VP Binay warns vs clipping SC powers

Posted at 08/15/14 1:26 PM

MANILA - Vice President Jejomar Binay warned there will be political and constitutional crisis if President Benigno Aquino III pursues his plan of clipping the powers of the judiciary by amending the Constitution.

In a statement on Friday, Binay pointed out that checks and balances are the foundations of democracy.

He said the Supreme Court (SC) just exercised its duty as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution when it declared several acts and practices under the Aquino administration's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

"Those advising the President to pursue a course that will lead to a frontal confrontation with the Supreme Court are bringing our country to the brink of a political and constitutional crisis. They are also putting in peril the President's chance to leave a positive legacy to the people," he said.

"In doing so, they invoke the name of public interest. To blur the delineation between their selfish interest and public interest is dangerous and despotic," he added.

Aquino has said the immense powers of the high court made him rethink his stand on Charter change.

He said the high court seemed to be using its powers to check on other branches of government too often, disrupting the balance between the three branches.

Amending the Constitution can clip those powers, limiting the judiciary's reach on the executive and legislative branches.

According to Binay, as one who fought for freedom and democracy during martial law, he appreciates the powers vested in the SC in the 1987 Constitution.

He said it enshrines the hopes of millions of Filipinos who made the 1986 EDSA Revolution possible for a strong judicial institution as the "best safeguard against dictatorship in whatever form."

"While I respect the views of those who complain of judicial overreach as well as those who believe in lifting presidential term limits, I pray for sober reflection to restrain abrupt political initiatives. We must never allow purely partisan considerations to erode the institutions that guarantee our freedoms," he stressed.

"As a lawyer, I firmly believe that a democracy obligates the three co-equal branches - executive, judiciary and legislature - to respect each one's independence and recognize each one's powers, duties and limitations set by the Constitution. A healthy democracy will benefit the people," he said.

The vice president maintained his opposition to Charter Change, except only on the economic provisions.

"I will continue to oppose political Charter Change not only because of principle but because it will be destabilizing and divisive at the very moment that we need national unity," Binay said.