I think a lot of us missed something important in the events of last week. Important because what started it all was an affront to one tenet of democracy.
And no, I am not talking about Secretary Leila de Lima’s show of balls (or arrogance, according to some people.)
No, I am talking about the SC’s decision to “bend over backwards to accommodate the request of petitioners for a TRO,” to quote Justice Sereno’s dissent (PDF link). (She was being gracious; what’s on my mind for the past few days was worse: bend over and spread its legs.)
Why is this important?
First, it is instructive to quote several provisions of our Constitution.
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES AND STATE POLICIES
Section 1. The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.
Section 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.
BILL OF RIGHTS
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
Let me highlight Section 1, Article III, specifically “nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”
Emphasis on EQUAL PROTECTION.
The Supreme Court, by giving cognizance to the TRO petition, and accommodating Gloria Arroyo (for example, when it extended its office hours so that it could accept the required cash bond), had inevitably shown the EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW exists as long as you are part of the 1%.
How many of you had parents, grandparents, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, relatives, and friends who spent a night in jail all because (1) the warrant of arrests were issued close to end of office hours, (2) did not have enough money to post bail (amount of which is not affordable to the 99%), and (3) when money is available, the courts had already closed (even if it wasn’t end of office hours, even for night courts)? This is an example, and I won’t be surprised if this is representative of what’s happening here.
Once we apply different standards of justice depending on one’s stature in society, the rule of law collapses. The so-called constitutional crisis did not begin with de Lima’s defiance, it began with the SC’s bending backwards and spreading its legs. This is the point that most of us missed, and continue to miss.
I’ve realized we had an Occupy Movement opportunity, but we missed it. Maybe because we have been so jaded by the injustice and inequality, but I think it’s time we take a stand and put an end to the 1% getting preferential treatment on justice.