Sat. May 28th, 2022
The more BBM haters flog the presidential candidate, the better his survey ratings become. In fact even if you combine the ratings his four opponents, post Marcos Jr. still leads comfortably. 

By Louis “Barok” Biraogo

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) recently disallowed several parties from intervening in the disqualification (DQ) cases against ex-Senator Bongbong Marcos (BBM) pending before the poll body.

BBM is running for president, and those petitions want BBM disqualified from pursuing his candidacy, supposedly because BBM is disqualified pursuant to certain provisions of the Omnibus Election Code (Election Code) and the National Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code).

The bulk of the legal arguments postulate that the DQ petitions are untenable and baseless, and that disqualifying BBM violates the latter’s constitutional rights. I discussed those arguments in an article published earlier under this column. Nonetheless, I wish to state that the best legal argument in favor of BBM has been overlooked.

Section 2, Article VII of the Constitution enumerates in meticulous detail the qualifications for the presidency: “No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.”

The Constitution imposes no other qualifications for the presidency.

Section 3, Article VII of the Constitution states also in detail the disqualifications for the presidency: “No President shall be eligible for any reelection. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”

Take note that Section 3 above employs the words eligible and qualified. These terms clearly indicate that Section 3 is all about who are ineligible for the presidency.

The Constitution mentions no other disqualifications for the presidency.

Therefore, the only requirements for one to be President of the Philippines are: (1) one must possess all of the qualifications provided in Section 2 quoted above, and (2) none of the disqualifications listed in Section 3 likewise quoted.

May the legislature enact a law which will add to the qualifications and disqualifications listed in Sections 2 and 3, Article VII, respectively? No, it cannot do so. To hold otherwise is to vest in Congress the power to amend the Constitution through mere legislation—which is unconstitutional.

Congress has no constitutional power to amend the Constitution through the mere exercise of its legislative power. If Congress wants to amend the Constitution, it must first convene as a constituent assembly, formally propose the amendments it wants, and then submit those proposed amendments for ratification by the Filipino people in a plebiscite called for that purpose. A mere law enacted by the legislature cannot validly amend the Constitution.

Accordingly, any legislative enactment that amends any provision of the Constitution is unconstitutional. Being unconstitutional, that legislative enactment cannot be enforced for any reason whatsoever.

The DQ petitions invoke, as supposed grounds for disqualifying BBM, provisions of the Election Code and the Tax Code, which are not among the grounds for disqualification listed in Section 3, Article VII of the Constitution.

Since the provisions of the Election Code and the Tax Code cited against BBM have the effect of adding to the list of the grounds for qualification and/or disqualification listed in Sections 2 and 3 above, those provisions in both codes are unconstitutional.

Clearly, therefore, the DQ petitions against BBM are based on unconstitutional provisions of law. Therefore, the outright dismissal of those petitions is inevitable.

Elective barangay positions are created by law. Congress has the power to decide who may and who may not run for barangay posts. The presidency is created by the Constitution. Congress has no power to decide who may and who may not run for president.

Dante Buscayno, Victor Corpus and Ninoy Aquino, shown here listening to their sentencing in 1977, after being found guilty of subversion, murder and illegal possession of firearms. Considered capital offenses, they adjudged to die by firing squad.
The Supreme Court had earlier recognized the jurisdiction of the court martial over them.
Buscayno was later released by President Corazon Aquino and allowed to run for Senator in 1987. Corpus was granted clemency and was commissioned back to the Armed of the Philippines. The Supreme Court allowed Aquino to run for the Batasang Pambansa in 1978. He was assassinated in 1983 but onto death, his crimes were never extinguished.

Call it “Karma” but a ruling allowing BBM to run for president has legal precedent.

After President Ferdinand Marcos put the entire country under martial law in September 1972, then Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., the top political opposition leader back then, was detained at Fort Bonifacio, and charged before a military tribunal.

The jurisdiction of the military tribunal over Ninoy Aquino was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1975. Two years after, the military tribunal sentenced Aquino to death by musketry.

Despite having been convicted of a capital offense, the Comelec and the Supreme Court allowed Aquino to run for a seat in the Interim Batasang Pambansa in 1978.

(His co-convict Bernabe Buscayno alias Kumander Dante, was subsequently released and allowed to run for the Senate in 1987 but lost.)

