• Putting Poe on the ballot, Pacquiao in the Senate


    Escalating trend
    Desperate efforts to save the presidential candidacy of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares are bound to intensify in the wake of The Manila Times report that the Supreme Court justice tasked to write the Majority ruling in this case is disposed to declare that the Commission on Elections did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it ruled to disqualify her and cancel her Certificate of Candidacy for President. This is but to be expected. But whatever happens, money should never be allowed to overthrow the Constitution and subvert the rule of law and the administration of justice. The consequences could be incalculable.

    The Constitution provides that no person may be elected President unless he is, among other things, a “natural-born citizen” and a resident of the country for at least 10 years immediately preceding the election. The Comelec has agreed with petitioners Francisco Tatad, Estrella Elamparo, Antonio Contreras and Amado Valdez that as a foundling born of no known parentage, who later became an American citizen and lived with her American family in the US, returned to the country after her adoptive father died in 2004 but renounced her US citizenship and sought to “reacquire” Philippine citizenship (which she never had) very much later, Mrs. Llamanzares misrepresented herself in claiming that she meets the constitutional requirements.

    She has gone to the Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari, saying the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it ruled against her, and asked the High Court to temporarily restrain the implementation of the Comelec ruling. The Court granted a Temporary Restraining Order, and after five en banc hearings is now ready to rule.

    Will money rule?
    But people are worried about all the terrible rumors they are hearing. Even in church, in the middle of Mass during this Lenten season, some elderly matron would touch me on the shoulder from behind to ask how the case is moving. They do not seem to mind interrupting their meditation and prayers. They are not worried that either the petitioners’ and the Comelec’s reading of the Constitution or that of the Justices could be wrong, but that the devil’s temptation, which our Lord rejected at the desert, and a tiny portion of which Judas readily accepted to betray his Master would ultimately decide whether or not Mrs. Llamanzares is natural-born.

    Absolute restraint is needed among those who seem to believe that with all their money, they could swing the case in her favor. My fellow Times columnist Yen Makabenta has identified my friend Ramon S. Ang as the one bankrolling Mrs. Llamanzares’ “candidacy”; former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column, continues to instruct the Justices, in utter contempt of court, how to dispose of the case; and Danding Cojuangco’s National People’s Coalition, which RSA also supports, has just endorsed Mrs. Llamanzares, as though she were now a bona fide candidate, with no constitutional impediment.

    Prepare to do what we must
    I find all these regrettable. But having put our case before the Court as clearly, as truthfully and as humbly as we could, we should now pray for the best, and prepare to do what we must should evil strike, rather than speculate on what will happen. That said, we must now recognize that not only the presidential race deserves sorting out, but the senatorial race as well. This also deserves our preferential attention and concern.

    The old Senate
    The Senate is now 100 years old. But it is no longer the institution it used to be. The likes of Manuel L. Quezon, Claro M. Recto, Quintin Paredes, Camilo Osias, Cipriano Primicias, Ferdinand Marcos, Arturo M. Tolentino, Lorenzo M. Tanada, Jose Wright Diokno, etc. are gone; men and women without quality have replaced men and women of substance and high moral and intellectual worth. The striving for intellectual, parliamentary and legislative excellence has been overtaken by the passion for unaccountable power and illegitimate financial gain.

    Taking its name from the Latin “Senex,” which means “old man,” the Senate used to be the hallmark of seniority—-senior in age, senior in wisdom, senior in integrity, senior in dignity. All that has changed. And world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao seems bent to change it further still. Should we allow him to become one of its illustrious members? This is one of the more challenging questions for our voters.

    Personal aside
    I write as a former senator. After 10 long years in the Cabinet, six years at the interim Batasang Pambansa, a six-year return to journalism, I served in the Senate for two consecutive terms, mostly as Majority Floor Leader through five changes in the office of the Senate President. While the Senate President presided, I ran the Senate business on the Floor during some of its most productive periods in recent years.

    Aside from sponsoring major acts, I authored three books during these two terms—two (“Making the System Work,” and “Guarding the Public Trust”) made up of significant speeches on the floor of the Senate and in some international parliamentary forums, and another (“A Nation on Fire: the Unmaking of Joseph Ejercito Estrada and the Remaking of Democracy in the Philippines”), on Estrada’s ouster. These were probably the last three significant books written by any senator in the last so many years.

    When I left the Senate in 2001, it was still a functioning assembly where burning issues were debated and mature and lofty ideas were exchanged for the edification, enlightenment and enjoyment of the public. Commercial television stopped covering its plenary sessions after they ceased to be the source of worthwhile ideas or even simple news stories. As a former senator, I find myself speaking to more national issues at any given day than any sitting senator. It is execrable.

