Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Their Queen and Ours and the Constitution

The Constitution is the Sovereign in a republic. While the people as a whole is where sovereignty resides, the constitution is where it is enshrined.

In a Monarchy, all power resides in the King or Queen. In Great Britain, Elizabeth II is sovereign. Whatever Tony Blair does as Prime Minister, he is actually exercising the prerogative of the Queen. Britain does have a constitution, although it is not in one document. The Queen represents the reality of this constitution. Parliament with the Queen may be a dictator but convention prevents it from doing so. The Queen does not have much political power but she embodies unity by being above partisan interests. So the British do have liberty, even if at times they have less democracy than that of the Americans who may have much democracy, but less liberty.

In the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not sovereign even though as President she may possess much more power than Elizabeth II does. In our republic, the Constitution is sovereign since the people are sovereign. So it is great news to learn that the Supreme Court of the Philippines threw out as unconstitutional the petition to declare the people's initiative to amend the constitution. Proponents of constitutional change want to change the system of government from a Presidential democracy to a Parliamentary democracy with the Cabinet as executive.

The Court has this to say

"This Court cannot betray its primordial duty to defend and protect the Constitution. The Constitution, which embodies the people’s sovereign will, is the bible of this Court. This Court exists to defend and protect the Constitution. To allow this constitutionally infirm initiative, propelled by deceptively gathered signatures, to alter basic principles in the Constitution is to allow a desecration of the Constitution. To allow such alteration and desecration is to lose this Court’s raison d’etre,”

“The Lambino Group’s initiative is void and unconstitutional because it dismally fails to comply with the requirement of Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution that the initiative must be ‘directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition,’

The Court also noted the lack of an enabling law to allow for people's initiative to amend the constitution. More significantly the court recognised the "deception" in getting the signatures for the initiative and that the whole idea was partisan since it was hatched by the Arroyo administration. This would lead to future administrations amending the charter to suit their political agenda.

In England, Her Majesty the Queen represents the bedrock of the nation. In our Republic it is the Constitution (Not Gloria mind you! Despite what her spin doctors say). We cannot just trample on sovereignty. The Queen can act only within the bounds of England's constitution, And she has done so admirably for more than 50 years, hence she is above reproach. Gloria seems to want to be Queen. We have to advise her to act within our Written 1987 Constitition. It is for her own good.

And thanks to the Supreme Court, the last bastion of the Rule of Law.

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