Will the Justices swear on the lives of their children?


Comparative analysis
I had a most enjoyable meeting with a visiting American election analyst last week, but we could not quite agree which of our two countries had the better chance of surviving their current political crisis. In the United States, the Democratic and Republican parties are trying to pick their respective presidential nominees for the November elections. Here, we are trying to see what would allow us to hold a clean, honest and credible presidential election on May 9, and choose the least undesirable candidate. The chances are dismal for both, but our situation is probably worse than that of the US.

In the US, the billionaire Donald Trump, who is leading the race for the Republican Party nomination, has scandalized both liberals and conservatives by waging a take-no-prisoners war on “political correctness.” He wants to build a $4-billion wall to keep illegal Mexican immigrants from entering the United States and ban all Muslim visitors and immigrants; and now, he wants to penalize women who would contract abortion, if the abortion law were repealed. Hillary Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination, and many other Americans believe abortion is an inviolable human right, so the condemnation was viral and instant.

Trump’s insults
Trump spontaneously insults anyone he likes, and while he never fails to get a fitting response, a large part of the American audience is entertained by his insults. The media gobbles up everything he says, so while his rivals have to pay for media ads, he does not have to buy any; he gets a free ride. Republican Sen. John McCain and former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, two former presidential nominees, have called him “unfit” to be their presidential nominee; and he has blasted them both, calling Romney a “total lightweight,” and McCain a “war hero,” only because he was captured, but “I like people who were not captured.”

He has called Hillary Clinton “the worst Secretary of State of the United States.” In one tweet, he said, “Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband. What makes her think she can satisfy America?” He quickly disowned this tweet, blaming it on his staff, and had it deleted. On Clinton’s Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, the hitherto unknown socialist who has put up a surprisingly strong showing, Trump said the man knew what’s wrong with America, but could not do anything about it, whereas he could. “He can’t negotiate with China,” he said.

Trump has insulted some of the better known Conservative and other publications and pundits, like Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, George Will of the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer of Fox News, Des Moines Register, Forbes magazine, and Arianna Huffington’s online Huffington Post. In one CNN interview, he told Anderson Cooper, “the people don’t trust you and the people don’t trust the media.”

A train wreck
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump’s closest rival, likens the prospect of a Trump Republican nomination to a “train wreck;” it could destroy the Republican Party in the election, and the US itself, should Trump ever get elected. Because of their disdain for Trump, many Conservative analysts think Hillary Clinton, if she finally clinches the Democratic Party nomination, could become the first woman President of the United States. Many Americans do not like Clinton, but many more, including Republicans, are simply frightened of the possibility of Trump becoming the President.

Historical quirks
Despite this, many feel Trump could yet overcome Clinton, if he finally gets the Republican Party nomination, if only for historical reasons. Rarely has the Democratic or Republican Party been able to hold on to power for three consecutive terms. Under Barack Obama, the Democrats have been in power for two terms. So power should change hands in this election.

In 1836, the Democratic Vice President Martin Van Buren succeeded President Andrew Jackson after two terms; in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, succeeded himself for an unprecedented third term. But four times in five attempts the Democrats had failed to win a third consecutive term. These included Ohio Gov. James Cox, who had wanted to succeed Woodrow Wilson after two terms, in 1921; Adlai Stevenson, who had wanted to succeed Harry Truman, President since 1945, in 1953; Hubert Humphrey, who had wanted to succeed John Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson, whose combined presidencies ran from 1961 to 1969; and Al Gore, who had wanted to succeed Bill Clinton in 2001.

The Republicans had been a little more successful in that respect. In 1868, Ulysses S. Grant succeeded Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, whose presidencies ran from 1861 to 1869; Rutherford Hayes succeeded Grant in 1877; in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt succeeded William McKinley and went on to serve until 1909; in 1989, George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan at the end of his two terms. But in 1960, Richard Nixon failed to succeed Dwight Eisenhower at the end of his second term; in 1976, Gerald Ford failed to win a term of his own, after serving the unexpired portion of Nixon’s second term; in 2009, McCain failed to succeed George Walker Bush at the end of his second term.

