• Ultimate quintessential ‘political question’


    WERE I to be baselessly defamed by a sitting lawmaker in the halls of Congress, I cannot sue him as he may not be questioned in any other place under the Constitution.(Art. VI, Sec. 11). The matter is exclusively vested in the chamber itself, perhaps for its ethics committee to probe. That is one type of Political Question (PQ) no court or other agency may touch.

    The other type of PQ is one left to the people, in their sovereign capacity, to decide. I submit that the issue of who will lead us in 2016-22 is too important to leave to the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the Commission on Elections, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, or the Supreme Court, to decide. Involve the People and honor their will.

    In Tañada v. Cuenco, 100 Phil 1101 (1957), the Supreme Court said that PQ “refers to those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch of the government.

    Prudential considerations and policy justifications favor Grace Poe, in my view.

    Grace – who got 20,337,327 votes in 2013, from electors who did not suspect she was Martian or Manchurian – I like for making me feel she would not steal a singkong duling. I like her too because of my lifelong sympathy, as a human rights advocate, for the handicapped, the underdog. She was a pulot, in Jaro, Iloilo, for whom the law is biased under Art. 24 of the Civil Code, in our society that would be “humane,” in our Constitution’s Preamble. An abandoned love child comes to this world with two strikes against him and I won’t join anyone dumping or piling on him. “Ikaw, pulot, anak sa labas, putok sa buho, patunayan mo kungsino ang magulang mo. Pinoy ba?” Cruel, insensitive and unreasonable, I submit.

    I won’t commit at this time to vote for her, though.

    It’s just that I don’t enjoy a pulot – not his fault – being kicked around.

    But, I posit that Grace is a natural-born Pinoy in the sense defined by Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, in our class, “one born a citizen.” I do not see her as having been born a Martian or Manchurian smuggled in surreptitiously as an infant. She looks and talks like many of us, she laughs, she cries, she fears, she dreams. Probability is the one witness who never lies or errs.

    She should not have the burden of proof.

    One perceived to have been elected has legitimacy, vital in trying to lead an arguably ungovernable nation of more than 100M conejos.

    So let the voter, as a particle of popular sovereignty, decide who we will next punish to try to lead unleadable us, a nation of scofflaws.

    So also I am against knocking off nuisance candidates, save those with the clear intent to mock the process, as in an obscure Sanchez running for senator, causing Bobbit Sanchez to lose in 1987. My Pasig townsman (not “townmate,” please) even lost as stray votes ballots with only Sanchez on same sank his chances. Else, with automation, let anyone dream and fantasize.

    Sanity is supposed to be a qualification for marriage. A teacher of mine said in fact insanity was. Part of election lore is that only Pascual Racuyal, released from National Mental Hospital (NMH), could claim on the hustings that he was the only established sane candidate, and had NMH documentation to back it up.

    Sen. Miriam invokes the right of privacy in resisting an appeal for her to disclose her medical record. So there is tension between her undoubted right to privacy and the equally undoubted right of the public to know the health or medical background of any presidential candidate.

    Grace’s residence?
    Arguably short by a few months, if that? This jurassic standard was meant to make sure one is familiar with the problems of her turf. But, one can keep track today of local conditions even when abroad, by radio-TV, computer, fax, mobile phones, email, ipods, etc. No more American President Lines or old propeller craft. One can fly from Manila to San Francisco nonstop in a matter of a little over 12 hours. So, el sitio nada importa. The place does not matter. That is why it is easy to accept that a promdi Cong staying mostly in Metro Manila, where he may have a second home (and family?), qualifies as a Cong representing some faraway place with a strange-sounding name.

    It is important that the next Prez, whoever he/she may be, enjoy the widest, biggest mandate.

    Let not the SET, Comelec, SC, but the People, as particles of popular sovereignty, decide.


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    1. This is very big mistake comments by Mr. Saguisag. Ano pa ang mga batas na ginagawa para sa ating Philippine constitution ng mga congressman at senators. Kung ang pinapasunod mo “let the people decide” , para ano pa ang congress , senado at supreme court. Idissolve na lang ang mga iyan, at magtatag na lang tayo ng “PEOPLES COURT” …at bahala na sila ang magdecide.. uncivilized nation…

    2. as i read through the comments, it appears that everybody is a law expert going by the legal positions they pose, however, since not every one is a lawyer, it just nakes me conclude that it’s all a waste of time. Although i agree with Saguisag that:

      “I submit that the issue of who will lead us in 2016-22 is too important to leave to the Senate Electoral Tribunal, the Commission on Elections, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, or the Supreme Court, to decide. Involve the People and honor their will.
      In Tañada v. Cuenco, 100 Phil 1101 (1957), the Supreme Court said that PQ “refers to those questions which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in their sovereign capacity, “

    3. Vladimir Olivares on

      Following Senator Saguisag line of thinking, can we now elect a Filipino, US citizen if she or he wins in our election?

