Monday, March 31, 2008

Neri, a culpable violation of the Constituion

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Ateneo de Manila law dean and an authoritative Philippine Constitutional Law commentator, is simply diplomatic in stating that the implication of the majority decision in Neri v. Senate Committee would be to “revolutionize the doctrine on executive privilege.”

On the other hand, the Hon. Artemio Panganiban, the former Supreme Court Chief Justice, is almost apocalyptic in finding the Neri decision to have “unreasonably suppressed the truth” and warning the justices against choosing “to serve . . . President Arroyo” or otherwise earn the dishonorable tag as the “Arroyo Supreme Court.”

When push comes to shove however and what’s teetering on the precipice is the very foundation of our democratic institutions, ought not Filipinos of the stature of Bernas and Panganiban do more and call a spade a spade? The message would certainly be heard louder if what’s said in unison is: That the judicial misconduct by the majority in Neri amounts to “culpable violation of the Constitution” and therefore constitutes impeachable offense.

Why not?

Panagniban is unequivocal that the Neri majority has ignored the “constitutional mandate requiring transparency and accountability of officials” and instead invoked and applied foreign jurisprudence that’s “simply inapplicable” (the greater part of which, if I may add, is a decision of a U.S. court of appeals).

On the other hand, for Bernas “the ponencia (ruling) that the matter was covered by executive privilege” could mean no less than “to sublimate guesswork.” Indeed, Neri v. Senate Committee while may not be a doctrine as yet is a “paralyzing and stifling” decision, Bernas, the Court’s most wanted amicus curiae, evidently suggests further.

Won’t the Court fire a lower court judge for disregarding clear constitutional mandates or basing on guesswork a decision the effect of which is to “cripple efforts to battle official corruption” or to seek the truth about such corruption rending a nation already financially strapped? This time, what’s inside the envelope the “Negotiable Nine” have denied the public to know?

For such an assault on the Constitution and the very foundation of Philippine republicanism, a motion for reconsideration as the next course of action would be a copout for Congress. But initiating impeachment proceedings against the erring justices will afford an opportunity to let out the folly of the unfortunate decision they arrived at in the comfort of their secret chambers.

Or, at the very least, the Senate can call the Palace bluff or threat of a constitutional crisis that may result from all and any of its proceedings or activities including legislations being rendered null if traceable to the supposedly infirm Senate Rules.

And by the way, where are the “fast draw” impeachment competitors, Lozano and Pulido?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Neri v. Senate, a bad decision

[Neri v. Senate Committee] is really bad decision. It pays lip service to the doctrines laid down in Ermita and expands executive privilege to the detriment of legislative inquiry and right to public information. - by Prof. Edwin Lacierda (per mlq3)

In an earlier entry, I have submitted that the Supreme Court in Francisco, Jr. v. House of Representatives has practically crippled the impeachment process by adopting the Bernasian reading of “initiate” under Article XI, Section 3 of the Constitution in lieu of the interpretation of the House of Representatives, and taking up what it supposed as its “activist” role, declared such interpretation of a coordinate branch, contained in the House Impeachment Rules, unconstitutional. Under the impeachment gun then was Hilario Davide, Jr. and so the robed gang huddled together and quite expectedly hailed their Chief - at the expense of the Constitution. Francisco, I concluded, is therefore the father of Lozano and Pulido.

Now, Senate v. Ermita can also say, “Here, have a cigar, we have sired a son … in Neri v. Senate Committee.”

Because the father had misspoken, the son lost its way, and unabashedly acknowledged being befuddled. The majority in Neri conceded:
Senate v. Ermita ruled that the “the oversight function of Congress may be facilitated by compulsory process only to the extent that it is performed in pursuit of legislation.” It is conceded that it is difficult to draw the line between an inquiry in aid of legislation and an inquiry in the exercise of oversight function of Congress.
I had the chance here to analyze Senate v. Ermita in re Section 21 and Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution as follows.

