Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The people's choice

In a democracy, the governor rules only by the consent of the governed, the people.

The people, acting collectively, are the source of all political authorities and consent to delegate certain authority is given by them during election. Hence, when an election is generally perceived as not free, fair and honest, the consent is tainted.

A tainted consent vitiates the authority delegated, by way of the election, to the governor, so that unless the delegation is revalidated by some act or conduct that amounts to acquiescence on the part of the people, the taint will continue to attach to the authority of the governor and open to question the legitimacy of the rule. For a governor to rule with a tainted authority is to do so only under color of authority, not with true authority.

When once people power-averse vice president Arroyo had been swept to power, I was among those who argued very strongly for the legitimacy of her government so established via People Power, upon the following grounds:

1. People Power I was indistinguishable from People Power II; in both instances the people withdrew their consent through the exercise of the right of rebellion.

2. Rebellion is an ultimate political act of the people; it is borne out by its success, hence, any imprimatur given by any other agency including the Supreme Court on the new government installed by the rebellion is unnecessary, a surplusage.

3. Specifically, the withdrawal of support from the Estrada government was so widespread – i.e., from the two Houses of Congress and the Impeachment Court to the military establishment and a wide range of civil society groups - it was impossible for Estrada to continue to govern under his “ousted” regime; withdrawal of the people’s consent proceeded from it.

4. The international community immediately recognized the Arroyo government as the “successor” regime they would be willing to deal with.

In my view, the foregoing political and other relevant events acted upon each other and served as operative factors legitimizing the Arroyo regime with or without the contorted decision of the Supreme Court in Estrada v. Desierto (whereby Estrada was deemed by the Court to have left his office by “constructive resignation” paving the succession of Arroyo to the presidency).

I have also argued that the successful defense of the Republic by the Arroyo government during the EDSA Tres uprising, considered by many as Estrada’s attempt to recapture his office (only four months after Arroyo had assumed the presidency and about two weeks before the mid-term senatorial elections of May 2001 where the administration candidates won 8-5) co-opted the outcome of the elections as the political coups de grace in ultimately completing the legitimation of her administration. The whole world was then assured the Arroyo government could withstand a rebellion and criminal conspiracy of a dimension not seen even during Marcos.

The reasons I gave why Arroyo had easily thwarted the uprising were: “Firstly, the insurrection has been real and has not been stage-managed by her or her close allies in order to perpetuate themselves in power. Secondly, the Philippine military and the PNP have just been through a recent examination of conscience during People Power II that had put to an acid test the true attributes of their professionalism. Finally (and this is something transcendental and therefore, extra-constitutional), Mother Mary, whose shrine had been desecrated by the rebels, sided with GMA.”

Why should I now think the legitimacy of the Arroyo government is imperiled today? Two things: 1) The “Garci tapes” controversy constitutes a strong prima facie presumption of illegitimacy; and 2) The presumption, not being thoroughly refuted in any forum, remains.

The presumption standing, the people’s consent for Arroyo to continue ruling is tainted.

What is obviously undeniable is that the existence of the Garci tapes strikes at the essence of an election, a betrayal of public trust that cannot possibly be let off or forgiven by the mere convenience of admitting to a “lapse in judgment.” The burden of going forward, that is, to show that those tapes are bogus, adulterated or non-existent is thereupon on the lapse of Arroyo. It is a burden that cannot be dodged or wished away simply because Arroyo’s supporters in the House have voted on procedural grounds not to allow a full-dress impeachment hearing on the matter. On the contrary, this whole conduct of Arroyo’s congressional allies has only reinforced the general perception that the people’s consent was thwarted, the election not having been free, fair and honest in the first place. In view of this, Arroyo today is governing only under color of authority or, at the most, apparent authority but not with true authority.

If Arroyo continues to hang on to rule with a tainted authority without the benefit of public acquiescence even as a large segment of the polity continues to agitate for reasonable elucidation or raise more questions about the “Garci tapes” scandal, then the people shall have the right to authenticate their consent in a new election, through the un-election process called impeachment or by the exercise of the right of rebellion - at the people’s discretion.

6 Comments:

Blogger Rizalist said...

Destabilizer!

March 18, 2006 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Shaman of Malilipot said...

GMA is the greatest destabilizer. She destabilized our democratic structure when she cheated inthe 2004 elections. And Rizalist is her co-destabilizer for condoning the evil deed.

March 21, 2006 5:34 AM  
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