    No improvement
    The May elections promise no improvement upon the Senate. With 50 candidates running, one cannot seem to find 12 who are fit. Some people have asked me to share my own choices; I have politely declined, not wanting to be held accountable for their wrong choice. I feel like the chairman of the board in a literary contest, who has to go through tons and tons of literary entries, out of which there is not one worthy of a First Prize. The organizers expect the least unworthy to get the Prize; but I feel the entire competition should be junked.

    The deterioration has gone unchecked. Its physical appearance alone offends the senses; the proceedings within its walls offend the intellect. As one of “the efficient parts” of the Constitution (Bagehot), it is supposed “to teach the nation what it does not know,” “ express the will of the people,” “inform the Executive of the grave matters before it.” It has ceased to do anything of these, and has become instead a mere adjunct of an imperial Office of the President.

    Housed in one hired wing of a government building, it makes no attempt to rise to corporate standards. Infinitely poorer countries have managed to invest their legislative chambers with greater sovereign dignity and architectural elegance. What it lacks in aesthetics, it lacks in integrity too. In the last few years, it has gone through a rubbishing, from which no immediate recovery seems possible.

    For the first time in its history, this sovereign body swore in a member who had to employ an official interpreter to translate English, the official language of legislation, into Filipino, so he could follow the discussions. Six years later, he was handily reelected.

    For the first time in its history, this exclusive assembly of 24 members, representing some 20 million Filipino families, for a population of 105 million, brought in a mother-and-son, a brother and sister, and two men of the same father, in utter contempt of the constitutional provision against political dynasties.

    For the first time in history, senator-judges swore to render “impartial justice” in a Senate impeachment but ultimately received bribes from Malacañang to convict and remove the respondent Chief Justice on one questionable charge out of eight original charges, seven of which the prosecution abandoned during the proceedings.

    For the first time in its history, the Senate allowed a small cabal of members to abuse their parliamentary privilege and destroy parliamentary procedure by carrying out an investigation against the Vice President of the Philippines, who is now running for President, on alleged corruption committed so many years earlier when he was still a local executive. Instead of stopping the outrage, the Chairman of the Committee on Rules and the Senate President encouraged it for their own purposes.

    For the first time in history, the President of the Philippines deprived the Senate of its right to concur in the ratification of a defense agreement with the United States in defiance of Section 25, Article XVIII of the Constitution, which provides: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting state.”

    The Supreme Court upheld this patently unconstitutional act as “constitutional,” and the Senate took no further step to assert its right.

    For the first time in history, a private petitioner asked the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to dismiss a sitting senator for not being a natural-born citizen, having been born a foundling of no known parentage 47 years ago. All three Justices and one Senator on the Tribunal agreed she is disqualified to sit under the Constitution, but five senators upheld her “right” to remain in the Senate, for reasons outside and contrary to the Constitution.

    Enter Pacquiao
    And now for the first time in history, world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao wants a seat in the Senate. Many are alarmed he might make it. Despite his lack of education, he is now a boxing legend, the toast of the international set. In a recent dinner I had with some friends in Salt Lake City, one of the actors in “God is not Dead” who sat next to me kept on talking about “Manny Pacquiao and how great a guy he is.”

    Lately, Pacquiao has been in the news. Senatorial candidate Walden Bello is worried that his April 9 scheduled bout with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas could give him so much undue TV advantage over all the other candidates–for free. And that should be prohibited. I am not sure the Election Law can do anything about it. The TV coverage will be originating from abroad, so he’ll have nothing to do with it; all he’ll have to do is knock out Bradley or get knocked out.

    Perhaps what the Comelec can do is to bar all TV sets from carrying the fight, or stop the fight altogether on the ground that Pacquiao must be protected from any possible head injury from could impair his ability to think. The real objection though is that the Senate is not for anyone who has devoted his entire basic education to his fists.

    But given the present quality of our Senate, lack of character, lack of integrity, and lack of patriotism are much more unspeakable defects. Who, among our present crop of legislators, would have the moral courage to tell the Solicitor General or Ms. Hontiveros that not even animals would consider same-sex marriage? Moreover, if Einstein in his prime had decided to box, would the boxing community have said he had too big a brain for it?



    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. Fred fundador on

      Our country if my memory serves me right has more than 500,000 college graduates every year not including those with master,ph.d.Why then we have a country like this,please help me find the cause.Since then I always read your column and listen to you whenever possible,trying to preserve the remaining few of your kind,continue writing and share with your God given talent/wisdom.

