A Judge friend of mine texted me the PDI’s Randy David’s column: The Supreme Court’s crucial role, on which he put a caption “All about the doctrines of separation of powers and political questions.” I’d already read David’s column even before my Judge friend texted it. I thought, he, being a Judge could give me an insight on the much awaited decision of the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the 2013 General Appropriation Act (GAA) triggered by the PDAF scams. “So, how do you think the Supreme Court will respond?” I texted back in my anxiousness to seek out his opinion as it might be a good material for the piece I wanted to write. But it slipped out of my mind that this friend of mine is stingy giving out opinions – a habit of his I discovered 28 years ago when we worked together in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps, out of courtesy, he texted me back. He says, “It (the Supreme Court) may declare PDAF as unconstitutional or avoid the issue of being a political rather than justiciable question”. I felt wanting. My Justice friend just rephrased his caption, albeit it has gone down to the particular, rather than general. I texted him back. “To which side the Supreme Court will go, do you think?”
He didn’t reply. He could be annoyed of my aggressiveness. I blamed myself for not remembering how reticent he is with his opinion. He just couldn’t give it to anyone, except perhaps in the court when he is delivering his judgement. After two days, he texted me back, saying, “Sorry, can’t read their minds. It should be either of the two.”
But why pursuing my Justice friend’s opinion when his precept alone is more than enough topic to chew on. That’s right!
When Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio declared during the first oral argument that the 2013 General Appropriation Act (GAA) is “riddled with unconstitutionalities,” it reminded me of the politician’s creed “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. The legislator in the Lower House in cahoots with the Cabinet Secretaries of the Executive Branch help each other realigning the lump sum funds of the GAA. These partnerships provide a venue for the pillaging of the people’s coffer. This violates the intention of the separation of the powers of the Legislative and Executive Branch of the Government. To strengthen the future enactment of the GAA, I think, the people would be better off, if the Supreme Court decides on the unconsititutionalities of the PDAF. This way, no more “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” deals. The Legislative, will just concentrate making the laws while the Executive, execute the law. The drawback of this is the possibility of gridlock between the two Branches. Again, people, as always, are on the losing end.
As what my Justice friend says, the Supreme Court could decide also that PDAF is a political question. They could say it is not within their purview to meddle with the political affairs of the State. If this would be the Supreme Court’s verdict, then Happy Days are here again for the politicians. Maybe they would say; okay let’s scrap for now the PDAF as people are still mad. Let’s just resurrect it when the issues died down.
This is my layman’s opinion on the matter. Of course it would be more enlightening and authoritative if it would come from my Justice friend’s insights.