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Monday, December 5, 2011

Political Persecution or Pre-emptive Strike?

The on-going debacle on the stoppage of the supposed exodus of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to seek medical treatment and the rather exciting yet on-a-thin-ice bickering between the Executive and the Judiciary branches of government are but auspicious moments for me as a law student, but also for the most of us who experience goose-bumps or unwavering fear when we hear the words “constitutional crisis”. But I would like to look at these issues holistically (not myopically), especially on the unnecessary and rather substantial questions and contentions brought before the Supreme Court. The immediate reaction to the messy and ruthless treatment towards the former president in the NAIA airport involved constitutional issues that are reminiscent of many political figures who experienced the same not only in our country, but also in most democracies or non-democracies in the world: the right to travel. The Arroyo camp, represented by Atty. Anacleto Diaz, was clear in its stand: Arroyo’s right to travel is absolute and could not be hampered by a mere administrative memorandum but only by law. This issue has been the subject of the landmark case of Marcos vs. Manglapus: whether or not the President can refuse Ferdinand Marcos and his family’s right to travel back to the Philippines. There are two immediate similarities in these case. First, the person involved is facing so much public abhorence and hate that they become their own country’s persona non grata - they are considered awfully terrible dictators of their time. For Marcos, the Martial Law speaks of itself. For Arroyo, the mounting allegations and cases contending her draconian rule during her presidency, i.e. human rights violations, electoral sabotage, extra-judicial killings - you name it. Second, they have fallen to their knees and are under the mercy of their successors who affirmed how tyrannical they are. Against Marcos, we have Cory who championed democracy and challenged the distorted resolve and brutal rule of the once brilliant man. Against Arroyo, we have Noynoy Aquino, the people’s champion mirroring the mandate and dreams of his parents and who promised to do better than his predecessor. It’s like being Caligula or Caesar who, in their early rule, have been loved up to the moment they were hated and killed by their own treachery against their countrymen. And here’s the catch - in the times of their frailties, their successors begin to take revenge. Cory, exercising her residual powers for the first time in the nation’s history, won favor in the Supreme Court and was able to disinherit Marcos from the land he once ruled. And now, Noynoy, exercising through his uncanny alter ego in the DOJ, Secretary Leila De Lima, was able to rebel against the Supreme Court’s order allowing Arroyo to leave. And now, here’s the question, is this a form of political persecution in the most subtle way? Is this a pre-emptive strike against the horrors and the risks of allowing an alleged criminal leave the country and escape trial? There are differing opinions, harsh and gentle reactions. What about the Supreme Court? In the en banc session, the Justices seemed to be unpredictable, as if they are immune from mind-read. The Arroyo camp raised the issue of the non-publication of the infamous DOJ Circular No. 41 which empowered De Lima to issue an HLO against Arroyo, citing the case of Tanada vs. Tuvera. Another issue was raised regarding the existence of a law (Republic Act No. 10071, “Prosecution Service Act”) which empowers the DOJ Secretary to promulgate ordinances against probable miscarriage of justice. And of course, the controversial issue raised by the brilliant Lady Justice Sereno with regards to the issuance of 500 or more HLOs during Arroyo’s administration using DOJ Circular No. 41, the same circular that stopped her from boarding a flight last Nov. 18, which could be constitutive of estoppel. And of course, the most important phrases in Section 6, Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution - “national security, public safety, or public health” and “as may be provided by law” - are perhaps the substantial issues in the en banc session. I think, procedural matter aside, that these questions test the qualification of the right vested in the said section. Is right to travel absolute unless the law says it is not? Lady Justice Sereno raises the issue whether or not right to travel is a non-derogable right under the eyes of international law? She says, it is derogable. Constitutional Commissioner Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J. argued that the right to travel may only be limited through an act of Congress, ergo, only by law, and by court order. In this case, neither has been at issue until the Prosecution Service Act was cited by Mr. Justice Reyes. Atty. Diaz contended rather fairly that the law was not invoked in the WLO nor in the HLO. These are very important questions of law. It is up to the highest court of the land to decide. But what do all these auspicious moments tell us? I think that these legal questions precipitate to more holistic issues that we should be more weary about. How long will the clash between the Executive and the Judiciary last? What will be its ramifications? What does it say about our government and the principle of democracy it should espouse? What happens when a constitutional crisis becomes unresolved? I can fight off the feeling of empathy towards Arroyo, but much of the nation’s resolve tend to affirm her guilt in all these. See related entry at:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sidelining Bush’s efforts – Why Washington should credit the previous administration

