Davide, Monsod and Gascon

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What do retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Christian Monsod, and incumbent Commission on Human Rights Chairman Jose Luis Gascon have in common? Answer: They are political appointees of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.

What else?
They are a few of the surviving personalities who were appointed by Mrs. Aquino to the unelected 1986 Constitutional Commission which, in turn, drafted the current charter — the 1987 Constitution.

Prior to this year’s election campaign season, when a team of lawyers headed by ex-Supreme Court Chief Justice and former Marcos-era Assistant Solicitor General Reynato Puno were drafting a Federal constitution for the country, Davide and Monsod publicly opposed the replacement of the charter they drafted.

Davide and Monsod were seen in a photograph published in a newspaper (not the Daily Tribune) carrying large signs expressing their admiration for the charter they drafted.

A rabid Davide even proclaimed once on national television that the constitution he and his colleagues in the Constitutional Commission drafted was the best charter ever for the country.

What about it?
The results of the recent midterm election not only demonstrated the electorate’s utter dislike for the Aquinos and the their underlings in the now discredited Liberal Party; the results also highlighted the very serious defects in the charter Davide and his group drafted.

Davide and his team may not have noticed it but 32 years since it took effect, the 1987 Constitution has brought the consequences of its ill-conceived and malignant provisions on the May 2019 elections.

The most obvious is the corruption of the partylist system, a unique feature of the 1987 Charter.

Loftily intended by Davide’s Constitutional Commission as a means of allowing grassroots representation in Congress, especially for marginalized groups which cannot compete with established political parties and vested interest groups, the partylist system has evolved into a Frankenstein’s monster — a rear entrance to Congress by large political parties, political dynasties, moneyed personalities and non-marginalized groups.

A recent example is provided by Ronald Cardema, erstwhile chairman of the National Youth Commission and a purported substitute nominee of the Duterte Youth, a political party registered under the partylist system.

When it seemed certain that the Duterte Youth was going to win one seat in Congress, the five original nominees of the party collectively resigned. Cardema followed suit with a petition he filed with the Comelec which seeks his substitution as the only nominee of the party.

Surprisingly, Cardema, who was not even listed as a nominee of the party, expects to assume office any time soon.

In other words, an individual who nobody even suspected of having an interest in elective public office, and who was never subjected to public scrutiny either by the voters or the media, is suddenly imposed on the taxpayers as a member of Congress.

As a result, many of the past and of the incoming members of the House of Representatives elected under the partylist system are from political dynasties, which see the partylist system as a less expensive, less scrutinized way of obtaining political power.

All that is obviously a corruption of the partylist system.

Defenders of the partylist system blame the Supreme Court (SC) for the mess because the most recent ruling of the high tribunal on partylist representation in Congress paved the way for the current situation.

It is, however, not fair to leave all the blame on the SC. The real culprit is the poorly crafted provisions of the Constitution regarding the partylist system. The language used by Davide and his group was the basis for the now criticized decision of the SC.

In other words, if Davide and company used more explicit and less equivocal language in drafting the provisions of the 1987 Constitution on the partylist system, there would have been no occasion for the SC to arrive at its controversial ruling in the first place.

Although Davide, Monsod and Gascon are very proud of the charter they drafted, the trio have not owned up to the mess that is the partylist system they created and imposed on the unsuspecting Filipino voters today.

That kind of duplicity is unforgivable.

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