Let me start this article with something light. The Supreme Court yesterday rejected President Noynoy Aquino’s first Executive Order (the formation of the “Truth Commission”). I wasn’t that surprised at all of the decision.
On a level playing field, the formation of the “Truth Commission” was flawed from the very start. It was a big blunder amongst the growing list of blunders by the Noynoy administration. So when the news broke out about the SC decision, I imagined that Noynoy must have been singing to the tune of Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” hit song for his blunder.
[Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah]
I think I did it again…I made you believe
We’re more than just brats.
It might seem like I’m good,
But it doesn’t mean…That I’m really smart.
‘Cause to lose common senses…
That is just so typically me.
Oh, baby; baby.
Oops!… I did it again.
I screwed up big time.
Got lost in the game.
Oh, baby; baby.
Oops!… You think I’m so good.
That I’m sent from above…
I’m not that competent.
(Words in bold and italics changed to make it apropos for Noynoy)
Now that I got that tune running in your head for the rest of the day, I would like to give my two cents on why I think Noynoy’s Truth Commission was doomed from the start.
Noynoy started off his campaign for the Presidency using pretty much the exact playbook his mother, former President Cory Aquino, used. It was the good versus evil line and in fact, one of his first interviews after officially announcing his intent to run for the Presidency revealed that amongst his plans should he win the Presidency was to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos.1 Either Noynoy’s deep-seated vindictive nature betrayed him in that revelation or he was just too stupid to substitute Marcos’ name with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s name in the script to make the statement more relevant at the time.
Nevertheless, his statement, together with the style of getting more than a million signatures3 to prod him to run and his consultation with Catholic nuns before he came up with his decision4 gave a clear indication of the copycat nature of his campaign. But that was okay, I suppose his mother didn’t mind the “plagiarism” from beyond the grave. The playbook worked for Noynoy and winning the Presidency was all that mattered.
However, when Noynoy assumed the Presidency he did not develop his own vision and direction for the country. He decided to again use the playbook of his mom’s Presidency! It is one thing to re-use a successful candidacy playbook and another thing to re-use a Presidential blueprint. His mother’s decrees may have validity during her time but in Noynoy’s time, the conditions are different and this requires a different approach!
You may recall that right after Cory Aquino assumed the Presidency in 1986, she came up with an Executive Order to form the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) which was mandated to go after Ferdinand Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.
That Executive Order was sustained by the Supreme Court because it was perfectly valid under the prevailing condition at the time. Cory’s Executive Order was given the thumbs up because Cory’s government was a Revolutionary government. As Senator Joker Arroyo correctly pointed out, Cory had the power to enact laws because “she was the legislature at that time!” 5
Under Noynoy’s time, he is bound by the dictates of the 1987 Constitution. Under the Constitution, only Congress can create new offices and commissions. In addition, Noynoy’s Truth Commission merely duplicates the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman and the statutory jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.6 These are points to consider for the assessment of the unconstitutionality of Noynoy’s Truth Commission.
The next objection raised against Noynoy’s Executive Order is its biased mandate on investigating specifically the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). Whether we like GMA or not or whether we believe GMA was indeed corrupt who needs to be put to justice, the Constitution ensures equal protection of the laws. The fact that Noynoy’s Truth Commission, as Representative Lagman pointed out, is an “enterprise in partisan hostility” for being selective and discriminatory against GMA’s administration, this makes Noynoy’s Truth Commission a violation of the Constitution.7
Let me be clear lest I be accused of being a GMA sympathizer. I do not like GMA as I believe that GMA’s administration is the worst administration in the history of the country as far as corruption and injustice goes. I am one with many people who agree that GMA’s abuses must be brought to justice. However, as much as I detest GMA and her administration, whatever my sentiments may be, these do not matter as what matters is only what can be proven in a court of law or in an investigating body that is lawfully sanctioned by the Constitution.
The problem with Noynoy’s Truth Commission is that it claims to promote justice yet it is built on the injustice of discrimination! This falls within the same vein as Noynoy’s attempt to reduce the Maguindanao massacre trial into a trial by publicity.8 Come to think of it… this is precisely what the Truth Commission is all about! An attempt at inciting inflamed publicity to further put the accused on a bad light and to put pressure on the judicial body should the product of this Truth Commission come up with damaging findings and recommendations against the GMA administration.
What is the purpose of Noynoy’s Truth Commission if not for publicity? Senator Joker Arroyo is correct in pointing out that:
“It seems that the government is bent on putting every problem, every irregularity, everything, on the truth commission. There’s nothing wrong with that,… But anything that the President does via an executive order does not have the force of law,… With this one, I don’t think Davide will get anywhere… The success or failure of the truth commission will not depend upon who the chairman is. It will depend upon the powers that it has. If it has no powers, you can put the smartest lawyers [in it, but] it will not succeed…. In other words, it cannot compel attendance, it cannot compel anything, it can only invite. It will have no subpoena powers… That will be a toothless commission. It would suffer from a very legal flaw.”5
Coming up with this Truth Commission was as poorly done as that recent tourism slogan and logo flop9 by the Noynoy government. It seems that incompetence is written all over it just as the case for the growing list of Noynoy’s blunders!10
Kilusang Mayo Uno president Efren Labog suspects that Noynoy may not be serious in going after GMA for crimes committed against the Filipino people.11 He surmises:
“…the fact that this EO, which the regime describes as very important in its statements to the media, is now being junked by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional and prods us to ask: Was it fault by design and was programmed to fail? … We cannot help but think that the Aquino regime is sabotaging efforts to attain truth, accountability and justice over Arroyo’s numerous grave crimes against the people… The decision of the SC puts an exclamation point to our numerous reservations towards the Truth Commission. Its appointed head, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. is a loyal stooge of former President Arroyo. It confines itself to investigating major accusations of graft and corruption, excluding Arroyo’s other serious crimes against the Filipino people such as human rights violations. It faces serious legal obstacles in summoning witnesses and obtaining crucial evidence.”11
Fault by design? Well, I think Mr. Labog is being very kind to Noynoy for giving that benefit of the doubt. If it was fault by design, it certainly would give credit to Noynoy for being a smart and cunning politician for purposely throwing a curve ball at the people. However, Noynoy’s record seems to be pointing towards a different direction. This is not “fault by design”, Mr. Labog. This is merely incompetence which seems to be the trademark of the Noynoy Aquino administration.
Ooops, he did it again!
* * * * *