The Congressional authorization granted to Pres. George. W. Bush during the infamous War on Terror waged against Al-Qaeda, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks under its leader Osama bin Laden, has resulted to serious human rights and legal issues that attacked and tarnished Bush’s foreign policy efforts. The mistake of Iraq war as most would claim put Bush in extreme criticism over his competence the over-all legitimacy of the war on terror. Right after 9/11, Bush has focused most of its military attention to terrorist-ridden countries, as paranoia and the still lingering raw hatred against 9/11 attackers overwhelmed most of the public’s views. The Authorization of the Use of Military Force or AUMF may still be as controversial as torture issues that contributed to several war crime accusations against Bush and his henchmen, among them the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. This presidential power has brought down both innocent and guilty individuals. Among the infamous court cases, Hamdi vs Rumsfeld and Hamdan vs Rumsfeld and Boumediene vs Bush, questioned....(Read more)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Donald Trump needs to shut up!

Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker) wonderfully puts how the birther issue involving US President Barack Obama that has been around in the airwaves is simply an idiotic hokum of the man who made it an unnecessary thing for the media to prey on: Donald Trump. Well, Hertzberg really didn’t, but it would have been a better idea to do so. So, let me do the job.
This guy is indeed a wicked piece of work. Well, putting it that way, it seems that Trump himself is a force to be reckoned with. Well, he isn’t. Putting my personal polemics about him, I say I’m not a fan of him, not in a thousand years. And seriously, even his show (The Apprentice) simply serves his megalomaniac constitution as a man bereft with sense and reason, but who is bulbous of histrionic tendencies and stupid theatrics. He’s also a narcissistic war-freak who loves to fight with celebrities, which only shows his need for spotlight. Well, hear this Donald, you’re a cheap trick after all! But I digress. Trump’s recent bold announcement of planning to run for president in 2012 makes me laugh it off and say, “Is he actually serious?” Well, Hertzberg says so. And for me, it’s damningly ridiculous. And besides, being bold is the only thing he’s good at. After his announcement, he’s been in almost every news, interviewed by curious yet judgmental men and women who happen to be only restrained (from giggling) by professionalism but who I think shouldn’t be if the man they’re talking to is the dumb old Trump. Thank goodness Letterman, O'Brien and Leno are there to bash Trump's craziness. But here’s the thing, his jibber-jabber about running for president is preposterous, nay, oafish in many ways. His interviews show that he doesn’t even have something to offer. His platforms are no different from the Republican blabbermouths in Congress. What’s worse, he keeps on bragging about how he would make a good president. A reasonable voter would think that he needs to prove it. But what he does is simply stating that he would – again – his empty words and annoying narcissistic rants are making him a laughingstock!
Hertzberg is right, by writing that the world is laughing at the United States right now, contrary to what Trump wants to do. Simply put, he shames the American people. For me, he shames humanity. And here’s another Trump-esque theatrics that only shows how clearly incompetent he is at the end of the day – the birther issue. Trump incessantly questions Pres. Obama’s birth, trying to rid of the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency. I would say, Trump is no different from those who previously accused the President with the same issue. Well, actually he’s different. He makes it official that some people like just can’t understand simple stuff. And it makes him shallow a Presidential-aspirant. It only shows that Trump cannot engage the president in hardcore and high-brow issues, that’s why he settles on trivial and unnecessary ones. Now who would like a politician who acts and thinks worse than a 5-year old? No one, of course! His amoebic thinking is nauseating, simply put. And Trump’s idiocy is made official by the President himself. Obama is right to point out that such issue is gearing away the attention of the country in tackling issues with great importance. And the president sufficed as much as 50% of Americans, a third of Republicans and pretty much the entire world evidences that suggest that Trump is simply going nuts! But what Trump has been doing? Announcing how proud he is that Obama had finally released his birth certificate? I don’t know in what Universe what Trump is bragging about is an accomplishment or something to be proud of. Simply put, Trump shouldn’t be taken seriously about his Presidential delusions. And he needs to shut up and walk away from any political aspirations of his. Not only he’s hurting GOP, and trying to overshadow the competent Republican stock (as affirmed by polls, which is again a ridiculous manifestation of Trump’s growing idiocratic propaganda), he’s making the whole Presidential campaign a bogus one. Someone has to shove a dirty sock in his throat to cease him shaming humanity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

