By Lilybeth G. Ison
MANILA, Aug. 14 (PNA) — A Malacanang official on Thursday said clipping the powers of the Supreme Court (SC) was on “top of mind concern” of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
“Siguro po para sa kanya iyon (clipping powers of the SC) ‘yung top-of-mind concern dahil noong una siyang tinanong iyon kaagad ang kanyang sinabi at iyon din ay maaaring borne out of his consciousness of the mandate of the people that he needs to fulfill,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr., in a press briefing in the Palace.
He also said that reducing the powers of the Supreme Court (SC) through Charter change (Cha-cha) will help President Aquino in serving the welfare of the nation.
“Dahil nga nais niyang (Aquino) tumugon sa kapakinabangan ng buong bansa, naisip niya na iyon ang isang bagay na dapat niyang tukuyin para siya ay maging tapat sa kanyang mga amo — ang mga mamamayang Pilipino,” he said.
President Aquino, in a television interview on Wednesday, said he is open to Cha-cha — a way to amend the powers of the SC.
“Bago nangyari lahat ng ito, sarado (no to Cha-cha)… aminado ako (Before all these things happened, I was closed to it, I admit that),” the President said when asked on his views about constitutional amendment.
“Pero ngayon, napapag-isip ako talaga… yung tinatawag na judicial reach (But now, I’m seriously rethinking things. Because of the judicial reach),” he added.
The President, however, stressed that he was worried that opening up the Constitution to amendments could result in some of the “good provisions” also being “diluted.”
Still, he noted how the 1987 Constitution mandated the Supreme Court to step into even political questions, in contrast to the setup when the Marcos-era SC refused to check the Executive on the 1972 martial law declaration because it was a “political question.”
President Aquino said there are those who wonder whether the SC of today is overstepping its powers in checking its co-equal branches.
He observed that under the Constitution, the SC can say: “Yung kongreso, executive, kumilos kayo, pero any time, pwede namin kayong kastiguhin… Instead of being judicious with judicial restraint, parang masyadong madalas ginagamit… Ngayon, yung balance between the three branches, tila nawala.”
Meanwhile, Coloma dismissed opinions that the President is destroying the legacy of his parents — the late democracy icons Ninoy and Cory Aquino — by entertaining Cha-cha.
“Batid ng lahat kung paano ang pagsisikap ng Pangulo na itaguyod ang mga prinsipyo na ipinaglaban ng kanyang mga magulang. Kaya nga masigasig din siya sa pagpapatuloy ng transpormasyon ng buong bansa na naaayon sa matuwid na daan,” he said.
“It is well known that the President has been doing his best to institute reforms that will bring about the transformation of Philippine society in keeping with his parents’ legacy,” he added.
The PCOO chief also denied allegation that the President is fanning the flames between the Executive and the Judiciary.
“Walang kaisipan ang Pangulo na maging palaban o lumikha pa ng hidwaan. Nagdeklara lang siya ng kanyang paniwala tungkol sa prinsipyo,” he said. (PNA)