The power of inquiry provided under Section 21 of Article VI is just one specific source of the totality of the congressional oversight authority [other sources include a) the power to reorganize the government bureaucracy, including the executive and judicial agencies, b) the power of taxation, c) the power of appropriation, d) the power of impeachment, e) the power of confirmation, f) the power to declare war, and g) the power to raise and support the armed forces]. In this case, the power of inquiry is employed as a tool to carry out the oversight function just as the subpoena and contempt powers are availed of as mechanisms ancillary to the same function. It is not therefore correct to suggest that the oversight power is of lesser consequence than the power of inquiry.

Section 22 of the same Article VI is one other source of the oversight authority of Congress. The Supreme Court in the Senate v. Ermita, adopting the characterization of then constitutional commissioner and chairman of the Legislative Committee Hilario Davide, calls Section 22 as the provision on “Question Hour”. Such interpretation is not mistaken except that this section, it should be noted, underscores more the interdependence of the two political branches of the government than their separation (hence, its rather non-obligatory or “discretionary” nature by contrast with Section 21). The same section acknowledges the privilege of the heads of the executive departments to appear, with the consent of the President, and be heard by Congress on matters pertaining to their departments (as, for example, in a request by a department head for enhanced powers or greater funding for his department).

In the overall scheme of the oversight function of Congress, Sections 21 and 22 of Article VI are not only complementary but, to borrow Davide’s words, “very, very essential” to each other.

In the light of the constitutional conception and overriding reach of congressional oversight, the Supreme Court lacks firm grounding in the following explanation it has provided in the said Senate v. Ermita case:
Sections 21 and 22, therefore, while closely related and complementary to each other, should not be considered as pertaining to the same power of Congress. One specifically relates to the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation, the aim of which is to elicit information that may be used for legislation, while the other pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit of Congress’ oversight function.

When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are implementing the statutes which it has issued, its right to such information is not as imperative as that of the President to whom, as Chief Executive, such department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In such instances, Section 22, in keeping with the separation of powers, states that Congress may only request their appearance.

Nonetheless, when the inquiry in which Congress requires their appearance is “in aid of legislation” under Section 21, the appearance is mandatory for the same reasons stated in Arnault.
Policymaking on the part of Congress is well-nigh plenary. It is then axiomatic that the presumption of acting responsibly and constitutionally is strongly in its committees’ favor precisely because of the equivalent breadth of the oversight function in the policymaking process. This function preponderates over against the possible invocation of the so-called “executive privilege” - one that has yet to find expression in the explicit language of the Constitution.

Very clearly, executive privilege can only be invoked by way of exception. So when the executive officials fail to show that the privilege is “of such high degree as to outweigh the public interest,” as Senate v. Ermita ruling describes it, in the disclosure of the supposedly privileged information, congressional oversight, as a general rule, will trump an appeal to the supposed privilege. In that event, contumacious defiance and refusal to disclose the information sought or needed by Congress for legislative purposes renders the withholding official liable to its contempt process and the attendant punitive measures. Indeed, Congress, acting through its committees, need not rely upon the all-too-measured judicial pace to exercise the ultimate power of oversight and thereupon employ the necessary enforcement tools.

I did mock the Senate then when it dashed to the SC like a cry baby complaining about EC 424, this way:
Now, given that “in republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates” (James Madison, Federalist No. 51), one wonders why the congressional committees easily backed off (unless of course the committee members have been clueless what’s in their wallet) when President Arroyo upon a claim of executive privilege issued Executive Order 424 and the Senate itself immediately repaired to the Supreme Court to complain as if its subpoena and contempt powers were suddenly whisked away by the order like candy bars snatched by a “schoolyard bully.”
This time the bully is in the Court’s yard. For the majority in Neri, while pretending to sing paean to “the fundamental constitutional principles which underlie our tripartite system of government,” has ultimately decided, invoking the Court’s so-called expanded certiorari jurisdiction under Section 1), Article VIII of the Constitution, to clip not just one particular checks-and-balances mechanism expressly committed by the Constitution to a co-equal branch but also effectively encroach into the very core of the power of Congress, the power to make laws.