TALKING POINTS BARNACLE: HAPPENINGS THAT MAKE TV SO SPECIAL

The Midterm Elections

Tacky - is what I would comment on the course of the midterm elections in the so called Land of Opportunity. Not per se though, since this is the most expensive campaign trail for a midterm election in the US history, but indiscriminately gauche when you think about or boil down what you think about the way the candidates engaged one another this time. It makes me smile especially when the press and overindulging media keeps on making fun of O’Donell being a witch (which she helplessly tried to defend she isn’t), but her past revealing some of witchy element was a total kill shot. Hold on, ladies and gentlemen, this woman abhors masturbation. Yes, would you believe that? Wrong move, Christine. Absolutely unnecessary. Whatever ethical contentions, or even worse, reformations you have, sure do that the men of talk shows would totally dig on that. Leno did a pretty good job mocking our dear Christine (in several instances maybe) in the Tonight Show. Leno asks, “So, she never had masturbation”. I’ll stop here. Let your imagination and creativity work itself up.
Witchy-ness and anti-boohoo aside, O’Donell was a total screw up because she appeared to be so like the politically disgusting hominid Sarah Palin. Yes, the reason among others why John McCain might have potentially got screwed on his way to the White House. Why her? I’m no anti-GOP or anti-Conservatism (maybe in some way), but to be honest, the GOP interests me more than the Democrats do. But later on the Democrats. Anyway, the “pivotal” event in this year’s midterm elections is the influence and role of the not-so-stupidly-named Tea Party Movement. Who are these people? Put it this way, they are simply the best of the Conservative/Republican breed that feel that their comrades in government is losing ground for power, and so they suited up as the saviours of the party who embody the same ideals as theirs. More importantly they think the US Constitution is under attack. What makes it pivotal? The fact (maybe in some extent, as I opine here): Rush Limbaugh isn’t really behind this so-called movement. Who is? Common people who air their voice to mold a collective power in saving the dying Republicanism. Sounds too dramatic? Sounds familiar when you talk about the ever formidable Glenn Beck imitating Dr. King or Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert trying to do the same (the big difference is, Stewart and Colbert gathered more audience than Beck – but on this note, both seemed invoking less originality but the message is entirely different and ‘liberal’...more on this later).
However, what disturbs me is why Palin considered the face of the Tea Party? Isn’t it that she’s one of the reasons why this grassroots movement is there in the first place? To stress unceasingly that the Republican mojo is losing? And the likes of Palin are a mistake in very first place? Anyway, enough of the politicking, let’s move on to what I’m trying to explore here. It’s simple. The midterm election is no better than the usual cutthroat brand of modern American politics. It got worse ever since. It’s inevitable. Even the presidential race two years ago went on the same road, as many would expect that the articulate Obama wouldn’t embrace this kind of political strategy, yet he got some along the way. But this time, it’s funnier. It unravels more about who run, suited to run and unworthy to run the Americans’ Congress. We cited O’Donell of Delware, who lost maybe because of the gaffe, worsened by media flare and talk show mockeries. McCain’s daughter even called her a ‘nutjob’. We also looked at the overratedness of Palin under the Tea Party. Don’t the people behind this deserve more the credit than this woman does? She’s just a piece of frustrated politico who likes to prove herself she is capable of running the White House in the future! Do you know who’s more likely to win than her? My neighbour’s dog! But you get the point. Palin is not the epitome of the Tea Party. What did she do significantly in the first place? Endorse candidates. Yeah, I get that, maybe the same as Manny Pacquiao endorsing Harry Reid, like he knows who this guy is. (I have a theory, if Reid wins, Manny will be too welcome to visit Las Vegas anytime he wants, free of charge – the magic of perks and privileges. How great is that?).



