Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino 3rd is given the authority to control the government in general.
The fact, however, is that some other entity is doing it.
That is the problem.
1. The fundamental law provides that:
“The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed” (Sec. 17, ART. VII).
“The President shall be the Commander-in Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines. . .” (Sec. 18, id.).
2. What is control?
It means the President’s exercise of discretion is superior to, or prevails over, that of his subordinates.
3. What is discretion?
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, it is:
“A liberty or privilege to decide and act in accordance with what is fair and equitable under the peculiar circumstances of the particular case, guided by the spirit and principles of the law.”
4. A distinction must be made between the exercise of discretion and discretion by itself. While one may have the discretion, it is possible he is not exercising it.
5. In the same way, one may have the right, but he is not necessarily exercising it. A right refers to the entitlement to the satisfaction of human needs and wants.
6. Also, one may have the duty, but he is not necessarily performing it. Duty, in the context of government, is the juridical necessity to make right things happen and stop wrong things from happening.
7. There is also the matter of honesty. One may be honest, but it is possible he is acting dishonestly. Honesty, in law school, is taught to be living the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
8. Finally, there is the matter of good faith. One may have good faith, but it is possible he is acting in bad faith. Good faith, in law, means the intention to do right and do no harm.
9. There are about a thousand executive offices in government, including offices under the judicial and legislative departments which perform essentially executive or administrative functions.
10. There are 16 regions, about 75 provinces, about 65 cities, about 1,500 municipalities, and about 42,000 barangays, with a total constituency of about 100 million citizens, and as many corresponding public officers as provided by law.
11. There are about 1.5 million government officials and employees.
12. A day consists of 24 hours. A person normally sleeps 8 hours a day. Thus, he still has 16 hours for his personal needs and educational, business, or practice of profession.
13. There are 7 days a week, minus Saturdays and Sundays when most government offices are closed. Official non-working holidays and natural or artificial disasters must also be considered. Hence, there are generally only 5 working days in a week, except those offices like the military, police, medical, and fire departments.
14. The question is:
With all the foregoing premises, with PNoy having a maximum of 16 working hours a day, is it reasonable to believe he does exercise effective control over the government of the Republic of the Philippines?
The answer is either yes or no.
If the answer is yes, PNoy is not only better than the former lawyer-presidents like Ferdinand Marcos and Diosdado Macapagal who both topped the bar examinations. PNoy must be a veritable superman.
If the answer is no, PNoy would do well to be honest enough to resign, and allow somebody else who can give life to the constitutional imperative of presidential control and take charge. Otherwise, every Filipino must live in acceptance of the unconstitutionality of having a chief executive who is not in control.