Needless to state, when the Court proceeds to nullify an act of a co-equal branch, especially the most representative of the three branches, it should only do so when the unconstitutionality (or grave abuse of discretion) is shown to be so manifest as to leave no room for reasonable doubt because even a court of last resort must also confess the limits of its own powers. Therefore, whenever an act of Congress is rational it must be presumed to be regular and constitutional and the Court must respect the great range of legislative power or discretion whether in legislating or interpreting the constitution by leaving it unperturbed in the absence of moral certainty as to its infirmity. In like fashion, Congress should not by law interfere in the way the Court arrives at its decisions or in the deliberation over its cases, or in the manner the Commander-in-chief for instance prosecutes a war against an enemy because one power or the other does not belong to it but to a co-equal branch.

By force of this logic, there was no reason for the Court in Neri to unnecessarily try to import its own judgment at the very inception of legislative process or of initiating remedial legislation and waste its own time, when it could have easily conceded that on the hand the President is entitled to executive privilege (to withhold information requested by other branches of the government) by established constitutional doctrine and that on the other the Senate or its committees by express provision of the Constitution have the power of inquiry in aid of lawmaking (which includes the power to probe into government agencies to expose corruption).

Considering however that Mr. Neri himself, without seasonably invoking the supposed lack of proper publication of the Senate Rules, already testified under oath before the joint Senate committees that he had been offered a “bribe” of 200 million pesos (“Chairman Abalos offered me 200 million for this,” Mr. Neri has testified) involving the incurring of a foreign loan, it would have been logical to look in the Constitution for express exception or limitation not to the congressional power of inquiry but to the invocation of executive privilege. Section 21, Article XII (National Economy and Patrimony) provides such express limitation to the executive privilege of non-disclosure where it states: “Sec. 21. Foreign loans may only be incurred in accordance with law and the regulation of the monetary authority. Information on foreign loans obtained or guaranteed by the Government shall be made available to the public.” (Italics mine.) Perforce executive privilege must give way to such a categorical mandate of disclosure in the plain language of the Constitution.

Dismissing forthright the petition of Mr. Neri would have been the simple end of the matter since neither the President nor the Supreme Court is above the Constitution.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Jesus and People Power

In Why People Power III is taking its time, I’ve wrapped up with a reminder that “Ecclesiastics and the laity alike must not fail to remember that the continuing appeal of Christianity as a powerful religious upheaval and of People Power is due to the historical reality that both have given hope to the many who were once powerless.”

On the other hand, Manolo Quezon’s pointed entry on Roman Catholicism vis-à-vis charges of possible abuse of pastoral authority by certain bishops in the Philippines (prompting NBN/ZTE deal star witness Jun Lozada to call the Archdiocese of Cebu as the “Archdiocese of Malacañang”) has come to highlight the historicity of the Church hierarchy and papal primacy:
Catholicism is a hierarchical religion, and administratively, organized under imperial Roman lines, one of the Pope’s titles being that of Supreme Pontiff (Pontifex Maximus), one of the titles of the emperors of Rome; archbishops and bishops rule of over dioceses, a term borrowed from the administrative setup of the Roman empire. Spiritually, it is organized on both a hierarchical and collegial lines, as bishops are successors of the Apostles, of whom the first among equals was Peter:

“And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock will my church be based, and the doors of hell will not overcome it.”

As a religion that happens to have a government, the governing power of Catholicism is exercised by the Pope in a political sense (as sovereign of the Vatican City state), and in a spiritual sense, by the Pope together with the bishops. In matters of faith and morals, the Pope is infallible when proclaiming dogma: for example, Pius XII’s proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin as dogma; infallibility is also granted the hierarchy of the Church when they gather in Ecumenical Council for the same purpose, for example, most recently, Vatican II.
But there was of course a period of decadence in ecclesiastical hierarchy and authority when bishops, even popes, were drawn into royal service or forced to an interweaving of ecclesiastical and royal authority, or when the Church in fact saw its division into dioceses and individual parishes well-nigh lapsing into popular Christianity.

More recently, there have been profound changes initiated by progressive leaders of the Roman Catholic Church weighing down on the scaffold of the Church’s culture of hierarchy that the Philippine Church (and other Catholic conservatives) might have failed to catch on.

