Saturday, June 27, 2009


Here are some of my views concerning our 1987 Constitution. Now, let me be clear though - I am totally against amending our charter, and most especially if it is done with very suspicious timing. Before pro Con-Ass rah-rah boys misinterpret me as jumping to their side of the fence, perhaps when hell freezes over!

- The 1987 Constitution is an amorphous document of dubious origin.

- A constitution is the embodiment of expression of the will of the people through its elected delegates to a constitutional convention. The people's participation is a conditio sine qua non to the legitimacy of a constitution.

- The dramatis personae who shaped the 1987 Constitution were handpicked by only one person whose legitimacy and authority is a classic case in constitutional law. They only reflect the wishes of their principal since they were not elected by the people.

- The 1987 Constitution is the reflex action against the excesses of President Marcos. The persons who drafted the 1987 Constitution were too involved in the events of the time to be free from bias and prejudice.

- The 1987 Constitution is best described as "circumlocutory" and "pleaonastic" in the sense that it uses a lot of words that are multi-dimensional in meaning and have almost no legal connotations.

It is possible to have the legislature constitute itself into an assembly to amend the Constitution. But the timing is way off mark and maliciously suspect. Also, the legislators must disqualify themselves from running for any post in the elections immediately after the amendments are approved. This proviso is duly supported in many legal circles on the theory that it provides a safeguard against any self-serving act or acts by members of the legislature.

After all that's said, it is my firm belief that if and when such amendments should take place, it must be done long after President Arroyo is no longer in absolute power.

NO to Con-Ass.

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One of the most voracious readers among the nation's leaders is the late great Blas Ople whose passion for books is matched only by his passion for writing. The remarkable thing about him is that he did not reach college and his erudition came mostly from reading and spending most of his money on books.

As a member of the Marcos cabinet, he was considered an outstanding secretary with a brilliant mind that even President Marcos, one of the most intelligent leaders of this country, had to ask him to tone down on his scholarly themes so the other cabinet members could understand him. His legendary passion for books reminds me of one French author, Michel de Montaigne, also the mayor of Bordeaux, who was once asked if he were to choose which he would burn first, his books or his children, and without batting an eyelash, answered his children. But of course, that's one decision I totally do not agree with.

Not all Filipino children can be as gifted as Ople because of his love for books. This is more so because our poor children have no ready access to books and other reading materials. Sad to say, the construction of public libraries occupy the lowest priority among our government officials, majority of whom do not realize the value of books. Librarians are among the poorest professionals due to lack of job opportunities. Senators and congressmen should set aside funds from their multi-million pork barrels for the construction of public libraries. Tell me, do you have one in your neighborhood? I thought so.

On that note, what ever happened to Republic Act 7743 signed by former President Fidel Ramos in 1994, providing for the establishment of congressional, city and municipal libraries and barangay reading centers throughout the Philippines? I had earlier called for the establishment of rural libraries to promote the development of intellectual facilities of the people since we had noted the utter lack of such libraries not only in the urban but also in the rural areas.

The little-heard of and apparently unimplemented law mandates that the National Library, in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government shall undertake the establishment of public libraries to serve all congressional districts, cities and municipalities and reading centers in all barangay units. The National Library shall also coordinate and organize seminars, workshops and other trainings for the professional advancement of librarians. It provides for appropriations from both the national and local government units to fund such public libraries and reading centers. Sad to say, a visit to most rural areas would reveal that public libraries and reading centers are non-existent.

Some officials are clearly sleeping on the job or simply cannot put it in their thick skulls that such libraries are vital to the moral and intellectual development of a nation. It's a pity that R.A. 7743 I believe has not been implemented. I was particularly impressed with the provisions on the functions of the libraries as:

- To make available to members of the community a wide array of reading materials including those prescribed by the Department of Education, and national newspapers of general circulation.
- To be used as venue for audio-visual presentations in the community and other kinds of exhibitions and activities, aimed at increasing the literacy rate, by government agencies, NGOs or private entities in the dissemination of information of general interest.

Remember, a well-read and a well-informed citizenry make for a strong and progressive nation.

But then again, can you blame a top spouse if his idea of a library is a collection of coloring books? I thought so too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Remember how President Arroyo and her cohorts believe that she was divinely installed to be our leader? And on occasion, claims to "have conversations" with God - while facing a mirror? Well, whenever the nation or herself are faced with a serious problem or a shameless scandal, she is seen in churches praying in public, for all to see what a religious woman she is. Because of her over-religiosity, she has become contemptuous of those who oppose her decisions. But believing that she has a direct mandate from God, the President appears convinced that her every decision is guided from above and that therefore, she need not be shackled by earthly legal and constitutional restraints. These are the blinkers that have blinded her to the fact that while good governance has a theological dimension, it is primarily mundane, entailing hard work in the here and now. After all, many believe that God helps those who help themselves. But, God too helps the helpless.

President Arroyo seems convinced that the divine right of kings, which monarchy claimed in 17th-century Europe, has been bestowed upon her. Hence, the malicious lust for a term extension as Prime Minister. Under this doctrine, monarchs enjoyed a certain mandate from God, who had made them His legates on Earth, and as such, could do no wrong and their will had the same force as God's Word.

In 18th-century France, Louis XIV cried out "L'etat, c'est moi!" (I am the state!) to drown out his opponents. And in Spain, during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, there was a popular expression approving any person's acts as "tan recto como reina" (as correct as the queen).

The principal French theorist of the time, Bishop Jacques Benigne Bossuet, declared that the monarch's person and authority are sacred and derived from God and therefore, the monarch reigns with reason. Really now. And so, perhaps with the Con-ass now at hand, there could arise some advocacies to invest President Arroyo with monarchial qualities and crown her as Queen Gloria I. By that, the country's overpopulation problem shall have been instantly solved, for many will surely be leaving the country for saner pastures.
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