This, I submit, is the true solution to the moral dilemma we are facing in Grace Poe’s case: of excluding Ms. Poe as a candidate in the May 9 election because of her constitutional ineligibility to run; or allowing her to run simply because the Supreme Court says she can run despite what the Constitution explicitly bans.
The moral dilemma arises from the conflict between principles: (1) the principle that the Constitution is supreme in our country, to be upheld always and without exception, and (2) the principle that the Supreme court is the highest interpreter of the law.
When faced with such a situation, we are counseled by the Harvard political philosopher Michael J. Sandel in his book, Justice, what’s the right thing to do?, as follows: “we must try to figure out which principle has greater weight, or is more appropriate under the circumstances.”
Clearly, the Constitution has more weight than its interpreter. I will go farther to say that excluding Grace Poe from the electoral process is the most appropriate solution to our quandary. Indeed, no less than the Holy Bible counsels that we Filipinos ought to vomit her out.
Jonah and the whale
To understand my point here, start by recalling and re-reading the story of Jonah and the whale in the Old Testament.
In the Biblical story, Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, is thrown overboard from a ship, and is swallowed by a great fish. For three days and three nights he languishes inside the belly of the fish, which found him increasingly too hard to bear, and then finally vomited him out on dry land.
The Filipino nation finds itself today in the same situation as the fish. Grace Poe is a modern-day female Jonah in the belly of our constitutional system. We are gagging or choking on her.
If the fish could vomit Jonah out, so can the nation vomit out this woman of unknown origins.
We can do this because in the first place Poe wormed herself into the insides of our democracy by deception and subterfuge.
And this is documented in the records of the Comelec and SC decisions.
And now she stands at the forefront of a crooked scheme to capture the highest office of the land by hook and by crook.
She is challenging the nation to stop her.
Supreme Court fails the nation
The nation is caught on the horns of her ambition, because instead of bringing the controversy to a proper conclusion, the Supreme Court ran away from its sworn duty to defend and protect the Constitution.
Instead of shutting down Poe’s nefarious scheme, the Court joined her in violating the Constitution, and usurped the powers of Congress by legislating for her sake.
At the hearing of the motions for reconsideration of its March 8 decision in Baguio last week, the Court doubled down on its errors in the majority opinion instead of correcting them.
Instead of supporting the well-argued decision of the Comelec to nullify Poe’s candidacy, the Court rendered last March 8 an inconclusive and questionable ruling that she can run, but without resolving the questions about her citizenship and residency.
No wonder, the controversial verdict was appealed and challenged by two motions for review and reconsideration.
Rising public outrage
Last Saturday, the Court announced its decision to deny both motions, and its resolve not to entertain any further motions on the issue.
Yet the tough stance resolved nothing because, in fact, the court did not address the questions whether Poe is a natural-born citizen and has 10-year residence.
Members of the court will continue to debate the ruling.
Grace Poe has boasted that with the court notice, nothing can stop her now from running.
But lawyers groups, journalists and many citizens will continue to brand her as an imposter and a liar. And many are now planning to mount organized action to defy or set aside the Court’s verdict.
Public outrage is setting in where there was only confusion before.
Conspiracy against the nation
Developments over the weekend suggest that the nation faces here a full-blown conspiracy against the national interest, with President Aquino himself involved.
One development is the report of my colleague Kit Tatad in his column yesterday, wherein he reported that he had received reliable information that Aquino had a meeting with Grace Poe on the eve of the SC deliberations in Baguio.
While Aquino was hiding in his foxhole from the tragedy in Kidapawan City, he found time to plot with Poe to frustrate the review and possible reversal of the March 8 SC decision.
At the meeting, Aquino committed to ensure that the justices he had appointed to the court would remain steadfastly on Poe’s side. Poe in turn pledged to ensure that Aquino would not be charged for his crimes if she wins election to the presidency.
Aquino committed to doublecrosss his anointed, Mar Roxas, and transfer his support to Poe in the May election.
Brion blasts Baguio ruling
Equally disturbing are the criticisms leveled by Justice Arturo Brion against the SC session in Baguio City, which the Daily Tribune editor Niñez Cacho – Olivares documented in a fine column yesterday.
Brion raised the following issues:
1. The Court did not follow its rules and procedures in resolving the motions for reconsideration.
Brion recounted at the court’s first meeting in Baguio City for its summer session, one of the items taken up was the case of Poe. He said in the usual course, the respondent would have been required to comment on the motions for reconsideration filed.
Yet no comment was offered. To the surprise of those who dissented from the majority’s ruling, the ponente (Associate Justice Jose Perez) simply recommended to the court en banc the outright dismissal of the motions for reconsideration through a minute resolution, which is a simple resolution denying the motions for reconsideration for lack of merit.
“We pointedly asked if the ponente would write an extended resolution that would at least explain the reason or reasons for the outright denial. The answer was a simple ‘No,’” Brion said.
Second, the Court did not issue an extended ruling or reasoning that can be read by the public as a ponencia coming from the court.
Brion said this was a strange stance for the majority to take because their decision has been “questioned by different sectors for the confusion it sowed, and their avowed mission, among others, is to educate the bench, the bar, and members of the public on matters of law.”
He charged that the demeanor of the majority has “led to more questions about the court.” Third, Brion claimed that the Court has assumed the character of the House of Representatives, which uses the tyranny of numbers to grant the wishes of President Aquino, who has tapped Poe as an alternate candidate.
Under the circumstances that the decision was made, Brion said, the SC “has not fully discharged its sworn duty in ruling on this case.”
A recipe for crisis
These developments are a recipe for a constitutional crisis.
With a Supreme Court unwilling to do its duty, the people, who are the true sovereign, can do what it wills and what it must.
The course is open for defiance and challenge of the court ‘s decision.
The people can themselves order the Commission on Elections to discharge its constitutional duty to conduct the May elections, and expunge Grace Poe from the balloting. While her name can no longer be removed from the ballot, her votes will not be counted. This way, Aquino and Poe will not pocket anything.
This is equivalent to vomiting Grace Poe out of the nation‘s constitutional system. She deserves no protection from the Charter, which she has so arrogantly violated.