It’s tacky.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brown resigns, Cameron is new Prime Minister

Gordon Brown’s resignation as Labour Party leader on Tuesday headlined a victory for the Tories. Following the May 9 election results where the Conservatives won the most (but the majority) seats with the Labour slipping down to a loss of more than ninety seats, ultimately resulting to Britain’s first hung parliament for the past 36 years, tensions have been significant as much as it has been fruitful.
With the Liberal Democrats sealing the deal with the Conservatives (and not with the Labour), a coalition government was formed and the Queen invited David Cameron to form a new government. This was almost predictable. Even prior to the negotiations between the three major parties, Nick Clegg in his speech expressed that the Conservatives has the ‘right’ to govern this time. But all this has to do with Clegg himself, and part of the credit belongs to him. Cameron’s march towards 10th Downing Street could not have been possible without the kingmaker. And he himself as the Deputy Prime Minister, the new government with Cameron will certainly make a brand new political atmosphere in the Parliament and the system as a whole.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Looking at the British Elections: What it says about their brand of politics

It may not be quite a surprise in general that the three parties competing for a hold of power by securing as much as possible majority seats in the British Parliament are almost at par in terms of their policies and promises for the future UK. Recent happenings involving the country’s biggest parties, the Labour Party led by the economic-crisis saviour Gordon Brown and the Conservative and Unionist Party led by the ever-ardent oppositor of the majority government David Cameron, have created both advantages (to boost the Party’s popular support at the expense of the other’s downfall) and disadvantages (which impaired them in some way) both to the image of the party leader and the credibility of the Party as a whole.
And on May 6th, the standards the parties set for themselves to portray a “who’s the better party towards a better UK” semblance will speak for themselves. But what really is new in this election? Will the candidates make a game-changer?
Contrary to what Simon Schama said, a notable professor from Columbia University, in an interview in a CNN program Amanpour., this years election and the end result will be a different direction at the very least and the campaign trail itself is one of a kind. But to give credit to what Schama contends, British politics may be indeed all as it may have been, if one could talk about how Labour and Conservative always beat each other (sometimes with utmost lack of decency and civility), trying to tone down, nay, cause the fall of the other entirely. Well, as a matter of how I see it, this makes British politics strong and governance a clear competition with clear check and balance. A party’s intense political will to, atop its priorities, gain majority rule by criticizing the other ruthlessly amongst its tools has begun to permeate almost everything a Party may or may not have any business about. This means that as long as party competition is a serious business; expect that both sides of the Parliament will better the nation as a whole, or not at all.
This is not basically new in British politics. Despite Labour’s young origins contrary to the Tories’ centuries-old presence, power-play has been tough. Now this makes a clear ground for real competition in British elections. But what becomes of the present situation compared to the past British governments is that the element of surprise has been deadlier and more cunning for the Parties themselves. For example, if you talk about the Labour-Conservative relationship, despite their most recent bashings, bickering and face-slaps, there is no clear cause to believe that one is inevitably winning. Former British Ambassador to the United States Sir Christopher Meyer on Amanpour. said that this has always been the case. How I see it is that the unpredictability comes before and after. I would say that nobody knows who will win and nobody knows what will happen after a party wins. By going back a little, this trend of unpredictability has haunted British politics for a long time. Churchill’s Conservative leadership brought a major lead and support for the party. The Conservative’s unprecedented political success was amplified by Churchill’s victory during the Second World War (a boost for morale) together with the Allied Forces, seemingly making Churchill the Conservative’s most influential leader and UK’s prime minister with boundless popularity, both local and overseas. In spite of the Conservative win during this time, the parties hold on power and the British’s support waned down in just a matter of few years. Labour and other parties broke the British power dominance of the Conservative. This short-live rule of a party or it’s popularity begotten by its successful marches to make the public believe that what they do is for the nation’s welfare may even presently be there. This is true as I see it in the case of the Labour.
Thatcher’s rule also led a Conservative swipe in the British politics, almost the same as Churchill’s. But the Iron Lady’s role in keeping in competition with Labour and contributing to the empowerment of her party led to some unexpected downturn. Her resignation as Prime Minister reflected a loophole in party discipline. It seemed that the Conservatives have been turning against each other, making a shaky party less competitive against the Labour. With this, Labour took advantage (which is the trend in the present British election). Tony Blair’s New Labour Party was a game-changer in the political battle mainly fought by the two. Blair’s New Labour created a new standard for the old Labour, signalling a political change and ideology for the Labour Party founded in the 1900s, only that this reinvention of the party strengthened a new politics that the people wants at the very demise of the Conservatives.
