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The Truth and Nothing But the Truth: Can The Philippines Handle It?

August 3, 2010

Can we handle the truth? It’s not a rhetorical question considering our penchant to steer away from the uncomfortable and the “nakakahiya”. The debate on whether Aquino should create one or not becomes moot and academic as P.Noy has already issued the EO creating the Truth Commission.

(Updated 8:15 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III has finally signed his first executive order which created the Truth Commission that will investigate alleged corruption issues in the nine-year Arroyo administration.

“Today I signed Executive Order No. 1, establishing a commission to investigate allegations of anomalies during the last nine years. The process of bringing a necessary closure to the allegations of official wrongdoing and impunity has begun,” Aquino said in a statement read by his spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing in Malacañang.

The commission will “primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people” committed during the previous administration, EO No. 1 said.

The EO said its investigations will focus on cases that involve “public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any.

The government officials that can be investigated are third-level public officers or higher.

While the focus of the Truth Commission is on cases involving the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino can extend the mandate of the newly-created body to include prior administrations through a supplemental executive order, according to Section 17 of the six-page EO.

The Commission, which will be chaired by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., will have coercive powers. It can request and obtain information and documents from any agency under the executive branch; Congress; the courts including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Court Administrator; and government-owned and controlled corporations.

It can invite or subpoena witnesses and take their testimonies and administer oaths. Public officials who refuse to obey the subpoena, take oath, or give testimony without a lawful excuse, will be subjected to administrative disciplinary action, while any private person who does the same “may be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa, who said the Commission’s powers have solid basis in the Administrative Code, said the Palace is confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the legality and validity of the EO if it is questioned before the high court.

Recommendatory only

Despite its wide powers, however, the Commission has no prosecutorial function, and can only recommend actions to be taken. After its investigation, the Commission will submit its findings to the President, to Congress, and to the Office of the Ombudsman.

De Mesa said the government does not want to speculate on how the Office of the Ombudsman will handle the Commission’s findings amid allegations that Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez’s is personally close to the Arroyo family

“Regardless (of the Ombudsman’s image), the Truth Commission will do its work and make the appropriate recommendations,” he said in the same Palace briefing.

The Commission has until Dec. 31, 2012 to accomplish its mandate. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, said the body can turn over to the proper agencies evidence or recommendations for cases that are “already ripe” for transmittal.

“We need not wait for the completion of the work of the Commission” before the government takes action on specific cases, de Lima said in the same press conference.

This is because the investigative body can, “from time to time for expeditious prosecution, turn over to the appropriate prosecutorial authorities… all evidence that it would have gathered in a particular case or cases,” de Lima said.

The evidence and initial findings could be sent by the Commission to prosecutors “by means of a special or interim report and recommendations,” she added.

De Lima admitted that the function of the Commission may overlap with the functions of some government agencies like the Justice department, but added that what makes it different is its special focus on bringing closure to corruption issues in the Arroyo administration.

“At first glance it seems to be a duplication of the DOJ and even of the Ombudsman, but no,” she explained, “because the reason why we have this particular mechanism is because the president really wants a more focused and a more expeditious disposition of these cases to really put a closure to these very important issues hounding our society.”

Other details to follow

The Commission will have four other officials: general counsel, deputy general counsel, special counsel, and clerk of the Commission. De Lima said a list containing eight to 10 names has been submitted to Aquino who will then choose from the list.

She refused to disclose the names on the list until Aquino has selected who will comprise the rest of the Truth Commission, saying only that three of these people have already signified their intention to join the fact-finding body.

The Commission is empowered to call on the Justice department or any of the agencies under it and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission for assistance and cooperation. It can also engage the services of resource persons or personnel if necessary.

The funding for the Commission will be sourced from the Office of the President. The Commission will determine its budgetary requirements as well as its rules and procedures and what cases it will tackle, De Mesa said.