For example, the idea of workers empowerment has been attributed to an Englishman named Eric Trist, considered to be the “evangelist for participative management.” Challenging the conventional wisdom about the imperative for “autocracy” in business concerns, Trist suggested that giving workers complete responsibility for an entire operation could lead to job performance that is more productive. It was also a challenge directed to “scientific management” which Henry Ford perfected in the U.S. automobile factories. The concept of empowered work team, however took root in the U.S. only in the 70s and 80s, and only after the Second Vatican Council had begun preparation in 1959, the most important achievement of which could be the empowerment of the laity and the parallel cutback in the power of the clergy and maybe the magisterium itself.

At the Second Vatican Council, among the progressive documents enacted by the fathers is the “Dogmatic Constitution of the Church” (Lumen Gentium) which, inter alia, called the lay people to share the missionary vocation of the church and described the church as the “People of God.” Another Council document, the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,” has promulgated the principle of greater participation of the laity in the celebration of the mass. The Council also enunciated the apostolate of the laity.

The monarchical underpinnings of the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) that proclaimed the infallibility of the pope when speaking ex cathedra somehow deferred, following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), to the increasing role of the bishops (versus the papal prerogative of infallibility) even as the textual modification of the Canon Law paved the way for the recognition of the expanding role of the laity, Chapter III of Lumen Gentium, affirming the hierarchical structure of the Church notwithstanding.

The notion of “shared responsibility,” “co-responsible leadership,” and “decision-making by consensus,” became intertwined with the progressive construction of the Canon Law provisions, as modified by the Second Council, on “pastoral (parish) councils” long before those terminologies became fashionable in the world of business, management and political discourse.

Pope John Paul II in Sources of Renewal, a book he wrote about his experience at the Second Vatican Council, articulated the following:
“. . . A parish needs a council in order to insure that it is truly faithful to God’s call. Catholics have always cherished the idea of obedience and fidelity to God’s word spoken in and through the Church. It is that same Church that is calling its people now to listen for God’s words spoken not only through the leadership, but through fellow Christians as well. But to hear that word spoken through the people requires a new structure, a new way. A council united with the pastor provides by design that way, because its representative nature insures that every voice is heard, not just those that are the loudest, or the most powerful or the most traditional. ”(Italics mine.)
Expounding on the same vein in his book, Co-responsibility in the Church, Leo Joseph Cardinal Suenens, who helped set the agenda of the Vatican II, wrote:
“. . . The role of the one in charge is not that of making a ‘personal’ decision after taking the advice of others into account. For in that case it would still be ‘his’ decision. His role is rather to make it possible, in so far as this depends upon him, for there is to be a common decision, which commits each member to the decision, in such a way that they are solidly behind it and willing to accept all the consequences of what has been decided together.”
Many Christian faithfuls recognize in the gospel narrative that the first to rebel against Hierarchy was Jesus himself. Despite being Divine, Jesus came down not as a conquering King but as a steward to serve and not be served, to ransom as many men, to “go on to the nearby villages” and to build the rock, one Peter at a time.

Christianity triumphed not only for the fact that it accepted all believers (rich, poor, woman, Samaritan, Jews or gentiles); it also returned the power of hope to the powerless.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Compared to Arroyo, Spitzer deserves respect for chutzpah

Reacting to the Eliot Spitzer bombshell I have posted the following in mlq3’s blog:
Rising star Eliot Spitzer who could have been Hilary Clinton’s running mate, announced his resignation as governor of New York on allegation of spending thousand of dollars on call girls. Prostitution is basically a victimless crime but Spitzer, way before a “probable cause” has been determined or “legal truth” established, resigned for failing to live up to the standards expected of public officials, he said.

Politically, Spitzer is deemed finished.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has faced a staggering list of corruption charges including the following as compiled by Philippine Daily Inquirer:

“The Impsa deal where high-ranking officials, including then Justice Secretary Hernando Perez, allegedly got $14 million in kickbacks; the P260-million Jose Pidal bank accounts; the P728-million fertilizer scam; the P2.5-billion poll computerization contract which was voided by the Supreme Court but for which no Comelec official has been prosecuted or penalized; the NorthRail and SouthRail projects entailing millions of dollars in kickbacks; and now, the $329-million NBN-ZTE deal where $130 million was reportedly earmarked in kickbacks for a group of officials and private persons.”

Arroyo’s political body language is seen by many as choreographed to prolong her rule beyond constitutional term limit.