The New Constantine?
Despite the derision heaped upon Trump by political pundits for his colorful language and uncouth behavior, he has managed to maintain his appeal among many American voters, and some outsiders. At least a couple of academics have offered an alternative perspective that tries to rationalize, even glamorize, Trump’s behavior. Blaise Joseph, an assistant dean at Warrane College in the University of South Wales, in an article appearing on Mercatornet, asks the question, “Is Trump the New Constantine?”

At a time when Christians can no longer freely express themselves on the great moral issues of the day without being shouted down by the pillars of “political correctness,” Trump reminds the author of Constantine, who despite his many excesses and character defects found himself fighting the pagan horde under the sign of the Cross (In hoc signo vinces), proclaiming himself the Christian emperor, and ending the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperors through the Edict of Milan, 313 AD.

In another article in “Public Discourse,” entitled, “What Trump and Sanders Teach Us About America,” Adam Seagrave, an assistant professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, examines the two political outsiders as “twin harbingers of a possible American Apocalypse – signs of the beginning of the end for the American tradition and way of life.” To Seagrave, the “American mind” now lies in the gutter, and can no longer lift itself up to embrace principles that transcend our mere animality. Trump and Sanders are but taking advantage of this fact, says the article.

The Phl scenario
What’s happening to America will still take a few months to fully unravel. But what will happen to the Philippines can be safely and accurately surmised even now. Grave injuries and injustices have been inflicted upon our constitutional and political system during this run-up to the May 9 elections; unless urgent measures are taken to correct these, the country could implode even as some highly inebriated partisans celebrate their “victory” in the polls.

The constitutional wreck
Only the Constitution can fully guarantee the final integrity of the election. But we have already destroyed our Constitution. By proclaiming the false dogma that foundlings are natural-born citizens, on the basis of statistical probability and disputable presumption, some temporarily deranged Justices simultaneously airbrushed the constitutional prohibition on non-natural born citizens running for President, and, in a grave abuse of discretion, declared Mary Grace Poe Lamanzares “qualified” to run for President, even though her first and last known citizenship is that of a naturalized American, who doesn’t even know her real parents.

Supported by powerful corporate, casino and media personalities, who are openly bankrolling her campaign, and with rumors planted by her own camp that she is both Malacanang’s and Washington’s “not-so-secret” candidate, Mrs. Llamanzares has utilized every available propaganda resource to make it appear that people are prepared to vote for her despite her unresolved citizenship and residency status before the Supreme Court, which has provoked trenchant commentaries from the legal profession and the critical sector of the independent press.

Public bombardment
The public is bombarded with alleged surveys with unbelievable frequency and even more unbelievable results in favor of Mrs. Llamanzares and her running mate, without any public disclosure of how much they are paying for all these instruments of deceit. Aside from the endorsement of Manila Mayor Erap Estrada, who had helped facilitate Mary Grace’s adoption by the Fernando Poe-Susan Roces couple in San Juan, Rizal in 1974, and who is now fighting for his family’s political survival in Manila and San Juan, we do not hear of big political blocs or leaders expressing support for Mrs. Llamanzares. We read only of the “results” of alleged surveys.

We are expected to swallow these surveys hook, line and sinker, without being told, who paid for the survey, who conducted it, what questions were asked, in what manner and sequence were the questions asked, how many individuals (samples) were asked, how were the samples chosen, what was the margin of error used? The obvious purpose is to create an impression of popular support for Mrs. Llamanzares, regardless of whether she is constitutionally qualified to run or not. She wants everyone to know that “the people want her,” so all constitutional and legal objections are now moot and academic.

Playing the Justices
She apparently wants to prevent the SC Justices from correcting their abominable ruling on her disqualification case, and encourage them instead to simply ratify the propaganda fraudsters’ reading of the “public pulse.” Last weekend, she raised the stakes higher by leaking to the media a supposedly private meeting she had at the Iglesia ni Cristo Central HQ. This was obviously meant to spur speculation that the INC is now considering her.

She has tried to play the same game with Catholics, except that there have been no takers. In Cebu and in La Union, she recently visited the church, ostensibly to pray, but followed by a swarm of photographers. She was then photographed kneeling on a pew, surrounded by photographers. The photos are now on display in the social media, but some young Catholics who referred them to me found them “hypocritical” and “disgusting.”