The Commission’s hearings will be open to the public but it can, upon its own initiative or upon the request of persons testifying, hold executive or closed-door hearings on matters where “national security or public safety” is involved or “when the personal safety of the witness” warrants it.— Jam Sisante/RSJ/LBG/JV, GMANews.TV

Like any other issue, there will always be another side. The challenge as always is which “side” takes ascendance. Senator Miriam Santiago represents “another side” – one that questions the existence of the Truth Commission itself. Sen Santiago is now mulling to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Santiago mulls taking Truth Commission to SC

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:29:00 08/02/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Government, Judiciary (system of justice)

MANILA, Philippines–Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is threatening to question before the Supreme Court the legality of Executive Order No. 1 that created the Truth Commission, calling it a “gross violation of the Constitution.”

“Let me say it candidly, Executive Order Number 1 is a usurpation of legislative function and we all in the legislative branch have a bound in duty to oppose that kind of usurpation. Even if I have to go to the Supreme Court, even with my poor physical health to fight for it,” the senator told a press conference on Monday.

“This is a gross violation of the Constitution. This is what happens when lay people start to take technical interpretations of the Constitution” she said.

Santiago said the President violated the doctrine of “non-delegation” which says that “Do not delegate what the Constitution has assigned to you” when he issued the EO instead of asking Congress to just pass a law on it.

“The administration could have the humility to ask Congress by means of a certification of urgent necessity. In other words, the President should certify as urgent a bill to create the Truth Commission,” she said.

“Because as it stands now, it’s plainly unconstitutional and the efforts to explain this constitutionality are very sophomoric. In other words, it’s a bunch of amateurs trying to justify what they are doing,” she added.

Santiago cited two Supreme Court rulings upholding the sole power of Congress to create agencies of government.

To spare the new administration from embarrassment, Santiago said the government should withdraw the EO, as she expressed readiness to lead the filing of a measure to create the fact-finding body.

“Why risk the embarrassment of being turned by the Supreme Court in the first EO? Why do that? I don’t understand. These crooks are here, they will be here until they croak,” she pointed out.

Besides, the senator said that the commission would only duplicate the works of the Office of the Ombudsman, which is tasked to investigate allegations of graft and corruption against government officials.

Santiago believes the President was just compelled to form the body because he was disappointed at the slow pace of cases in the Office of the Ombudsman.

But because Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has a fixed term, the President could not compel her to step down from office.

Instead of forming the commission, Santiago said the administration should have just created a special prosecution that would specifically handle the graft and corruption allegations during the past administration.

I agree with Miriam’s position that the administration should have just created a special prosecution that would specifically handle the graft and corruption allegations during the past administration.

Based on the SC’s previous positions concerning controversial EOs – such as the one executive privilege, there is a high probability that parts of Aquno’s EO #1 will be declared unconstitutional – and some parts will be upheld. Both quarters will then declare respective victories.

The History of Truth Commissions

Truth commissions are a recent development and have gained wide support in South America, South Africa in response to a popular clamor for social justice and redress of human rights.

[iframe: src=”http://www.truthcommission.org/factor.php?fid=0〈=en” frameborder=”1 “scrollable=”yes” height=”400″ width=”600″]

The Aquino administration has successfully framed corruption as a human rights issue rather than an economic issue. After all, if it weren’t successful in doing so – Aquino will not be president today. The Truth Commission therefore is a logical next step to implementing this framework – that corruption causes poverty.

Will Venting and “Closure” About Corruption Work Amidst A Policy Environment that Restricts Growth and Increases Pressure to Be Corrupt?

One of the “powers” of the Truth Commission is that it provides a “theraputic platform” for all people who have been witness to the impunity of the previous administration and don’t want it to be repeated – and that’s a good thing. Is the truth commission the way? Aquino has chosen to roll the dice – and he is entitled to it. The bottom line after all is – RESULTS.

The experience in other countries which have used Truth Commissions admittedly show that the commissions did not have legal teeth but they had moral teeth as this allowed the airing out of dirty laundry, gain media attention, influence the national psyche by shaming the “guilty” parties. Being able to air out the violations to an official body, without fear of recrimination is already empowering for those who have not have had the chance to let their voices be heard. The exercise of denouncing the perpetrators is empowering to the “victims”.