Is it us, Filipinos, or Gloria?
And in reply to the comments of rego, a Filipino New Yorker and both a Spitzer fan and a pro-GMA commenter, I posted, “I’m just thinking too that maybe in the deeper recesses of your thoughts, weren’t you wishing na nag-Gloria na sana si Eliot?” (meaning, Eliot should have just done a Gloria, i.e., hold on to power and not resign).

Rego retorted: “I was thinking about this when this Spitzer scandal came out. My instant reaction was Eliot should resign same way with the majority of the people. I have this discussion with my cousin in law (another big fan of Eliot) who feels that Eliot should not resign. The evidences was just soooooo strong that my stand prevails in the house.”

I came back with this rejoinder:
Let me focus on Manolo’s original sin.

During the 2004 presidential election in the US there were charges of electoral fraud or cheating to the effect that about 350,000 mainly Democratic voters in Ohio either were not allowed to vote or their votes were not counted and that thousands more of Kerry votes were shifted to Bush, altogether enough for Kerry to have won Ohio and the presidential election.

If the evidence to prove the allegations of fraud and cheating were a video clip of hundreds of registered Democratic voters waiting outside the voting precincts for 10-12 hours (and many who were frustrated eventually left home without voting), I’d hold my horse to claim those were “solid” evidence of the charges.

However, if you have a wiretap evidence of Bush (or someone uniquely sounding very much like Bush) telling an Ohio election official to prevent 500,000 Democrats from voting and then 10 of Bush’s cabinet members (with whom he had confided as to how to handle the crisis or what to do with the evidence) have resigned out of disgust, would you consider the wiretap evidence “solid” enough to establish “probable cause” not necessarily of fraud or cheating but of “betrayal of public trust” to be worth the consideration of an impeachment court?

In such a situation, would not your “instant reaction” or your cousin-in-law’s, “same way with the majority of the people,” have been for Bush to resign before being impeached as fast as Spitzer having resigned before being indicted?
Let’s look back a bit.

A couple of weeks before the President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “lapse in judgment” admission, sociologist and UP Professor Randy David (applying what he calls in sociology as "ethnomethodology" that goes into “the rational characteristics of conversations”) had come out with the following analysis of the “Hello Garci” tapes in the June 12, 2005 piece for his PDI column “Public Lives”:
The key figure is a male voice variously referred to as "Commissioner" or "Garci." It was obviously his phone that was bugged. By the types of situations brought to him for fixing, by the variety of people desperately seeking his help, and by the frightening ease with which he dispenses solutions-one would know that this man is an old hand in the underworld of electoral fraud.

He knows exactly where to pull additional votes and for how much, and how to deal with recalcitrant election registrars who don't cooperate. Politicians come to him for help like anxious little children. They rely on him to do all the dirty tricks they need to do to win, things they themselves would sanctimoniously decry in public.

This is the political operator that "Ma'am" repeatedly calls as she nervously awaits the results from far-flung towns in Mindanao. Listen to this cryptic exchange: "Hello Ma'am?/ Hello, meron tayong statement of votes, ERs para sa Sulu?/ Saan po Ma'am?/ Sulu, Sulu./ Oo Ma'am meron po./ Nagco-correspond?/ Oo Ma'am./ Kumpleto?/ Oo Ma'am. Lahat ho meron, hindi po namin ika-count kung.... / Ok, ok."

On the surface it does look like an innocent exchange. The key word here is "nagco-correspond" - a gloss that refers to the practice of fixing canvass results at, say, the provincial level so that they are not at variance with precinct election returns or statement of votes for municipalities. The other gloss is the question "Kumpleto?" This is not a harmless inquiry. Given the kind of response it elicits, it is an urgent demand to make sure the doctoring is done with care.

