Katipunero: a member of the Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng Pilipinas, a revolutionary group of the 1800s; a Filipino who continues to fight unjust and corrupt structures in society.

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Location: Loyola House of Studies, Quezon City, Philippines

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Trial by the People

Preparations are underway for the commencement of a People's Court that will try GMA on charges of cheating in the last elections. And the idea has been welcomed with mixed reactions.

Some say that this exercise will further weaken our already weak democratic institutions - more particularly our legislative and judicial branches. Pushing through with the plan will put to question the decision of the lower house not to transmit the impeachment complaint on the President to the Senate. And rightly so. Those who have closely followed the proceedings can say that much emphasis has been put on the letter of the law rather than its spirit as a convenient way to protect the already embattled president; thus frustrating the desire of many to ferret out the truth.

But then again, a people's court may frustrate future action that respects the constitution. Personally, I do not see anything unsconstitutional with this move. People have the right to express what they think and their judgments on things that affect them. However, they must realize that this extra-contitutional measure will not hold any water. Whatever decision is reached through this court will not change anything except amplify the fury of those who are already against the present government. Whatever findings gathered through this proceeding need to be confirmed by a duly constituted body that has the mandate to validate information. This, unfortunately, the people's court does not enjoy.

So what do we do with this impasse? The People's Tribunal is an alternative alright; but is it the best alternative? If only to bring out the facts of the case and expose arguments and evidence regarding the President's cheating in the last elections, I vote for this alternative. Right now, what is important is that we expose the truth. If this tribunal will effectively do it, then let's go ahead with the trial. But we have to remember that whatever comes out of this may not necessarily change anything in the present government. We must remember that we must also address the other tactics that GMA is using to cloud the issue like the "great debate" on constitutional change.


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