Corruption as a Deprivation of Human Rights

I have to hand it to Aquino’s media handlers – how they were able to reframe the issue of corruption from one of economics to one of human rights. The Truth Commission will keep the people entertained in sessions of therapy for the next six years. They will feel empowered that they were able to denounce the impunity of the Arroyo administration. But after all this exercise – will their lives be any better, economically?

Certainly, Aquino’s efforts will have some catch – but am not sure what exactly it will catch. The crux of the matter is that poverty is a – it’s the economy STUPID!

Sure you can recover some revenue and generate some more through these anti-corruption measures.

But, the magnitude of revenue that can be generated by approaching the issue of corruption as one that results from restricting economic freedom is far greater.

Which means, if we are indeed out to address a perceived wrong – the deprivation of our human rights due to the economic deprivation brought by corruption – shouldn’t we then be addressing the bigger challenge that causes economic deprivation – the lack of economic freedom due to the protectionist clauses of the 1987 Aquino Constitution.

Shouldn’t we then create a separate truth commission that will study how protectionism impacted the Philippines? How the monopoly businesses inefficient business caused damage and lost opportunities to the Philippine economy? Or just get to the heart of it and amend the Philippine constitution.

Meanwhile let P. Noy continue fiddling while the Philippines burns – not everyone can handle the truth that the Aquino truth commission solution is just plain… fiddling.

References:

1. http://www.truthcommission.org/factor.php?fid=0&lang=en, Accessed 8/3/2010

2. http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/truth_com.htm, Accessed 8/3/2010

3. http://www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice/issues/truth-commissions, Accessed 8/3/2010

4. http://www.ictj.org/en/tj/138.html, Accessed 8/3/2010

5. http://www.hrcr.org/hottopics/mexico.html, Accessed 8/3/2010

From → Government

39 Comments
  1. bokyo permalink

    Hindi naman nakakain yang Truth Commission na yan e

  2. Hyden Toro permalink

    This is a Classic Political Tactic of the Aquino family. Find and bring out the dirty works of your political enemies.
    Truth Commission is just one way to play the Blame Game. How about the truth about the Aquino family?

    These are the things, we would like to know about them:

    (1) How did they acquire the vast tract of lands in Tarlac called: Hacienda Luisita?

    (2) Why did the Aquino family financed the arms shipment of MV Karagatan? And, financed and supported the New People’s Army?

    (3) What is the truth about the killing of the tenants/demonstrators in Mendiola, during the term of Cory Aquino?

    (4) Why do Noynoy Aquino continue to evade the Land Reforming of Hacienda Luisita? The Land Reforming of the Haciendas of his political supporters? The implemention of the Land Reform Program?

    (5) Why did he not clear up the squatters of Metro Manila? They are the causes of floods and pollutions.

    (6) When will we become self sufficient in food supply? Rice and sugar, no longer imported.

    (7) When will the OFWs come home,and will have good jobs in the country?

    These issues are more important, than the digging of dirts of his political enemies. Because, he himself, is not blameless. He served as Senator. Do we believe, he does not know these scandals? What did he do, when he was a sitting Senator? Sleep…and just take his pay?

  3. Jay permalink

    You know the promise of a truth commission would have been better if;

    1) can file a subpoena
    2) can actually send people to jail

    and in the end it still goes back to the Ombudsman and the DOJ.

    Of course the affluent and the like can give two craps about it. But with the increase of certain costs such as the LRT, higher tax, higher electricity (maybe it could get a bit cheaper when the rainy season comes again) and this truth commission is going to hit the masses the most. And no minimum wage increase and no short term economic plan is going help out.