    4. Hahahahahaha, ang mga Pinoys nagdidikusyon nang mga Cabal-balan nang naka latag na bulok na sistema.

      Si M L Quezon na mismo ang nagsabi na mas gugustuhin pa niya na ang RP ay pamunuan at pangunahan nang isang tunay na anak nang Bayan que ito ay pairalin sa pamamaraan’g mala impiyerno kaysa isang mala suave, maayos at matinon’ng pamamalakad ng mga dayuhan. 80 taon na siguro ang mga kataga na iyon ni MLQ.
      At ngayon, RP ay isa nang maunlad na bansa at tinaguriang ‘Sick Man of Asia”

      Sa pamumuno at pamamalakd nang mga Baluktot at vested-self interest nang mga natural born leaders nito. Pawang mga KAWATAN ng Fondo ng Bayan, Sulsol ditto, Tustos Doon sa mga Magnanakaws na Congs at Sens nang mga sari sari’ng black political agendas para mapanatili ang Bulok na status Quo.
      Hindi ko ini endorse si Grace Poe. Inilalahad ko lang ang Bulok na Sistema na naka latag sa inyong harapan, mismo. GUMISING KAYO MGA NATUTULOG NA MGA MASA. GINAGAWA KAYONG MANGMANG. MATAGAL NA KAYONG MINAMANGMANG NG PATRONAGED AT PERSONAL NA SISTEMA-POLITIKA.

    5. Sen. Saguisag knows what’s involved here. As a big time defender, his position surprised me, when he skipped the complex structure of law, instead leaned heavily on the “will of the people” and seems like the sound bites Poe’s will use during the campaign. Its a recycle word of “para sa mahirap”, used by Estrada. Oxales were right the constitution is the highest will of the people and we should stick to that.

    6. I many posts, I have been advancing the ‘PQ theory’ to settle this issue. Below is just one of my posts re: Jurado’s column in Manila Standard Today the other day again about Grace Poe or foundling issue: (verbatim)

      “Kahit basahin man natin nang sanlibong beses pasulong o pabaligtad ang Consti., you will not find a single provision (express or implied) that says that a foundling IS a natural-born citizen BUT equally, there is also no provision that says a foundling IS NOT a natural born citizen because the few appointed people who drafted the consti has no inkling that someday, a foundling (batang-kalsada to them) would run for president-a position they thought is reserved and exclusive only among their co-elites. So this issue become by implication a “political question” which no court or tribunal can adjudicate and should be decided by the sovereign people themselves.
      More than 20 million who voted GP has already spoken. But if this is not yet enough, the SET or Comelec can do a ‘Solomonic approach’ by just letting GP run.

      I think this will be the most ideal solution: no winner-no loser.”

    7. What!!let the people decide,,anak ka ng konejo Mr.Saguisag, d ako lawyer, pero nere respeto ko ang phil constitution , true blooded lawyer ka nga,ang mali gigawang tama,ang tama gnagawang mali. Masagasaan ka sa sinabi mo.

    8. Mr. Saguisag, I respectfully disagree with your comments that not the SET, PET, Comm Elec. or Supreme Court should not decide the Re: issues of of Grace Poe, eh ganoon pala, then just abolish all those government entities you said n let the people decide on everything the government does. Based from your comments it appears that those legitimate government agencies u mentioned are inutil Problem solved.

    9. Alberto Oxales on

      Letting the ballot decide on the qualification of a candidate or of holding elective public office goes against the wisdom of not only another lawyer but of the whole Supreme Court. As penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the case of Maquiling vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 195649, April 16, 2013 –
      “The popular vote does not cure the
      ineligibility of a candidate.
      The ballot cannot override the constitutional and statutory requirements for qualifications and disqualifications of candidates. When the law requires certain qualifications to be possessed or that certain disqualifications be not possessed by persons desiring to serve as elective public officials, those qualifications must be met before one even becomes a candidate. When a person who is not qualified is voted for and eventually garners the highest number of votes, even the will of the electorate expressed through the ballot cannot cure the defect in the qualifications of the candidate. To rule otherwise is to trample upon and render asunder the very law that sets forth the qualifications and disqualifications of candidates. We might as well write off our election laws if the voice of the electorate is the sole determinant of who should be proclaimed worthy to occupy elective positions in our republic.
      This has been, in fact, already laid down by the Court in Frivaldo v. COMELEC, 255 SCRA. 934, 944 (1989). when we pronounced:
      x x x. The fact that he was elected by the people of Sorsogon does not excuse this patent violation of the salutary rule limiting public office and employment only to the citizens of this country. The qualifications prescribed for elective office cannot be erased by the electorate alone.
      The will of the people as expressed through the ballot cannot cure the vice of ineligibility, especially if they mistakenly believed, as in this case, that the candidate was qualified. Obviously, this rule requires strict application when the deficiency is lack of citizenship. If a person seeks to serve in the Republic of the Philippines, he must owe his total loyalty to this country only, abjuring and renouncing all fealty and fidelity to any other state.”

