POSTSCRIPT / July 19, 2005 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Send Gonzalez to pasture, keep him off krissy daisies

AGING WARHORSE: Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez is old. He should be sent to pasture, and there quietly wait for sunset, so he does not step anymore on krissy daisies.

President Arroyo should be kind enough to tell Raul it’s all right, that she does not expect him to demonstrate continually his loyalty and readiness to fight her battles. He has proved his worth already in the canvassing of the votes in the 2004 presidential elections.

Btw, with his bypassing by the Commission on Appointments, Raul’s appointment is deemed to have been automatically terminated unless the President has reappointed him. But how can that be when precisely the President has told everybody to resign?

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SOLE BASIS IS LAW: In deciding the constitutionality of the expanded Value-Added Tax law, the Supreme Court should rule solely on the basis of law, not according to the imagined business sense or commercial concerns of the magistrates of the court.

The tribunal should drop its bad habit of using business and economic principles in deciding questions of law brought before it.

In the same way that we remind legislators to stick to lawmaking and not engage in activities assigned by the Constitution to the Executive branch (such as the awarding of contracts and building of roads), we urge SC justices to stick to their core duty of interpreting the law.

By “law” I mean the Constitution and the statutes, not the law of supply and demand or the law of diminishing returns.

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PRICES IRRELEVANT: A lawyer of the oil companies questioning the VAT law said in his pleadings that the tribunal should strike down that law because, he argued, the expanded tax would raise prices at a time of high inflation.

Excuse me, but the effect of VAT on business in general should not distract or influence the Supreme Court. If, arguendo, prices would soar with VAT being collected, the remedy is in Congress amending the law and/or the Executive taking mitigating measures.

The remedy is not in the Supreme Court’s vaulting over the wall wisely built by the framers of the Constitution. The SC must not meddle in the affairs of other co-equal branches of government. Also, justices should fight the temptation to tell businessmen how to do business.

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SEPARABILITY: My personal stand is for the VAT law to be nullified, because there are more equitable and less complicated ways of drawing blood from the suffering population. But it seems that Congress passed the tax bill and President Arroyo signed it into law in valid exercise of their respective powers.

If the court finds unconstitutional — for being undue delegation of legislative powers — that provision instructing the President to raise the VAT rate from 10 to 12 percent in January 2006 provided certain revenue levels are met by that time, it should strike down only that part.

As there is a separability clause in the VAT law, if one section (such as that part telling the President to raise the VAT rate if…) is declared unconstitutional, only that part should be invalidated, not the entire law. The law can then stand, minus that bad part,

Objection to the VAT law also stems from the fact that it is being imposed on us on the say-so of foreign agencies whose ulterior motive is to enable the government to extort more taxes, pay its gargantuan debts — and then borrow some more and sink deeper into the debt hole.

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GMA LEADING: More POSTSCRIPT readers want President Arroyo to stay. Those choosing this option continued yesterday to dominate (41 percent) the responses of readers giving their preferences from among Post-Gloria scenarios listed in last Sunday’s column.

Running second favorite (13 percent) is the option for removing all officials and allowing a Military Junta to run things.

We are still accepting responses at fdp333@info.com.ph. Please append a 50-word explanation for your choice from these options being pushed by various groups asking for the resignation of President Arroyo:

Option #1President Arroyo resigns. Vice President Noli de Castro becomes president.

Option #2Both Ms Arroyo and Mr. De Castro resign or are removed. The Senate President shall act as president until the replacement president and vice president are chosen in special elections.

Option #3All elective posts from the president down to local executives are declared vacant. A transition president backed by a council takes over what would be an authoritarian setup while a new Constitution is being written.

Option #4A junta dominated by military types grabs power. The junta lays down all the pertinent rules until it decides that the nation is ready for a return to civilian rule.

Option #5NOTA None of the Above. This could mean keeping the status quo (which will have President Arroyo staying on) or settling for your Option #6 below or.

Option #6Your own Option or suggestion.

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MORE COMMENTS: Here are more sample comments from the early respondents:

Emy0208@aol.com: Option #2. The people are given another chance to vote. Filipinos by now have learned their lessons. Let us not elect clowns and unpopular movie characters. We elected them although we had a better choice. If a chess player fights with inferior pieces, he faces a mate or loses via the clock. Arroyo must go or must stay!

Francisco Rodino, rodino1234@yahoo.com: NOTA. Let’s have 5 to 10 years of dictatorship with QC Mayor Sonny Belmonte, Bayani Fernando, Duterte of Davao, or Dick Gordon as dictator with full military support. These people are proven good managers. For once, let’s emphasize discipline and not talk the talk, but walk the walk!

Reynaldo Ong, nonoy6@yahoo.com: Option #1. Following the Constitution, President Arroyo resigns and Vice President Noli de Castro becomes president. To the literati belittling him: A tyrant named Ferdinand Marcos was probably the country’s most literate politician… please spare us from Phd’ed Brendas who would only steal elections and destroy the country’s moral foundations.

Peter Quintero, pquintero@healthpartnership.org: Option #4. The country has tried two EDSA revolutions. This time, a junta dominated by military might help. Let us get endorsement of the junta from the CBCP (Bishops) and the business community. Declare all elective offices vacant; most of them cheated during the elections anyway.

Salvador Page, salbahe@adelphia.net: Option #5. All the noise is designed by both sides to confuse the real issues — the last election was rigged. GMA should ask all Comelec commissioners to resign. To prove that she won the election fair and square, presidential election should be held pitting her against the best that the opposition can field.

Romeo T. Ledesma, Tigbauan, Iloilo: NOTA. I’m fed up with the grotesque posturings and contortions of these Janus-faced politicians, with their gargoyle mouths salivating for PGMA’s resignation. What better alternatives can they offer except chaos and mob rule? PGMA should not abandon the presidency to these alleged “rates and jackals.” Let’s abide by our Constitution.

Conrad G. Javier, Chagrin Falls, Ohio: NOTA. My crystal ball which has been hot lately with the correct political prophesies indicated a status quo. The people of Northern and Central Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao already said a big “No” to the elitist Metro Manila people. The congregation of Bishops foresaw this and said “Amen.”

Tony Reyes, Surprise, Arizona: NOTA. Let GMA stay as president because she will be a “changed” person. She also has the advantage of having the programs and policies of governing already in place. It will be chaotic to have another election, transition government or military junta. Noli de Castro is not really an option.

RAINDEAR, address suppressed: NOTA. If GMA steps down, the cycle will only be completed and a new one started, which may even be more dangerous. The only solution is to rid the Philippines of all politicians, moralists, ambitious aides and former presidents, and the rest of the citizenry who think that the Philippines owe them anything.

Arthur Viray, Angeles City: Option #4. What we need now is military discipline. We cannot handle too much freedom. Military rule will only affect those noisy bastards. Will it affect the lives of ordinary people? I don’t think so. Then again if the likes of Gringo will take over, NOTA na lang.

Esguerra, Sol G, sol.esguerra@aramco.com: NOTA. All I can say is; Madam President MUST stay in her post. That is the only solution and the ultimate solution for our country to survive.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 19, 2005)

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