  4. boombox permalink

    IMO

    Truth or Commission?
    parang lang yan sila nag lalaro ng spin the bottle dare or truth..

    bagay tawag sa kanila… O-tot Commission

  5. ulong pare permalink

    … daaang

    … y’all are not seeing the real turotot behind the truth komisyon…

    … komisyon depends on the number of cases filed…

    … ‘sang tambaks na kaso, allah eh, di ‘sang tambaks ang komisyon…

    … ay sus ginoo, kumita na naman ang mga hindot the retarded ooopsie retired supremo abugagos…

  6. PNoy publicly condemned and convicted the past government in his SONA. To the minds of gullible people, Arroyo is already guilty. PNoy is just wasting time and money.

    Why not just hang Gloria Arroyo, Mr. President? That will be cheaper !😐

    Memo No. 1 was a farce. So is EO NO. 1.

  7. bokyo permalink

    It’s just a cover-up to show his “mandate” that he is really doing something.

  8. Miriam Quiamco permalink

    Mel, the Inquirer is an accomplice in this farce: “Arroyo under fire in the palace and in congress”. What is going to happen to this country now that the agenda of revenge is taking center stage. These dick-heads should be talking about alternative energy, the water crisis, economic developments issues, poverty alleviation, policy, policy, instead there is grandstanding and finger-pointing. That Belo character is despicable, the biggest dick-head among all the congressmen, he wasted an hour in his privilege speech to assassinate the character of GMA. There is an orgy of hatred in this administration. How is the country going to solve all its intractable problems of corruption, government inefficiency, when the lawmakers are only masters at mudslinging. Why do people keep electing such clowns!!!!

  9. What’s the use of adding another layer to all that bull? Does PNoy call that “doing something?”

  10. Miriam Quiamco permalink

    correction: development issues, mel, I think they should impeach Walden Bello for breaching basic rule of decency in parliamentary debate. Not only that, Arroyo should sue his ass and all these people who are throwing unsubstantiated accusations at her. The way these people are conducting their agenda of revenge and hatred is truly lamentable, zero professionalism, gutter-level and does not promote rule of law. Why can’t government bodies quietly go about doing their duties instead of using public space for grandstanding and spewing hatred. They are poisoning the public space with their small-mindedness, treating it like extensions of their living rooms, no respect at all. I am now convinced Walden Bello is immature and undeserving of a seat in Congress, where is the real direction of this country. This is exactly what I have been writing about the bankruptcy of an N/A agenda of revenge, we cannot move forward into more meaty policy debate because now they have high-jacked the government agenda that should have been focused on policy-making and problem solving. They should just impeache all these lawmakers who are sabotaging the progress of the country.

  11. NFA rice permalink

    The Truth Commission has no judicial powers, to spare the bitch gloria from prosecution. Pang Da Buzz lang ang effect to keep braindeads the likes of De Quiros and Ellen Tordesillas happy. Si P.Noy talaga yung secret candidate ni Gloria. Kawawa si Villar.

  12. UP nn grad permalink

    O, ayan, may nag-banggit ulit. Mukhang isang-beses (baka sobra pa) isang beses bawat dalawang buwan, may magsasabi na si Noynoy ang ➡ secret candidate.

    Dapat ang atupagin ni Noynoy ay pagandahin ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas pero beyond wangWANG and the Davide Commission, Noynoy still has🙄 not identified what projects he will accomplish by 2011 and what projects he will accomplish by 2012. Noynoy really belongs to the Margallo-school where “The Leader Is A Follower” /:mrgreen: / “the president waits for the citizens to tell him what they want, and the president should obey!”.

    Sana naman, his cabinet secretaries like Abad/Education , Dinky/Social Work, Robredo / Local Government have significant projects💡 they want to make happen for Pilipinas.

