POSTSCRIPT / May 22, 2022 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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PhD can be tailored swiftly for Bongbong

One positive graduation note we got from New York is that presumed president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. could earn soon a doctorate, honoris causa, in a field related to his experience, expertise and achievements.

After the Congress proclaims Marcos the winner in the May 9 presidential elections and he takes his oath on June 30, some local universities are likely to grant him an honorary PhD – and the 64-year-old politician would finally have a college degree in his curriculum vitae.

Taylor Swift tells graduates to embrace ‘cringe’ as she gets honorary degree at NYU. Photo: Getty Images

The idea of a PhD for Marcos occurred to us after Jillian, youngest daughter of Vice President Leni Robredo, received on Wednesday (May 18) a double bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics with the graduating Class 2022 of New York University.

Grammy-awardee singer-song writer Taylor Swift, the NYU commencement speaker, was conferred in the same rites held at a packed Yankee Stadium an honorary doctorate in fine arts.

In her familiar bright red lipstick and a graduation toga, she said, “Last time I was in a stadium this size, I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard. This outfit is much more comfortable.”

 “I never got to have a normal college experience per se,” she said. “I went to public high school until 10th grade and then finished my education doing home school work on the floor of airport terminals.”

Swift said she began her music career at 15, touring radio stations across the US. She went on to sell more than 100 million albums and won album of the year at the 2021 Grammys for her Folklore, making her the first woman to win the category three times, for Fearless in 2010 and for 1989 in 2016.

“Never be ashamed of trying, effortlessness is a myth,” she told the thousands of graduates. “When hard things happen to us, we will recover, we will learn from it, we will grow more resilient because of it.”

 Averting a constitutional crisis

Time constraints are among the factors complicating petitions before the Supreme Court to disqualify Marcos as a candidate for president in the last elections. Among other things, the DQ bids cite his alleged conviction of tax-related crimes involving moral turpitude.

Must time pressure be allowed to warp the even application of the law on the facts of the case? We trust the SC magistrates will rise and arrive at a Solomonic answer to the questions that some of our elders warn could lead to a constitutional crisis.

It appears that the petitions to disqualify Marcos were not resolved fast enough in the divisions of the Commission on Elections and in the Comelec en banc that reviewed the rulings. Many of the petitions were reportedly filed way back in November last year.

When the losing petitioners were able to run to the SC with their rejected pleas, inexorable time pressure had started to be felt all around.

Asked what they thought of the tight race against time, Senate leaders said that for the SC to temporarily restrain the Congress from proceeding with the canvass until the court finally resolves the issues could trigger a chain of events leading to an emergency.

Senate President Tito Sotto said there could arise a constitutional crisis if the Congress were to be prevented from proceeding with the canvass within the timetable set by the charter.

The petitioners also had asked the court to temporarily stop the Congress from canvassing votes in favor of Marcos, the apparent president-elect based on early returns, whose qualification to run they have questioned in the Comelec and now in their appeal in the SC.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the petitions will not prosper: “The Supreme Court cannot restrain or stop the Congress, acting as the National Board of Canvassers, from performing its constitutional duty of canvassing the votes for President and Vice President, and proclaiming the winner.”

The Constitution says in Sec. 4, Art. VII: “xxx The returns of every election for President and Vice President, xxx shall be transmitted to the Congress. xxx Upon receipt of the certificates of canvass, the President of the Senate shall, not later than 30 days after the day of the election, open all the certificates xxx in joint public session, and the Congress, xxx, canvass the votes.

“The person having the highest number of votes shall be proclaimed elected xxx.”

Sotto said that if the Congress could no longer meet after June 3 (when it adjourns sine die), the canvass would have to hang where it is, suspending the process that was to lead to the swearing-in of a new president on June 30, the date set by the Constitution.

Without a new president sworn into office, what happens? We mentioned here last Tuesday two related questions being asked, especially by non-lawyers. One of them is:

Can President Duterte whose term ends on June 30 legally stay temporarily as holdover president to stave off a possible crisis?

The second question, also mostly from non-lawyers, is: Since there is no disqualification petition against presumed vice president-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio, can she temporarily act as president if the DQ issues against Marcos are still not resolved after June 30?

A third question has reared its head: If the Supreme Court disqualifies Marcos, could Vice President Robredo – who apparently stands to reap the highest number of votes when those for Marcos are declared “stray” upon his disqualification – be proclaimed the winner?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 22, 2022)

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