The DQ petitions invoke a final and executory ruling of the Court of Appeals regarding the failure of BBM to file his income tax returns (ITRs) in 1985. Surely, the failure to file ITRs pales in comparison to what Aquino was convicted of by the military tribunal.

Since the Constitution says sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them, then the Comelec should let the voters decide in their sovereign capacity if they want BBM to be president.

Father Damaso rooting for Robredo

Father Damaso, the villanous friar in Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere, is hardly fictional. Rizal’s infamous, randy Spanish priest who enjoyed political power in his ecclesiastical territory is alive and kicking in the Philippines today. Today’s Father Damaso, however, is no longer a Spaniard but a Filipino. And unlike Rizal’s villain, the contemporary Father Damaso is almost everywhere in the country.

During the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, Spanish friars assigned to the Philippine Islands were rotten to the core. They were foul-mouthed, lewd, lustful and lascivious, and took advantage of the gullible young women in their parishes.

Because the Spanish colonial authorities enforced the union of church and state in the Philippine Islands, those prurient friars wielded nearly absolute political power and immense religious influence in their jurisdictions.

No wonder the Filipino revolutionaries hated them. Rizal made them the villains in his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and Marcelo del Pilar wrote a parody of The Lord’s Prayer where the stealing, cheating and foul language of the Spanish friars are memorialized. Del Pilar’s version is available online.

After Spain lost its colonial hold on the Philippine Islands in 1898, the United States, as the new colonial overseer of the archipelago, institutionalized the separation of church and state. Under the Americans, the likes of Father Damaso and his cohorts, the salacious Father Salvi and the libidinous Father Camorra, among others, in the Philippine Islands lost their power and influence. Those who chose to remain in the Islands were confined to saying masses, and running Catholic schools.

In 1956, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 1425, which mandated the inclusion of Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in the curricula of all public and private schools, colleges and universities. Politicians supported by the Catholic church opposed the bill that initiated Republic Act No. 1425, but they failed.

I remember that during my time in a Jesuit-run Catholic high school, the priests made sure that only their censored versions of Noli and Fili were read by their students. Later on, I also found out that the nuns of Catholic high schools for girls practiced the same kind of censorship.

Father Damaso and his kind reacquired immense political clout when President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino seized power in February 1986. Because Jaime Cardinal Sin, who was then the archbishop of Manila, had a pivotal role in the so-called 1986 EDSA Revolution, Aquino became a virtual lackey of the cardinal. Sin became a regular feature in Aquino’s Malacañang, and a de facto union of church and state was in force in the Philippines.

As a consequence, friars held many government posts under Mrs. Aquino. Friars meddled in legislation and unofficially screened candidates for public office. Even the film censorship body had a friar. I am told that the friar was such a cheapskate that he brought home with him the newspapers in that government office for him to read in his own sweet time.

In 1996, Cardinal Sin told the Catholic faithful not to watch The Priest, a British film about a homosexual man of the cloth, then playing in the cinemas. The cardinal’s ban backfired because the film became a box office sensation in Metro Manila.

During the time of President Gloria Arroyo, Cardinal Sin used hurting language against the film censors chief over the public exhibition of Sutla, a local movie that purportedly had nudity. It turned out that the permit for the film was issued not by Tiongson, but by his predecessor, Armida Siguion-Reyna, when the latter was the censors boss.

Father Damaso and his fellow friars returned to power under President Noynoy Aquino. A member of the religious establishment was Noynoy’s education secretary. At that time, the Department of Education published public school textbooks that had endless factual and grammatical errors.

When President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, the friars lost their power anew. Since then, the friars have been continuously criticizing the President for flimsy and imaginary reasons. Even Aquino’s education secretary publicly campaigned against Duterte’s senatorial candidates in 2019.

It has been almost six years since Father Damaso and his sidekicks lost political power. They want it back.

For the friars, their return to power is possible only if the over-ambitious Leni Robredo is elected president in 2022. That’s because Robredo has not bothered to hide her subservience to the Catholic church because she considers the friars as her supporters.

Suffice it to say that there is no such thing as a Catholic vote. Moreover, Father Damaso et al. do not have any credibility in this day and age.

Robredo is better off without any endorsement from Father Damaso, Father Salvi, Father Camorra and their kind.

WATCH: May bagong Katekismo si Obispo Damaso.

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