Worse than Stonehill
However, none of these posturings define the real danger. The real danger comes from the lack of any effort on her part and the part of her funders to avoid making a scandal of their political cabal in the making. It now appears she is in the race, and has won the support of some Justices, because of these arrangements. This is without precedent.

In the past, it was only after Harry Stonehill succeeded in corrupting almost every important politician in office that he could say he “owned” the government. But Stonehill merely latched on to an already functioning government. In the present case, Mrs. Llamanzares seems to be already “wholly-owned” by her mega funders, even before she is reaffirmed as a bona fide candidate by the Supreme Court (if at all), and presides over the government. This kind of treason is unprecedented.

Will they swear?
Now, she apparently hopes to rise upon the wreckage of the Constitution, the rule of law and jurisprudence. What crimes have we committed to deserve this malediction? What exactly do we owe her? Since the SC ruling on her disqualification, which the Justices will now review in Baguio, ultimately involves the life and death of the nation, will they now please have the courage to rule on it like it was the last case they will ever rule upon before they meet their Maker? Will they have the courage to assume all the consequences of their acts, and swear on the lives of their children’s children that their vote on it is in full accord with their true consciences?

fstatad@gmail. com


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  1. Knowingly members of the SUPREME COURT are cream of best lawyers of the country not appointed to the position as interpreter of the CONSTITUTION or law of country under doubt on the people who have made the decision. Other countries are watching how our JUDICIAL system being ……. so let these JUSTICES be more extra careful on making their DECISIONS…..we had a chief justice got impeached and hope we do not another one to come up…

  2. If these 9 SC Justices still insist on their decision I think we as a Sovereign should act and make a move. I think there a very clear in Our Constitution the Sovereign People can organize together with military to protect, uphold and defend Our Constitution. Im calling the attention of the ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES make a move to take necessary action to protect and defend Our Constitution. We must unite and protect Our Beloved Love. IBP calling your attention and make move so that we can protect and defend Our Constitution.

  3. Finally, the Supreme Court justices are now going to tackle the Motions for Reconsideration filed by COMELEC and the four petitioners. I suppose their delaying tactics have become so obvious that they were finally shamed into doing something to prevent further criticisms from the public who are getting more and more restless.

    The decision of the SC has several deficiencies. One deficiency that I found to be bizarre and weird is that some of the Justices used, among other things, “statistics and probability” to decide on the question of Mrs. Grace Poe-Llamanzares “natural-born Filipino citizenship”. In Western countries such as Canada, the USA, Australia, et al, statistical analyses are used and applied in legal cases to overturn or void an invalid, illegal or unconstitutional state or federal law on grounds of discrimination based on sex, religion, age, etc. For example, a law in the state of Arizona which mandated that male teenagers should pay more for car insurance than female teenage drivers was challenged, found to be discriminatory, and illegal and thus, taken off the books. In the case of Mrs. Poe-Llamanzares, those justices who bought into the pleadings and representations of the “tribune of the people” Sol-Gen Hilbay effectively decided that the Citizenship provision of the 1935 Constitution (Article lV, Section 1) is “discriminatory” towards “foundlings”. Yet Hilbay did not suggest, and there is no order or proclamation from the Supreme Court for the provision to be taken off the Constitution. So what is the point of bringing up and using statistical analyses except to ensure that the favored candidate is allowed to run? The decision is a misuse of statistical analyses for legal purposes and is symptomatic of the justices’ lack of knowledge of the appropriate use of statistics in court cases and proceedings.

    It should be noted that a Motion for Reconsideration can be filed a second time if the SC insists on their biased and slanted decision. In the meantime, if the elections are held while the petitions are still pending, and Mrs. Llamanzares wins, a temporary restraining order or injunction to stop her proclamation should be filed immediately to negate and thwart CJ M. L. Sereno and her cohorts’ plan to render any future SC decision “moot and academic”.

    It should be noted that a Motion for Reconsideration can be filed a second time if the SC insists on their biased and slanted decision. If the meantime, if the elections are held while the petitions are still pending, and Mrs. Llamanzares wins, a temporary restraining order or injunction to stop her proclamation should be filed immediately to negate and thwart CJ M. L. Sereno and her cohorts plan to render any future SC decision “moot and academic”.

