodies of a functioning democracy. That, because they are superficial and built on values of self-service rather than nation, they can’t function in a Jeffersonian way. Jefferson presumed the common bond of nationhood would drive toward good, which it generally has in the U.S. if you consider wealth and health to be the measurement standards. So the only way my thinking can be “not off” is to demand revolution and replacement of the false democracy.

          Well, I’m not there yet, and as a foreigner, would advise myself never to go there. Things are changing, and I don’t know if for the good or bad. I’m not sure many people are becoming more learned about their government, but instead are becoming more adamant and taxing in their harsh judgments. Nationhood to me demands sacrifice, and I don’t see how revolution will instill that. However, intellectual enlightenment will. I am often dismayed (reading article discussion threads) and occasionally uplifted by sincere expressions of patriotism (reading the latest Riassa Robles blog). Here’s the link: http://raissarobles.com/2014/08/16/bukas-na-liham-para-sa-pangulong-aquino/

          I’ll go with enlightenment over revolution.

          • R.Hiro says:

            Historians and academics from the U.S. have pointed out that Jefferson ideals of liberal democracy was much more poetry than prose.

            It was Alexander Hamilton who supplied the ideas of brick and mortar that set up the foundations for the then struggling confederation. It was he who actually laid the physical foundations for nationhood. His ideas of a central monetary authority was the primordial precursor to transforming the U.S. into an industrial society.

            Liberal democracy in the West came about as a direct result of the Industrial Revolution. The quantitative and qualitative changes it brought about changed the pace of societal revolution.

            The establishment of rules to govern the newly formed contradictions between capital and labor forced the establishment of effective states.

            The 19th and 20th centuries were both periods of extreme upheavals culminating in the rapid productivity and efficiency of modern warfare spawned by the industrial and mechanized forms war. Macro economics was invented to give effective States tools to manage industrial economies and prevent societal collapses.

            The “animal spirits” of the markets had to be contained by effective States and civil society. Jeffersonian utopia was based on an agricultural utopia of plenty supported by slavery. Civil society being the state of affairs where the rule of law prevails. Without it and a tolerable system of justice you have stagnation and severe dysfunctions.

            Reading through the link you mentioned it is clear that ignorance prevails about the roots of the benign and good financial condition of the Philippine economy in 2010 when the present government came into power.

            The relative good health of the financial economy of the Philippines is a direct result of foreign savings, not the Aquino government. It has been covering what could be painful consequences of the massive trade deficit and ever rising debt of the country due to the yearly budget deficits. As masters of the ship of state good weather still prevails which was not of their doing.

            The U.S.A. industrialized behind walls of tariffs for almost two centuries and an exclusive national currency system that has become the envy and bane of the planet.

            The South declared a revolution against their States rights. The North supported by their industrialists and led by Lincoln established the United States of America. The role of and administration of modern warfare became a new process for the then new Republic.

            • Joe America says:

              I appreciate the historical treatise. I think both poets and prose writers have a valuable place in deciding whether we commit to something, or don’t. Perhaps President Aquino is a poet, eh? I also think ignorance is a common condition, and we should not be surprised that it exists. Finally, I think what President Aquino brought to the Philippines was stability and a measure of confidence, and that the climb on various global indexes or debt-rating agency charts was not due mainly to Gloria Arroyo. We can natter forever about the details of history and eventually have to come to the question of, what’s the point?

              You have little confidence that the Philippines can find her way out of the woods of self-dealing and believe a French revolution is needed, maybe guillotine and all. I have more confidence that there are new tools of information, new dynamics, new awarenesses brewing, and prefer civil discourse to riots. It’s okay that we disagree. Each is entitled to push his own wagon.

              • R.Hiro says:


                Please note a cultural revolution on a scale as the French revolution.

                Seeing politicians, justices, heads of agencies, from different spectrum’s, taipans all dressed in prison orange in chains would be cathartic enough for this country.

              • Joe America says:

                Well, that gets down to the pragmatics and practicalities of “how to”, from within the system or without. Revolution requires leadership, and a common set of goals and values, the means to execute, and a passion (the poets) that a whole lot of people buy into to push the movement into a force. That’s exactly what President Aquino was and is, it seems to me. Now he is not proceeding as fast as you would like, but again, that bumps into pragmatics, opposing wills, and ways. And the ever-present knowledge that collapse and riots and bloodshed are just a bad decision away.

                Steady as she goes is fine with me. The politicians, some generals, some governors, an agency head or two . . . they are on a slow path to orange . . . if the next President does not pardon them. Justices are currently outside the reach of the people, but the President’s insistence on SALN’s will start the popular inquiry perhaps. I tilt toward confidence, and a certain acceptance that slow is better than abrupt that provokes collapse. You may argue that collapse is necessary to rebuild anew, and I’d argue, it depends on who is leading the rebuilding. Odds are that there area lot more Marcoses in the woodwork than Hancocks or Hamiltons.

                The direction is right. The pace is determined a lot by the culture itself, which resists.

  20. manuel buencamino says:

    After going through six years of hell, I think the President deserves time to enjoy his erections rather than being put through another election. Give the man a break!

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