Friday, 18 November 2011

Eminent constitutionalists score Aquino gov't for 'continued defiance' of SC's TRO

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s eminent constitutionalists Wednesday scored the Aquino government for its continued defiance of the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court against moves of the executive department to prevent former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from seeking medical treatment abroad.

Through its president Manuel M. Lazaro, the Philippine Constitution Association issued a strong rebuke of the actions of the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration in preventing Arroyo and her husband, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, from boarding the aircraft that would have taken them to Singapore on Tuesday night.

Philconsa is composed of legal luminaries and expert constitutionalists.  Also members of the organization are framers of the 1987 and 1971 Constitution.

The organization issued a statement on the on-going legal battle between the DOJ and the Arroyos even as solons warned of a constitutional crisis as a result of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima’s refusal to honor the TRO.

Philconsa cautioned government that willful defiance of a judicial order is “not only contumacious but also dangerous to, destructive of the rule of law”.

The group also warned that the DOJ and the Bureau of Immigration can be held liable for violating the “fundamental principle of separation of powers of the three departments of our government.”

“The reported resistance or disobedience of the officials of the  Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI)  in refusing motu proprio to honor, obey and implement  the Supreme Court TRO  allowing  former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband to exercise their constitutional right to travel, embraced by the broader natural right of freedom of movement, an important aspect of liberty and the essence of our free society, may usher the beginning of the end of the elaborate system of checks–and-balances  to secure coordination in the workings of the various departments of the government,” Lazaro stated.

Lazaro served government as government corporate counsel and presidential legal adviser under the Marcos administration.

He said: “The basic right to travel interfaces with other equally precious rights, such as the right to life, the right to seek medical assistance abroad, the right to choose his doctors and the right to exercise other rights related to his privacy and personhood.”

“Hence, the constitutional right to travel cannot or may not be curtailed until and unless there is a law passed by Congress impairing the right on grounds of  national security, public safety and public health,” Lazaro stated.


'There is now a constitutional crisis' — Sen. Arroyo
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Joker Arroyo accused Wednesday President Benigno S. Aquino III of defying the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) by barring Tuesday night the departure to Singapore of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel ‘’Mike’’ Arroyo.


Escudero fears that the gov't is bringing the country to a constitutional crisis
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines -- Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero Wednesday expressed concern that former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo could find an opportunity to seek political asylum with other countries with the way the Department of Justice and Malacanang is defying the temporary restraining order (TRO) recently issued by the Supreme Court.

Escudero said he is alarmed over the probability that the government is bringing the whole country to a constitutional crisis as they insist on prohibiting the lawmaker and her husband former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo from leaving the country to seek medical treatment abroad despite the High Court’s order.

“I thought that with the way the government is doing right now, they are giving the former President reason to ask for an asylum,” Escudero said in an interview.

Because of this defiance and Malacanang’s insistence to control the proposed 2012 budget of the Judiciary, ‘’there is now a constitutional crisis,’’ Arroyo, a known human rights advocate, said

The inevitable consequence of such defiance is causing the current democratic system to crumble as the two co-equal branches of government are not giving in, he stressed   .

‘’The presidency is already at war. When the President defies a TRO that is the crisis. The Constitution says that any order of the Supreme Court is superior to that of any other official, including the President of the Philippines,’’ Arroyo told Senate reporters.

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