One knows this from examining other conversations: "Hello/ Hello, Ma'am, good morning. Ok Ma'am, mas mataas ho siya pero mag-compensate po sa Lanao yan./ So will I still lead by more than 1 M overall?/ More or less, but it is still an advantage, Ma'am. Parang ganun din ang lalabas./ Oo, pero it will not be less than 1M?/ Pipilitin ho natin yan. Pero, as of the other day, 982./ Kaya nga eh./ And then, if we can get more in Lanao./ Hindi pa ba tapos?/ Hindi pa ho. Meron pa hong darating na 7 municipalities./ Ah, ok, ok./ Sige po./ Ok, ok, ok..."
The Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) has contended the contents of the conversations in the "Hello Garci" tapes are crimes in themselves:

CODAL arguments as summed up by PCIJ in the following abbreviated version are equally compelling:
- Pres. Arroyo’s implied request for Garcillano to deny any petition from Sen. Biazon to open election documents in Tawi-Tawi ‘at baka matalo ako dun’ is a crime. Influencing an official to decide one way or the other in a case to be filed or pending before him violates Section 261 of the Election Code.

- Garcillano admitted to electoral fraud when he told Pres. Arroyo: "kinausap ko na yung chairman of the Board ng Sulu, yung sa akin. Pataguin ko muna ang EO ng Paguntaran para hindi sila makatestigo ho." A COMELEC official is not supposed to ‘hide’ an election officer or any member of the electoral board to prevent said official from testifying as this is obstruction of justice under Sec. 1 (a) of PD 1829. If the hiding was not ‘voluntary’, Garcillano may even be liable for kidnapping.

- From various conversations in the Garci tapes Pres. Arroyo and Garcillano may be held criminally liable for discussing the commission of electoral fraud. Alleged statements like ,‘ganito ang pagpataas ng iyong boto, eh malinis naman ang pagkagawa’; or "will I still lead by 1 M’ followed by a reply of ‘pipilitin natin’; or ‘Doon naman sa Basilan at Lanao del Sur ito ho yung ginawa nilang magpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh" followed by a reply from Pres. Arroyo saying "so nagma-match?" all point to a conspiracy to manipulate election results.

- The fact that Garcillano and Pres. Arroyo uses the words ‘atin’ referring to themselves and ‘kanila’ or ‘kabila’ when referring to her opponents, already shows the bias of a supposedly independent constitutional official. All these makes both of them liable under Section 261 (z) (21) of the Omnibus Election Code for violating the integrity of election returns and other election documents and other electoral fraud.

- Should Pres. Arroyo claim ignorance to electoral fraud, the fact that she failed to report Garcillano to the proper authorities or filed a complaint against him, despite his frank admission to committing election offenses and by reappointing him to the Comelec, makes her liable under Art. 208 of the Revised Penal Code which provides for a penalty of prision correccional upon a public official who in dereliction of his duties, shall maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution or the punishment of violators of the law or shall tolerate the commission of offenses.
Now, the wiretap conversation where Arroyo appeared to desire for a million-vote margin over the votes of opposition candidate Fernando Poe, Jr. sparked calls for Arroyo to resign. On June 27, 2005, she went on television and apologized for a “lapse in judgment.” While admitting that it was her voice in the recordings she however insisted she did not “influenced the outcome of the election “ as it has “already been decided and the votes counted.”

Here’s the pertinent portion of GMA’s “lapse in judgment” speech on charges of electoral prostitution:

“I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment. I am sorry. I also regret taking so long to speak before you on this matter. I take full responsibility for my actions and to you and to all those good citizens who may have had their faith shaken by these events. I want to assure you that I have redoubled my efforts to serve the nation and earn your trust.

“Nagagambala ako. Maliwanag na may kakulangan sa wastong pagpapasya ang nangyaring pagtawag sa telepono. Pinagsisisihan ko ito nang lubos. Pinananagutan ko nang lubusan ang aking ginawa, at humihingi ako ng tawad sa inyo, sa lahat ng mga butihing mamamayan na nabawasan ng tiwala dahil sa mga pangyayaring ito. Ibig kong tiyakin sa inyo na lalo pa akong magsisikap upang maglingkod sa bayan at matamo inyong tiwala.”

New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s “private failings” speech on allegation of sexual prostitution seems of similar vein:

“I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

“I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant I, and the remarkable people with whom I worked, have accomplished a great deal. There is much more to be done, and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people’s work. Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor. . . .

“I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as human beings, our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family. Then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.”

What’s obviously missing from GMA’s speech is this:

“For this reason, I am resigning from the office of president.”