  13. ulong pare permalink

    … daaang

    @NFA r: kasi daw, ombudsman and sc are ate glo’s askals (asong kalsada)…

    … prez gung gong wants ombudsman (abugago supremo) to resign and for corona (supremo abugago) to finish his theses at the univerisadad to get his MS diploma…

    … the abugago supremos and supremo abugagos belong to team ladrones garapales…

    … kaya, prez gung gong commissioned a new commission to investigate the commissioned commission…

    … ay sus ginoo, flips, napakagulo ninyo… :mrgreen:

  14. @Miriam

    The political arena of the Philippines is really laughable. Democracy is being abused in this country.
    Sometimes, I wish we have a dictatorship:mrgreen: , so we can get rid of these saboteurs.:mrgreen:

    What comforts me a bit is that some Yellow supporters in my neighborhood are starting to change their views on PNoy. They are saying “wala ding pagbabago, ganun pa din” but it is also saddening that many are passive when it comes to political discussions.

  15. rego permalink

    Help I cannot access AP at home. I think its a virus. Can anybody help.? Ang nakapgatataka lang eh kung bakit AP lang ang hinid ko mabuksan. Somebody must be sabotaging the AP

  16. Miriam Quiamco permalink

    Ay naku Mel, buti pa si Pacquiao, may sense pa, alam pa na dapat may dignidad ang mga pamamalakad sa gobierno/kongreso. Iyang Bello na iyan, parang taga “gungongan, saan ba yon Daaaang”, parang desperado na walang pinag-aralan, saan ba galing kangkungan iyang Bello na iyan, siguro iyong agenda niya for economic development, ghostly written iyon, kasi wala talaga siyang ka sense, sense as a lawmaker, they should punish him, or the standard of behavior in congress will be soooo degraded, we might as well go there and join the ruckus/fracas.

  17. @rego – who’s your provider? what are you using? next time you login from home execute the following commands in the OS terminal (run Cmd or command.com) – copy and paste the results – lookup the commands in google for details

    1 – ipconfig /all

    2 – netstat -a -b

    3. use nbtstat

    4. ping antipinoy.com

    5. tracert antipinoy.com (traceroute antipinoy.com in some systems)

    let us know how it turns out. thanks

  18. boombox permalink

    diba nga… “Kayo ang boss ko….”
    that sums up he’s a follower… Uto-uto nga.. LOL

  19. PenoyBugok permalink

    1. It’s not a truth commission but a truth OMISSION

  20. Until it becomes a Truth Consumisyon.😆

  21. How about the SCTEX Komisyon? Kasama din kaya sa Truth “Consumisyon”?

  22. crust permalink

    Your i-frame on http://www.truthcommission.org has its link mangled and exposes a possible security vulnerability on their site…

  23. JOSEPH OPULENCIA permalink

    teacher mo dati, insultuhin mo, ano klaseng ugali meron c pnoy yan ba ang pamana ni cory? No wonder c cory namatay d marunong magpatawad then gusto pang gawin santo nag mga ibang pari. shame…

  24. redd permalink

    If am the president, I will imprison all dissents, especially the commies who do nothing but make noise and destabilize the nation.

    I will rule with an iron hand because that is what it takes to rule the republic of suckers.

    The situation calls for the curtailment of some of the rights in favor of food, shelter, jobs and a better economy.

    Screw western, absolute democracy. It has not and will not ever work with the people of the republic of suckers.

  25. That’s what my mom’s side believes in, being conservatives (or moderates with conservative leanings). Frankly, I would have to agree with them (and you). A benevolent dictatorship (Singapore writ large) would surely work wonders here, don’t you think?

  26. If we’re his boss, how do we fire him when we are too few? Unless he was talking to the lesser beings that chose him over better candidates…

  27. redd permalink

    @Aegis

    I certainly do. I fully agree with Lee Kwan Yew when he said that “western democracy is not for Asia”.

    Singapore and Malaysia easily come to mind as nations that benefited from a strong, iron-fisted leadership.

    PI should be turned into a federal parliamentary and each state shall be governed the way Singapore and Malaysia are governed. Let us embrace excellence by all means and ditch mediocrity.

    Enough of this absolute freedom which has brought us nowhere.

  28. Phil Manila permalink

    Kindly allow yours truly to repeat again one more time:

    REACTIVE: 3Cs – Complain, Criticize, and Curse!