  4. These justices who favored Poe made their own ghosts that will haunt them until they themselves become ghosts.

  5. Well, I have to repost my comment which seemed to have been deleted by the moderator.

    What those lawyer- petitioners should have filed upon reading that there was never a majority decision was to pray to the Supreme Court to enjoin the Comelec to enforce its disqualification ruling. Since there was no majority decision, it stands to reason that there was no verdict. Hence, the Comelec resolution stands. Lulu must be laughing her heart out inside since the media interpreted the Sereno Court Decision which the Comelec and the general public believed hook, line and sinker. It just seems funny that it is now the media which is the interpreter of Sereno Court resolutions. What the Comelec should do now is to issue a Cease and Desist Order to bar Ms. Grace from campaigning and prevent her from joining the next zarzuela euphemistically called “debate” to make the people know that she is not a candidate. The Comelec can call the military to enforce its disqualification order. Now, it is a matter of brinkmanship. Surely, she will run to the SC for a TRO against the CDO so the battle will now be centered on the TRO. Those lawyer-petitioners don’t know court tactics?

  6. I like Grace Poe but I agree with you Mr. Tatad. I think Filipinos should vote for a better and more qualified candidate who will adhere to the rule of law and the Philippine constitution. Thanks for the eye opener.

  7. non-lawyer bum on

    The Supreme Court Justices are supposed to be the finest people in Legal Profession. However, these justices are human beings like the rest of us, make mistakes, whether we like it or not, and their votes can be bought, if the price is right. An example, the way they decide on the case of Sen. Grace Poe, based on probability and statistics. The lowly educated bums like myself knows that STATISTICS and PROBABILITIES are ideas suggested or presented as possibly true but that is NOT known or proven to be true.

    The Justices voted for Sen. Grace Poe understand that statistics and probabilities should not have been used as the basis of their decisions. However, MONEY was more important element than integrity.

  8. Since there was never a majority decision, what Kit el al should do is file a prayer for the Supreme Court to enjoin the Comelec to enforce its decision of disqualificaiton. Since there was no majority decision, the Comelec disqualification stands. So what is the Comelec waiting for? The Supreme Court never ruled so what was shouted was just a statement from the Sereno Court which is distinct from the Supreme Court. Or Kit’s lawyers are so myopic not to see the difference? The lawyers are never good in negotiation? Surely, Lulu should be laughing on the inside because it is the interpretation of the media that is being taken by the Comelec and the general public as the ruling of the Supreme Court when there was never a ruling at all. This is now a matter of brinkmanship – a poker game where the Comelec has all the laws on its side. The Comelec should call the military to enforce its disqualification decision, plain and simple.

  9. Amnata Pundit on

    Isn’t it possible that to the minds of the justices who went for Grace Poe, the bigger danger is the possibility that Binay will become president if Grace is disqualified? Perhaps to them it should be ANYBODY BUT BINAY, and if that is the case, can we blame them?

  10. Conscience? What conscience? Do these Justices even have any? Clearly, they have sold their souls to the devil when they ruled in favor of the American foundling who is a fraud, a cheat, and a liar. They have destroyed the constitution they have sworn to protect. They have prostituted themselves to the corrupt oligarchs of this country.

    What is left of our country? What happened to the blood of the Maharlikas? Has the country been truly bastardized by the colonial powers that once ruled our beloved country for centuries? Or our intellects and proud social norms disintegrating by the ravage of drugs proliferating in this beloved country of ours? My heart truly laments our present state of affairs.

    But I am still dreaming of a new day dawning when I can sing again the song I was taught in grade school:

    “Philippines our native land, the country of the brave
    Pearl of all the orient seas, the home of men upright
    We are ready all the time to work for peace and right.
    Philippines, dear Philippines for freedom all of us will fight.
    So wake up, all wake up, fight for the right!
    Freedom! For freedom! All must fight…”

  11. Jose A. Oliveros on

    “Will they have the courage to assume all the consequences of their acts, and swear on the lives of their children’s children that their vote on it is in full accord with their true consciences?” This sentence assumes that the 9 or 7 Justices who declared that Grace Poe-Llamanzares is a “natural-born Filipino citizen” and has satisfied the 10-year residency requirement have consciences. But do they?

