The wisdom of divided government

10

Even the Holy Bible counsels it and sings its virtues.

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At a time when our president seeks to erase every wall of separation between the three branches of government, and make the executive indisputably supreme; when Congress doesn’t appear to mind being raped by the president; and when only the Supreme Court is keen on standing in his way, it is fitting that we trace the trinity of powers to its origins, in order to grasp its wisdom and to guard against its derogation in our society.

I got the biblical reference from the neurologist-author Benjamin Carson, who recently wrote in the Washington Times, that the concept of separation of powers did not begin with the Founding Fathers of the American Republic.

Carson opines that the concept seems to have emanated from the Book of Isaiah, 33:22, which states, “The Lord is our judge (judicial branch), the Lord is our lawgiver (legislative branch), the Lord is our King (executive branch).”

But it was Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755), who carried the idea forward in his writings on political theories, and bequeathed it as a legacy to the modern state. In his best-known work, The Spirit of Laws, he argues eloquently for the separation of powers.

The Baron is acknowledged as the great promulgator of this doctrine, which teaches that the assurance of law is to be found in the separate embodiment of the various functions connected with the law.

In his own simple terms, “from the very nature of things power should be a check to power, if liberty—or law itself —is to endure.”

Montesquieu went much farther than Aristotle. The trinity of powers, as conceived by him —legislative, executive and judicial—ought to be separately embodied and exercised by different men or groups.

In Dr. Carson’s retelling, “when Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in 1831 to perform an in-depth analysis of American democracy, he was impressed with its well-structured divided government and its separation of powers…

“Certainly this system of government has worked well for us in the past, helping to establish the United States as the most powerful nation the world has ever known within a relatively short period of time.

“In order for a divided government to work, each branch must respect the other two branches. There always have been and always will be squabbles between the branches, but the big problem in the US today [under Obama]is that the executive branch has decided to ignore anyone with whom it disagrees, including Congress.”

In much the same way that President Aquino seeks to redefine the meaning of “savings” and ‘judicial review” in the Philippines, Obama has redefined the word “recess” in order to appoint individuals who might have a difficult time obtaining congressional approval.

Carson comments: “The Obama administration seems to have a penchant for redefining words to make them conform to its ideology. Obviously, if an individual can redefine anything anytime he wants to, he can manipulate virtually any situation into a favorable position for himself. If he is clever and no one notices, he can fundamentally change the foundational fabric of a society.”

The difference between the American and Filipino experience, is that here in Manila the president is complaining of “judicial overreach,” whereas it is Aquino who is really encroaching on the powers of the legislature and the judiciary. Americans see only Obama’s usurpation of the powers of Congress.

Congress raped with consent
What is alarming in our case, to quote Joker Arroyo, is that the Philippine Congress is being raped with consent by Aquino. And congressmen and senators are asking for more.

So great is the people’s outrage over this state of affairs, that public protest has lately mutated from the impeachment of Aquino to the abolition of Congress.

The general assumption is that it is the rapist who must change his ways. But now most Filipinos believe the rape victim should at least say “NO.”

Congress, under Drilon and Belmonte, has taken our democracy to the edge. According to R.M. McGiver in his classic, the Modern State (OxFord, 1966), “It is characteristic of oligarchy that the executive authority dominates the legislative, just as the contrary relationship is a principle of democracy.”

We have wandered away from democracy to oligarchy in just four years of Aquino. And he was not even elected with a majority in either the House or the Senate. Senators and congressmen just lined up to be violated.

Separation of powers is explicitly stated in the US constitution. It was also proclaimed as part of the very meaning of the state by the French revolutionary assembly, when it laid down the dogma that “every society in which the separation of powers is not determined has no constitution.”

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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10 Comments

  1. First, the rape was consummated with Congress’ consent. It was done in such a way as make it look a “real” rape act but in actuality the rape victim is acting more than a willing victim, for his own largesse benefit. Then, the rape victim was invigorated by the actual rape, so the whoring now took over from the previous a mere passive and willing victim…from whoring, to the unimaginable SODOMY is now in full swing….the Two parties in these abominable act, – Congress bend over and voila! Ang Matuwid na Baluktot, pasok sa sa Pa Tuwad na Daan…..

  2. congress is nothing but an institution that was and will always be willing to be prostituted to the executive branch that is headed by Pnoy by nobody else than the house speaker himself being the biggest pimp of it all. it will never cry foul however many times it is prostituted so long as pork is paid in return to whoever consents. we, in this country forbid prostitution yet, the lawmakers themselves are the biggest prostitutes being paid by their biggest customers, the executive branch, with taxpayers money.

  3. “Carson opines that the concept seems to have emanated from the Book of Isaiah, 33:22, which states, “The Lord is our judge (judicial branch), the Lord is our lawgiver (legislative branch), the Lord is our King (executive branch).”

    Well, this must be the same passage where PNoy got the idea that he is supreme, from the other branches. Because he is the “Lord”.

  4. It is clear that this government does not work for the people or for the benefit of the country. It only works for self interest and staying in power. Aquino kept increasing the pork until almost everyone accepted the bribes. We need an honest budget and get the hands out of the pork barrel. The problem is that this budget and then next year’s budget cannot remove the lump sum pork barrel items. We have the corrupted ones making the budget and then approving it. The minority do not have enough power to cleanse the budget. Next election the people will get rid of these corrupted souls.

  5. “Congress raped with consent”
    I am not a lawyer but the phrase “raped with consent” sounds like an oxymoron. If there is consent how can it be rape? Is it legally supported, or grammatically correct, or even logically possible that rape and consent are in the same phrase/sentence.

  6. congress, both houses, made history during aquino’s regime. it will be remembered in our history as the distinct congress that delightfully enjoyed being raped by aquino. of course previous congresses too were bastardized by the executive since its rebirth in cory’s time. but never was there a time when the rape victim was so lustily defending the rapist than now. i can almost hear the scream ‘SIGE PA’! BOTH HOUSES have lost its bearing!…but even the most unprintable words lost its meaning in their mad rush for cash!