This is my copy of the Constitution; it’s a compilation; it contains not just the consti, but laws and subjects under consti law like: election law, local government code, admin law, etc. etc.
Maybe it was just a coincidence that as i glanced sideways from where i was seated today, i noticed something very yellow. I never saw it before (“never saw” means never noticed; never realized it was yellow. i wasn’t a very visual person before; i only became somewhat visual recently, go figure.)
The book shelf here has a sliding, glass cover so you could see the titles inside. There it was, very yellow; gleaming, it happened to have been flung horizontally, instead of tucked vertically. Here it is.
Our then consti law professor, VV (Justice V.V. Mendoza) said “You buy the wide one, the wide copy of the Constitution, it has a matrix that compares the Malolos consti, the 1935 consti, the 1973 consti, and the present Constitution, it’s published by National Bookstore. Plus, it’s easy to read, the letters are big. Well, you can buy others, the small ones if you want.”
Among the features of the ’87 Consti are: an emphatic, if not redundant Bill of Rights.
Like the free-speech clause; as everybody knows, “speech” in the “free-speech” clause in constitutional law jurisprudence includes all kinds and all forms of expression; yet, in the free-speech clause of the ’87 conti, the phrase “of expression” was added (a Lino Brocka amendment): “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press..” Just to make sure everybody understands the scope of free speech and that censorship is presumed unconstitutional.
Or, as everybody knows, the right to remain silent includes in constitutional law jurisprudence the right not to be forced to sign any statement or give any statement or to talk, by being roughed up, or by being electrocuted or by water-boarding, etc.; yet in the ’87 Consti, immediately after the right- to- remain silent provision, this was added: “No torture, force, violence, threat, or intimidation….shall be used” etc.. Just for emphasis. Just to make sure it is clear.
I like emphatic, never mind if it’s redundant, let’s keep it that way if only to make clear our intent and our will not to allow a dictatorship to rule the land again.
I’m doing this randomly. I’m sure there are other features. There is an anti-foreign military bases, troops, or facilities provision: “After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement (on)…Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed except under a treaty….recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.” The present Visiting Forces Agreement is not recognized as a treaty by the U.S. and therefore does not conform with the ’87 Consti.
Also, under the ’87 Consti, you only need a majority vote in the Supreme Court to strike down a law as unconstitutional (in the ’73 consti, you needed 2/3 of the Supreme Court.) Some older lawyers who did not study under the present consti still get confused sometimes and think it’s 2/3.
And of course, there’s an airtight provision that prevents the abuse of the Commander-in-Chief power of declaring martial law, by requiring that: 1) should martial law be declared, within 48 hours the President should report to Congress; Congress can revoke it. 2) Congress if not in session, shall convene within 24 hours; 3) the Supreme Court can exercise judicial review over it; 4) the Constitution cannon be suspended; 5) courts cannot be shut down; 6) legislature cannot be shut down; 7) military courts shall not exercise jurisdiction over civilians; 8) any person arrested shall still be charged within three days otherwise, he/she shall be released; and in any case such arrested person can apply for bail or for a writ of habeas corpus; 9) and in all cases, martial law cannot be for more than 60 days.
What this Constitution did was to, as it were, “distribute” the exercise of this particular Commander-in-Chief power among the different branches of government by allowing, even requiring, the other branches to review it, and revoke it if necessary ; and by putting a time cap of two months on it.
The new government that rose from the collective struggle of the people that dismantled the dictatorship changed the legal landscape of our life.
Many of the cases that we are able to file now, many of the rights that we fight for now, many of the institutions that we try to safeguard now or watch over, were made possible by that then new government.
Sure, much more could have been done: a genuine agrarian reform program; justice for the tens of thousands of victims of martial law. The majority plodding and dying in sub-human conditions of poverty, hunger, and disease, remain mired through more than twenty years of the same.
My train of thought is being disrupted whenever i see the trapos (traditional politicians ) tonight come out and say “Ituloy ang laban ni Cory sa 2010” (“Carry forward the fight of Cory through 2010), you wonder. 2010? They’re thinking of themselves again. (nangampanya.)
Politicians have a way of inserting themselves in the scenery, striding in with their entire entourage and their publiscists, when you’re reflecting on what had been and what should be, to guide your future action — as i leaf through my old, yellow copy of the Consti; did you know it was as big and wide as a coloring, tracing, connect-the-dots book?
As you can see, i didn’t finish this post, cannot seem to finish a post again, much was done when the dictatorship and its vestiges were dismantled; much more could still be done.