    2. artemio de Guzman on

      It’s good that Marcos declared martial law to save the Philippines from communism much worse than Cambondia’s killing fields.

      Aquino has plunged the nation glaringly a vassal of the USÀ.

      The Philippines now should drop its ties with the USA and strngthen its friendship and doreign relations with Russia – the new leader nation of the coming new multi-polar Christian world where no nation is treated as a vassal.

    3. Well, I guess the best senate was when one guy called Ferdinand E. Marcos was the senate president. Not only was he eloquent in his delivery with his baritone voice but he has crafted a lot of bills more than any other senator of his time. Compare that with one scrooge called benigno aquino jr. who has to plagiarize one bill from raul and call it his own. I guess, when the senate started having one plagiarist in their midst, that started its downtrend.

    4. Huwag bigyan ng magandang edukasyon ang mamayang filipino para maging mangmang at makontrol ng mga pulitikong dilawan or moron. Iyan ang policy ng dilawang administration. Sinira ni Abno ang Philippine constitution as well as Judiciary system.. Because of money…Naging mangmang na ang mga Filipino mula ng maging Presidente si coyrkong aquino. I remember during corykong presidency, OXFORD DICTIONARY gave a the meaning of FILIPINA , ” domestic helper…” nakakainsulto sa ating pagkatao, ng dahil sa Presidenteng ito, bumaba and dignity ng ating mamayan,.
      Kaya for me , the mother and son, (both moron) were the worst President of the Philippines ever had.

    5. I also meant to mention about the flag. I think your laws are way way to strict & silly on this. You mention the will of the people well let me tell you almost every single athlete who ever won a medal at the olympics wants to wear his flag as he runs around the arena so everyone can see his country of which he is so proud. By my seeing Madona wearing the Philippine flag is showing nothing but respect for the Philippines. She is saying to the world look im here in the Philippines, this is their flag, its a great country to visit, please think of the Philippines. I do not see disrespect for the country at all in wearing a countries flag, now burning it is a different matter. Most football fans when attending an international football competition will proudly wear their flag, its respect not disrespect, but hey the Philippines sees what every other country does & does it differently.

    6. I was one who thought grace would be a good president but i am now of changed mind. The reason is Philnews.com editoral on comparing her to Cory Aquino. Her intentions i think ( & would hope ) are well meaning but her inexperience will let the country down. You talk about buying votes well every single senator wannabee has done that. How many of you when campaigning used to throw a few candies for the poor to chase after, they then think that candidate is a good person & cares for them. Now also you mention the integrity of past senators, wow thats a good one, how many are innocent of stealing ( in the millions of pesos at the least ) & why oh why did not a single one of you ever see or work out billions of tax payers money was being stolen by the very people elected to manage it. Im sure you are able like me to link that with the bank secrecy law. Now how you are getting people against the supreme court is tell the people they are being bought.
      Anyway thats enough from me today. ButBinay is the most corrupt in running for president & i hope he doesnt get elected, other than that im not sure who it should be, maybe Mar.

    7. si tatad at mga kasamahan nuong panahon ni marcos ang pinakamagagaling pa ring lawmakers.yong mga kasalukuyan.wala nang sinabi.

    8. sen kit, there is an expose written by ninez in the TRIBUNE today saying that llamanzares had 2 repeat 2 social security numbers in the usa. one is originally owned by a dead man and one issued after her marriage. it proves that since then, llamanzares cannot be trusted. she violated the laws of the usa and luckily was not caught. and now she violated our constitution and MIGHT GET AWAY WITH IT due to pressure on the jurists to make her a natural born. if that happens, what will happen to our constitution. i want to know the reasons why the jurists who would vote favoring her are. nakakiyak ang posibilidad na ito. what will happen to our country?? will the jurists make this country a BANANA REPUBLIC???

    9. pedro somoroy on

      watch out! brian llamanzares is an american! he is campaigning for grace poe.
      that’s american intervention!

    10. best bet combination. duterte-robredo/ cayetano. if fakman wins, just another wasted senate position.

    11. pepeng tomas on

      mga BOBOtante ang mga botanteng Pilpino baka nga manalo pa ang anak ng magnanakaw na si BBM ….. Pilipinas saan ka papunta…………..

    12. Amnata Pundit on

      How many times have Boy Sayad been invited to the White House for a one-on-one with Obama? Manny was invited once for a one-on-one, and another time for a gathering. I think the Kano have plans for Manny, but I think he is bright enough to see through it all and will not sell the country down the drain like Cory, FVR, GMA and Boy Sayad did. He is another Erap in the making. Lets help him instead of pulling him down.