  12. I hope the nagging question on the ruling on the disqualification of Poe-Llamanzares will not turn to a nagging legal question which will haunt the SC. Lest, it might result in the erosion of the faith in the highest court of the land which is suppose to be the last bastion of freedom and democracy in the country. Some politicians might not be taking it seriously, but it is a SORE subject to think of by apolitical lawyers and legal pundits.

    I think there is more DANGER if the same ruling is not ‘corrected’ than if it remains as is. Such mistake is critical to the existence of the republic. I pray that the same be amended to reflect the legal intent of the law and NOT the intent of unscrupulous powers that be and politicians to suit their political agenda.

    May God save the Republic of the Philippines.

    • Only a few cares about this republic. The squatters, informal settlers, politicians, big businessmen, the rich, the rich-wannabe middle class with large salaries, these people, they don’t care about this republic. The squatters/informal settlers only care about what they will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the politicians about their kickbacks & comissions, the big businessmen care only about their profit, the rich about their income and the rich-wannabes middle class particularly those working in large multinational companies, these show-offs only care about what car, condo unit, gadget or cellphone they will purchase next. What this country needs is a drastic cultural shake-up, a national upheaval that will teach these lunatics a lesson on loving, caring and defending their fellowmen and our institutions from abuse.

  13. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    03 April 2016

    Close obververs of political developments in the United States and the Philippines stand to benefit immensely from reading this column, “Will the justices swear on the lives of their children,” by Francisco S. Tatad, in the Manila Times of April 2d, 2016.

    It is a highly interesting and instructive rundown on the personae involved in the current political campaigns both in the United State and the Philippines–and how they are doing.

    No the justices of the Philippine Supreme Court who will be in Baguio to deliberate on a petition for it to reconsider its surprising it not highly anomalous or irregular ruling allowing GRACE POE LLAMANZARES to be a candidate for president, even though she was three-times disqualified by the COMELEC will probaby not swear on the lives of their children.”

    But I seriously suggest that the justices who went with the Majority Ruling of 9 seriously examine their conscience–which is to assume that they have any–and find out how they could have gone down with such a ruling without touching on the issue of whether or not she is a “natural-born citizen” of the Philippines, touching only on the issue of whether or not she is in compliance with the constitutional requirement of a 10-year residency, and arbitrarily ruling that she is indeed in compliance, when the Comelec ruled that she falsified her COC to make it appear that she is indeed in compliance.

    To add insult to injury, the Supreme Court unjustly accused the Comelec of committing an act of “grave abuse of discretion” by disqualifying Grace Poe Llamanzares, when the sordid fact is that it is this Supreme Court with this scandalous ruling that has committed “an act of grave abuse of discretion”–and may even be also guilty of “legislating from the bench.”


    • It was not the Supreme Court that ruled, it was the Sereno Court. Since there was no majority decision, it was never a Supreme Court ruling. Hence, I can not understand what is keeping the Comelec from removing Ms. Grace from the ballot or issuing a Cease and Desist Order for her to stop from further campaigning. What the Comelec should do is to call in the military to enforce its order. In fact, on the next “debate”, they should bar her from joining to signify to our people that she was never a candidate.

    • kale alaskador on

      I’m afraid those justices cannot change their vote. They can no longer return the money they received for a vote in favor of Poe!

      Kawawa naman ang Pilipinas!

    • Unfortunately, these SC justices do not have a conscience. Not one of then could come close to the late great Justice Scalia of the United States supreme court, or even our own great Jose Abad Santos. The only time a person can really decide with their conscience a life close to them including theirs, is at stake. If its only possible to have these justices deliberate and decide while a 20mm Orlekin anti-aircraft gun is pointed at them.

  14. The fragile Philippine Republic is in dire need of patriots to save it from the brink of total collapse. It is our fervent hope that the temporarily confused justices who are as bound to defend and enforce the Constitution as their brilliant counterparts in the Court, will undo what they have done.

  15. unfortunately, yes. they will swear on the lives of their children and also on the lives of their parents. but they will not assume the consequences of their acts. if they have the courage to do that then they will have the courage to do what is right in the first place.