Convoluted rules

Credit to Author: Tempo Desk| Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2019 17:03:56 +0000



RELYING on the journal of proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Convention, the Su­preme Court, in its 2002 decision on the Socrates v. Comelec, case, has interpreted Sections 4 and 7 of the 1987 Charter, which affect the tenural terms of legislators, as a mere regulation and not exactly a prohibition from running again for the same offices.

Section 4 of the Charter states that senators cannot serve over two consecutive terms of six years each, while Section 7 stipulates that no House member can serve more than three consecutive terms.

In its ruling, the High Tribunal argued that the prohibition takes effect only after the stipulated terms have been completed but does not explicitly limits any senator or congressman to seek more terms after the expiry of the proscription.

Because the SC is deemed as the interpreter of laws, the Com­mission on Elections followed the tribunal’s verdict to the letter. The haste with which the Comelec’s decision was made became one of the culprits why there is a glut of legislators who do not even know the difference between truly working for public service and lawmaking.

The return of blockheads to the Senate and the House, unless the SC redefines its interpretation of the contentious constitutional pro­visions, has only cheapened Con­gress and turned its two chambers into comedy houses of errors.

If there is anything parallel to this judicial indecisiveness, it is the way the SC has interpreted the Constitution’s party-list in­novation which, as we all know now, has turned the system into a playground for the wealthy and powerful instead of the marginal­ized sectors as conceived.

Reinterpreting the term-limits provisions to strengthen the political system is surely a good option. If the SC changes its opinion, lawmaker opportunists can be barred permanently from running for the same public office they last held.

As one commentator has bluntly declared, the Senate and House, because of the irresoluteness of the High Court, have become hosts to discards whom we call lawmakers but prefer to be part of the clapping gallery instead of performing respectable and mean­ingful lawmaking roles.

Candidly, things in Congress today are not what we know in the past.. Instead of exciting debates among intellectual giants who make sensible laws, many lawmak­ers are even afraid to stand up to defend their own bills.

What a shame, indeed!