    13. Ramon Ang, of course, has immense personal vested interest in this whole Llamanzares/Escudero presidency scheme. He’s using them as a facade. Why else you think Llamanzares can’t wait until 2022? Why does she have to run now? It’s the greedy and ambitious oligarchs and hungry for power government officials who are pushing their own agenda masterminding Llamanzares’ candidacy. Dancing Cojuangco is another scheming businessman with personal interest in the presidential hat. It is sad how this country has become. I’m not even sure if justice will prevail in the highest court of the land, but I’m hoping against all odds that despite the money-hungry wolves in our country, the ray of justice will still shine upon us. We shall see….

    14. Too nice an article sir Tatad. You know I thought all this time that the Supreme Court is the last bastion of our inalienable right as people equal irrespective of position or wealth but you have just debunked it. The senate during my prime years although I am not that bright is the only place you can learn and see decent people display their intelligence. You have enumerated people that won senate seats. People overwhelmingly voted them. Why? I heard people say because of MONEY. Now I rest my case.
      I thank you for the opportunity reading your article. I hope we live long enough to see improvement of the Beloved Country the PHILIPPINES

      • clemente patong on

        he knows it sir thats why he wrote this article…thats why he and cohorts filed petition to the supreme court to disqualify Poe…

      • clemente patong on

        im sorry sir wrong reply…it should be for teodoro reynoso….sori po…

    15. Reynaldo A.Santos on

      Ang Galing mo sir!!! I salute you for such an impressive article, the Senate where it stands now is really unspeakable, ako rin nangangarap na bumalik ang time nila Diokno, Tañada, Rock at iba pang magagaling na senador, konti na lang natitira sa lahi ninyo, kaya dapat lang na maawaken ang mga youth kasi sila na ang may tinig ngayon, again thank you sir tuloy po ninyo ang inyong mabuting gawain

      • to me the senate should be abolished. sayang lang ang gastos sa mga senador. si miriam at tanda na lang yata ang nasa kalibre nung mga senate greats in the 1970s and below. after 1986, the quality went down slowly

    16. I suggest that Mr. Tatad make a thorough research on the Malolos Constitution which first defined Filipino citizenship and also the 1935 and the 1973 Constitutions which adopted the definition but limited the candidacy and election to government posts, chiefly the presidency and the legislature only to natural born citizens in those sunder times when there were full-blooded foreigners or descendants of native and foreign inter- marriages calling or presenting themselves as Filipinos. This very safeguard was adopted almost to the letter in the 1987 Constitution.

      Poe being a foundling whose parentage and their citizenship at the time of her birth are still a mystery cannot be ruled as natural born citizen but only as naturalized citizen in view of this strict safeguard enshrine in the Malolos, 1935, 1973 and 1987 constitutions.

      Our heroes and our forefathers were very straight-forward and strict about this safeguard to preclude and prevent the installation of people in the highest seats of the government with roots that cannot be ascertained to be in full accord with what they fought and died for.

    17. @ Francisco Tatad

      I was with my cousins who were at that time columnists for the old Manila Times and The Manila Chronicle when I first saw you at the National Press Club. That was almost 50 years ago before your political benefactor, the late Catanduanes kingpin Rep.Jose Alberto gave you your first baptism in the real world of politics. Who ever thought that you would someday serve in those very important positions. Politics have indeed been very kind to you and your family.

      Growing up, I too loved going to senate and house sessions to watch our revered politicians. Tanada and Diokno, I think were the best of the old NP. Manglapus, Manahan and Aquino were the best and most eloquent of them all. Don’t we all long for the good old days when members of the house and the senate spoke in the English language and understood what they were talking about. That was the real golden age of the old congress.

      Clearly, like time that have passed and gone, it will not come back again. You had the privilege to serve in the revived congress and you knew it was not the same as the one that preceded you. In today’s congress, I see a picture of a dying specie.

      I think the country should welcome the addition of Manny Pacquiao in the senate. As a person and humanitarian, Manny have helped more people than most of the good politicians that you mentioned in this article. Spending his own money, Manny has built and provided “Habitat for Humanity” type houses not only for his constituents but to those that were ravaged by the last typhoon. He has provided jobs and through his scholarship fund he sends young people to college. As a senator,Manny
      can do much more. He may not become a good parliamentarian but he will not become a corrupt politician. Like the late Fernando Poe Jr, who in his simple quiet way of service to others had sent hundreds of people to college, paid for their clothes and books, paid for hundreds of funeral services and other humanitarian acts.