    PROACTIVE: 3Ms – Mobilize, Meet your Senator/Congressman, Make a Letter to the Editor/Op-Ed

    Let us begin to move from being PART OF THE PROBLEM to being PART OF THE SOLUTION. Or, we can continue to RANT till we get old and tired.

    Sabagay, as what the words of wisdom of Mr. Karl Garcia said, and I quote:

    ‘Nagkukuwentuhan lang naman talaga tayo dito sa mga blogs…’

    Preciousss!

  29. You wanna mobilize without identifying what you should be mobilizing about – be my guest -jump without knowing😆
    the question is what are you mobilizing for – it was easy to mobilize the noybots – and what did you get? a string of gaffes?😆
    haste makes waste.

  30. ulong pare permalink

    … daaang

    @Philma namann namann namannn

    … kindly allow truly yours to repeat again and again…

    … REACTIVE: O’s Oligarchs… oligarchs… OOOOligarchs…

    … PROACTIVE: PCs: Poli Clans… clans… CCCCCCClans….

    … begin dismantling oligarchies, political clans, kamag-anaks, ka-iyutans, echastera, etc… and be part of the future…

    … sabagay my words of wisdom do not make sense to flip gung gongs… WALA NA KAYONG MALAMON, PURO PA RIN KAYO KAGUNG GUNGAN…

    … mas preciouss….:mrgreen:

  31. Jay permalink

    @Phail Manila

    Here you are tooting your initiative horn. How nice! Lets see…

    Mobilize FOR WHAT? Without recognizing what needs to be done, you are just wasting resources. Meet your senator congressman? Okay tell us the venue and forum and assemble everybody so the people you want it to happen can mobilize. Assuming that you also want clarification with the recent events to assuage the worries of the citizens, since so far people in AP have it right. Make a letter to OP-Editor? List em, right now mister I am the face of the pinoy initiative.

    Didn’t vote for noynoy, so don’t look at me like I have responsibility for you and the rest of the yellow cult that wanted a Yellow Government. YOU mobilize, YOU GIT ER DONE since you feel AP isn’t doing things right and YOU GET RECOGNIZED since that is what you are after in the end anyway.

    LRN2 Politics. Because the Filipino brand of politics seems to be failing you.

  32. ulong pare permalink

    … daaang

    … prez gung gong’s truth commission is commissioned to extract truth from the lieing ate glo for commissioning her midnight commissionaries a month prior to commissioning prez gung gong as flipland commissioner…:mrgreen:

    … ang gulo ano?

    … mas maganda nyan, allah eh, as soon as ate glo enter tongresso, grab her, posasan, drag her to prez gung gong opisina and inject her with truth serum…

    … ate glo would sing like a jaybird… siguradong walang alpas, di ba?:mrgreen:

  33. Miriam Quiamco permalink

    Jay, in fairness, I think Phil Manila did not vote for Noynoy. . . we used to blog together over at FV and he was clearly not for Noynoy.

  34. yellow fever free permalink

    he’s a classic example of modern day “makapili”… may pinagmanahan diba?

  35. red permalink

    this is great! because corruption only started existing 9 years ago!

    /sarcasm

  36. True… I was reading TC’s “The Teeth of the Tiger” and one thought kept knocking:

    “Freedom, as the Europeans and Americans understood the concept, was too chaotic…” “There had to be order.”

    -pp. 380-381

    If only we can embrace meritocracy as readily as we embrace our faith in God, instead of running away from it like aswangs from a rosary.

  37. ulong pare permalink

    … daaang

    … @red, you don’t say…. noooooooooOOOOoooooo…:mrgreen:

  38. silvercrest permalink

    E.O. = Emo Order

    Paano na lang kung bawat administrasyon ay gagawa ng truth komisyon? Magkano ang budget nyan? Samantalang kay daming maaaring paglaanan ng pera.

  39. December 7, 2010 – The SC declares the truth commission as UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!

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