The element of change (due to discontent of the previous governments) has always been a fact of politics, nay, a political leverage at that. Why a leverage? Talk about 21st century and everybody will talk about political shift. This has been the very trend of politics across countries. In the US, the Democrats showed that a Republican government has been a failure – this took an extreme advantage for Obama to win, exploiting the weakness showed by Bush and the unpopular support to the Iraq War and the other in Afghanistan which the Republicans strongly fought for. Across Europe, the rise of countless parties never heard of before calls for social and political change, challenging the age-old parties that have been failing. Reformist and moderate parties are gaining support and power as opposition against fundamentalist governments across Asia. Even US’s Tea Party Movement calls for it. And this demand is CHANGE. Change breeds tough opposition. Like what the Tories experienced during years after Churchill and during Thatcher, Labour spells the same fate. The advent of Blair’s government as a particular case was as I’ve said a major change in British politics. But one mistake said it all. Like the intense outcry against the war in Iraq, Blair’s support for the war damaged the party, so as the interest of the British people, leaving a chance for the Conservatives (Tories) to exploit it. This is however was not done so to their advantage. It may have been that either or both Tony Blair and the Labour as a whole was damaged by their stand on the war, the party’s win ‘again’ under a new government led by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer during Blair, was an unprecedented turn of events. Did the Conservatives fail to do about the Labour’s disastrous decisions? Did the Conservative fail to exploit the mounting unpopular support for Blair’s New Labour? This happening is indeed a history maker if ever things have gone differently, and this deserves some attention.
You see, the reinvention of the Labour Party turning into the New Labour supposedly spelled a much better party to compete against the Tory. The mere changing of the party itself posed one thing and one thing only: that the British people had enough already of the countless mistakes of the previous governments including the Tory for a certain amount of time, thus, a new party innovation will change the British politics to its core as what people so desperately demands now and urgent. I might say that this was indeed a very powerful strategy for the Labour to do. If Labour did not make a new game plan, would the Conservatives have done it? I couldn’t say for certain what could have happened but the interesting issues could have been different if the New Labour was short lived. But Brown’s majority government proved a much tougher enemy for the Conservatives to deal with. Their failure to exploit Blair’s mistake led to the Labour’s persistence. Also, this I think had a blow against the Tories themselves. By not finishing off a dying enemy, it will certainly create a backlash whether a party is strong to take over. And the Labour’s role in the recent economic crisis under their man himself Gordon Brown showed a party in momentum for winning another election. But then again, the Opposition has been also strong and has been tougher (but not enough yet) under Cameron’s leadership, balancing the power-politics presently ruled by Brown.
Now this I say levelled a fair and square competition between the two major parties. What is interesting again is that the unexpected appearance of the Liberal Democrat Party may hold a twist in the political arena. At this point perhaps one could contend and concede that the Tory and the Labour would be competing primarily against each other. However, the game-changer may be the ‘other’ party. Polls show that despite Cameron’s party’s lead, seconded (surprisingly) by the Liberal Democrats’ candidate Nick Clegg and Brown being the third, the Conservatives may not secure a majority win. If neither the Conservative nor the Labour wins a majority with the LD’s breaking role, this could lead to a hung parliament. Brown for one sees (in the final prime ministerial debate) that the LD and the Conservative will make a coalition. But will Clegg or Cameron be unto this? I doubt that Cameron will agree on a power-sharing deal with the LD. But acting out of desperation to once again hold the government, possibility may be spelled out. But still we can doubt whether LD or Nick Clegg will agree. Certainly these parties do not agree on issues at hand, but looking at the debates, the three candidate’s policies are neither different nor the same. Now, if Clegg becomes the majority breaker, he could assume to take a coalition with the party his policies are closest to. However, the LD may even have the chance to win the elections, which is a serious problem for the Conservative who fought long hard to gain the support, but less for the Labour. It will surely be a slap on the face to Cameron if they lose. But who knows? The complexity of the political situation now is different and a case to with most surprises. Think of it, Labour had been popular for quite sometime, but the Conservatives hadn’t waged war enough with them, only at the floors of the Parliament most of the time (didn’t exploit intensively the Iraq war, the misconduct of some Labour government officials, Gordon’s gaffe, Clegg’s experience). Cameron’s leadership is not enough to counter the Labour, even the newbie Clegg who seems to be a rising star, bur Brown is still not out of the picture. Indeed, the 6th of May could be a rethinking of how the British politics plays.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brief Conversations at the Town Hall Party in a Thunderstorm

Click here to download "Brief Conversations at the Town Hall Party in a Thunderstorm" by C.L. Sinclair (PDF).