    18. For the first time in our history, we have a derange person, a mentally-challenged one holding the most powerful position of the land. For how could a Filipino people elect him when he had threatened mob if he won’t get a 5M votes margin from his closest rival? So PCOS became the answer. We then have an “honest” president who won’t put public funds in his pocket but in other man’s pocket provided said man is/are his KKKK and political friends willing to put forward his personal interest. The rest, as they say, is history.

      For the first time in our history, the Supreme Court is headed by an equally mentally challenge Chief Justice unfit for the position. The current Chief Justice flunk her psychological test. That’s probably the reason why for the first time in our history our Supreme Court Justices are indecisive as to take them eternity to decide a simple case of citizenship. Citizenship of a Filipino has been clearly defined in our Constitution yet up to now they haven’t voted on it yet. This is despite the fact that the case before them is of utmost important to the nation. Reports we are reading, in making the decision, justices are well aware and are taking into consideration of what will become of them should a favor presidential candidate lose. In other words, its personal interest first before national interest.

      God bless the Philippines!

    19. Pacquiao, just like those from showbiz……, Jawo and Webb plus the alumni of the
      Fort del Pilar School of Business and Gunpowder.

      We should go parliamentary, again.

    20. Animals have a higher sense of morality with regards to sex, females accept males only when they are in heat that is when they are ready for procreation as God commands.Humans do it for pleasure anytime any place and any positions in the same gender. Sex is also used by humans for commercial and entertainment purposes.They screw us everywhere like the politicians of this years election. I hope Grace Poe wont be screwed by you and your ilks in the Supreme court doing it in guise of the constitution just to alter the equation favoring your chosen candidate.

    21. Dennis Fernandez on

      No less than former U.S. President Bill Clinton expressed his belief that Manny Pacquiao will become president of the Philippines without commenting on the latter’s lack of qualification, which is a subtle way of saying how bad and stupid the Filipino electorate is.

    22. Demetrio Ponce on

      It is true that the Senate on many occasions has abdicated its constitutional responsibility as the other chamber of the legislative branch of government to check the abuses of the executive. It has merely become a tool for the imperial executive, to rubber stamp the agenda of the President. This was very evident in the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona. Elected officials, in carrying out their duties, no longer are dictated by their governing principles and love of country. They have merely become an extension and tools of of the the administration (remember DAP and PDAP?). Sad to say, we don’t have a real democracy in the sense that the legislative branch is very much subservient to the President. The real purpose of the Senate is to be a distinguished and deliberative body in a democratic society. It cannot exercise this function if we continue to elect people with no proven integrity, education and love of country.

    23. In one of your column, Mr. Tatad, I remember you writing what have we become as a nation? Or as a people? Is it far-fetched to think that we did not live up to the promise when the US granted us our independence after “training” us for self-government almost 50 years? What is our basic flaw as a people which prevented us to really be united as one nation or has remained poor when the other neighboring countries prospered? I venture to say that the cause of our misfortune is that love or greed for “gold” as the Bible says or money in modern language. It overshadows any other kind of love like love for your fellow Filipinos.

    24. The Senate started being prostituted when Corazon C. Aquino came into power. What was/is Jawarosky, Webb, Legarda, Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada, J.V Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Bam Aquino, Cynthia Villar, Grace P. Llamanzares, Noli de Castro doing in the Senate? These personalities are just like Jesters making fun and insulting the institution called the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines.

      • Francis Dizon on

        And still, people are wondering why the country is so screwed up! Excellent, my man.

    25. Blame the Filipino voters. Filipino voters before were smart and intelligent unlike at the present where they will surely vote for Eat Bulaga actors, actor like Estradas, Nonsense Binay who knows nothing except to be the maid of the CORRUPT VP Binay. And majority of these senators do not even know parliamentary procedures, cannot speak straight English and to sum it all STUPID senators voted by STUPID voters.

      • I’m a voter and don’t blame me. Blame the comelec/smartmatic.Do you think the votes of the filipino people are counted? Idon’t think so.

    26. Will money rule?

      Of course money will rule, this is the Philippines we are talking about.
      The Supreme Court is filled with Aquino appointee’s , how long are people going to keep hoping and fooling themselves in thinking this is a country where duty and honor above all else.

      This is the Philippines, the entire government is corrupt

      The only question is what will the people do about it ?

      • in answer to your question, Nothing. They will open their TV sets, see what, who looks good and funny and vote for him/her. Show a monkey who makes them laugh and they will vote for it.

        Don’t blame the morons who make it to the senate….but the people who put them there.