      The resort to just consider the popular will without the rule of law is not wisdom. Some may even call it mob rule. Would the same wisdom be applied if Binay was the foundling?

      We might forget the Constitution is a manifestation of the will of the people because it was overwhelmingly ratified by the electorate. It cannot be set aside by a popular survey or even a popular vote which would not even be the majority of the electorate.

      In the case cited above, the law was strict with regard to a local official, now it was proposed that we allow a less strict approach for the position of President just because of emotional reasons and popularity of a candidate. Isn’t that discriminatory and illogical? Yet it is considered fair and wise.

    10. Just asking! – When one recovers his or her Filipino citizenship by choice (by renouncing all others), we say that he/she recovers all her rights as such Filipino citizen. In fact, if he/she is a natural born, he/she recovers and enjoys that status too. Essentially everything returns. What about his/her “residency” in the Philippines prior to abandoning Filipino citizenship, is that not also restored, included in the computation of the required residency? Mr. Rene and Mr. Chief Justice Artem, if you have time, please address this query. Thank you.

    11. To let the people decide, as what Atty. Saguisag proposes, will set a very bad precedent. The proposal is subjectly based and complicates what is cleat and simple. What is more important is to follow what the constitution says.

    12. That’s right, when the facts are not in your favor, just say its a political question and let the undisguised cheating machines of Comelec/Smartmatic settle it. Typical yellow evasive tactics.

    13. jose taganahan on

      In the Philippines, there are only two kinds of citizens. the natural born citizens and the naturalized citizen and since Senator Grace Poe has never undergone naturalization process to become a Filipino citizen (and became Senator in 2013), she is no doubt a natural born Filipino citizen.

    14. mahiwagang tao on

      Let the people decide? ha? What is then the purpose of our constitution … MR. Saguisag? Para que pa ang consitution natin? Why do we need laws if every time we have a problem .. ” let the people decide”?

      Hay naku. I am not a lawyer yet I believe the domicile and citizenship of Mrs. Llamanzares are valid legal issues. I could not understand to hear from both you and artemio panganiban “these words.. ” Let the people decide” na mga lawyer pa naman kayo..

      • “Let the people decide”. This is Pontius Pilate kind of judgement which is an injustice to the Filipinos which ratified the constitution.

      • ewan ko lang bakit ganun ang opinyon ni atty saguisag. pilit nilang itinatapon ang konstitusyon para lang kay llamanzares. this llamanzares is causing the the pilipinos to thrash the constitution just to vote for her. kung bakit?? walang nakakaalam. e wala namang nagagawa pa yang si llamanzares na pwedeng ipagsigawan sa mundo. alin yung mamamsapano massacre report?? e hindi nga nya isinumite sa plenaryo para aprubahan kung hindi itinapon nya sa archieves. yung mrt imbestigasyon nya, ano na ang resulta?? hindi nga nya mapapunta sa imbestigasyon si abaya. GUMISING NAMAN KAYO MGA NAGTUTULOGTULUGAN. CLONE SI LLAMANZARES NG AQUINO MOTHER AND SON.

    15. As much as I admire you and read your column every week, I beg to disagree with you this time Senator Saguisag. For we are a nation of laws and not of men. We should be guided by our laws and our constitution. Why make Senator Llamanzares an exception to the rule?

    16. Let the voter decide…kagaya ng anti-dynasty law, amyendahan at let the voter decide also. Hani nga Mang Rene?

    17. Why is it that if someone does not like what the laws says, many will make excuses and initiate to let the “people” decide? What is the law therefore, is it only which favor someone? Should this be the case, why should laws be made? Why not hold a plebiscite every time a question of law comes up and let the public decide. By doing this, we will no longer deal with lawyer-liars like Atty. Rene Saguisag and all lawyers for that matter.

    18. Are you implying Sen. Saguisag not to subscribe to constitutions, ignore or just abandon it. This will be chaotic. If the law needs to be amended so be it, but never change the rule at the middle of the game. You ar a great lawyer and i hope you dont twist the rule, just for one Maria’s convenience. Nothing against Poe, but Phils should govern a rule of laws, not by man.

      • Leodegardo Pruna on

        Just too bad that as the two “SAGUISAG ng PANGANIBan” are just waiting for their time like me would take a position that will endanger the Philippine Consitution and trample on the basic law of the land which they were part in crafting. God bless the Philippines.