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Reason and the Heart

Reason and the Heart

Ronald Roy

Smart kid, this grandson of mine. I just found out that Jack, who wants to be a lawyer ala Perry Mason, occasionally browses over my 50-year-old law textbooks with marginal scribbles. He stunned me when he said, “Gramps, I don’t see how the (Gloria) Arroyo people can claim Executive Order No.1 is an act of vindictiveness and discrimination. The President simply wants to know if they committed serious crimes, so what’s so wrong with that?”

Then he dropped a bomb: “Maybe the Supreme Court is the one being vindictive because the President clipped its budget—well, it is not quite like that, Jack—for austerity reasons”. Hmm, a little ahead of his age, this kid, who manages to keep abreast of current news. Well, I’d like to share the following insights drawn from my conversations with Jack regarding the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection clause (EPC).
Shorn of suspected ill motives shrouded in highfalutin legalese and specious reasoning, the EPC is an uncomplicated common-sense principle that nobody should be discriminated against for such reasons as relate to gender (e.g. homosexuals and lesbians being denied employment opportunities), color (e.g. Ilocanos being segregated at a restaurant section away from fair-skinned Visayans), religion (e.g. public transport facilities banning members of a particular non-Christian church), and physical disability or defect (e.g. denial by public amusement places of entrance for the handicapped).

Behind EPC is the ennobling idea that in a democracy one is entitled to fair and equal treatment as everybody else found within the same class. Therefore, EPC does not apply in cases, e.g., where a prisoner is isolated in a maximum security cell because his being an extremely dangerous criminal sets him apart from the other convicts. In fine, he is such a class by himself that he is barred from invoking the blessings of EPC.

With all due respect to the 10 justices who voted to strike down the subject executive order as unconstitutional, their decision erroneously grants officials of the previous administration unmerited refuge in EPC, given the glaringly different class they are seen to have created for themselves, compared to the other previous administrations. The uniqueness of their category is perceived to be theirs, and theirs alone, unparalleled in history in terms of magnitude and scale, wanton greed, depravity, temerity and impunity, and it is this distinctiveness that sets them so apart that they must be denied EPC’s mantle of protection.

Another humungous difference in their case is the unusually gross political quality of felonies ascribed to them. If the search for truth will remain impeded, then democracy’s bell will toll for itself since there will be no stopping future repeats of the emasculation of the electoral will. The cheating machine will have been so perfected as to allow a presidential candidate to steal the vote two times over and govern for ten consecutive years and enjoy opportunities galore for self-enrichment.

Incidentally, EO No.1 need not cover the Marcos regime because the courts and the Presidential Commission on Good Government have already long acquired jurisdiction over its excesses.

Never mind the Impsa deal, otherwise remembered as the so-called Nani Perez caper. Never mind the alleged Pidal accounts, the fertilizer scams, the ZTE-NBN deal, the wanton distribution of stuffed brown paper bags and purloined chunks of pork to lackeys. But woe to our democratic ideals should we choose not to seek the truth behind the Hello Garci scandal, a scandal which if left uninvestigated–my God that’s all we ask–may yet regretfully trigger extra-legal remedies.
The injustice resulting from the executive order’s rejection is too glaring to escape the discerning scrutiny of a second year high school student. Indeed, what else could this mean but a whole country standing on the threshold of a judicial dictatorship? The Supreme Court does not have the final say on legal disputes for nothing.

Jack chuckled at the lateral issue of the Chief Justice’s possible impeachment being proposed by some quarters. He remarked, “But haven’t they learned they should not single him out? But then again, if they impeach all ten Justices who rejected EO No.1, they’ll be creating a much larger mess, don’t you think so, Gramps?” No, I don’t think so Jack, because replacements can always be made if they’re found guilty by the impeachment trial court, the Senate.

Impeachment would be the correct exercise of the sovereign state’s right to defend itself against a palpable form of judicial authoritarianism. Definitely it would be a peaceful and constitutional recourse by the people.

Significantly, the 10-5 split vote suggests the Palace does not deserve the disparaging comment it is bereft of top-notch constitutionalists. In fact, it suggests such a lack of clarity in EPC’s applicability to the disputed EO, that all ten justices should yield to what is an obvious sovereign clamor for the truth. Are they not being arrogant by allowing legal obscurities to defeat the dictates of reason and the heart, the heart that beats with love of country?

(Email: arnydolor@yahoo.com, cell # 09186449517)

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