In a press statement today, Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo of Quezon City says in gist that “Executive Order No. 1 which creates a Truth Commission is a thread from an official policy framework espoused by P-Noy upon his assumption to office. Just like the first State of the Nation Address of the President, all legislative and executive agenda are formed accordingly in rational conformity to that well-founded policy statement. And such policy should prescribe. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court misread the President’s noble intention and found mere legal technicalities than ferret out the truth on a wide range of alleged abuses, graft and corrupt practices of the past government”.
The lawmaker of Quezon City shares the view that it is “quite standard practice in many governments – be it Canada, United States, South Korea, Peru, South Africa, Panama, et cetera”. The member of the House Committee on Justice says that “in all these other country models, they share one thing in common and this is to address if not effectively resolve abuses of the past government”.
The QC solon further adds, “This is why P-Noy thought of signing this Executive Order No. 1 as one of his first official acts as a President owing to a morally compelling ground and this is that he aims to achieve national unity by attending to unresolved issues with dispatch, consistency of purpose, and political will”.
Perhaps, this very Truth Commission that the Supreme Court may have somewhat feared, reason for it to strike down Executive Order No. 1 as unconstitutional may not be the kind of Truth Commission obtaining in other countries, according to the lawmaker. “But even assuming that it is so, still only until the gross violations crystallize as would be reflected in the conduct of its mandate, may the Supreme Court make judge of constitutional infirmities, if any”, Castelo argues.
“We may have no quarrel with the position embraced by the High Court invoking the equal protection clause of the Constitution. But at the very least, it is far better to see a Truth Commission work like a ‘special window of inquiry’ focused on the abuses of the past government without having to cascade farther backwards as to cover issues proper to existing bodies or commissions”, Castelo points out.
According to Castelo, let it be just pointed out as a footnote to history that the creation of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights is likewise on the strength of Executive Order No. 8 signed by then President Corazon Aquino. “In effect, to declare Executive Order No 1 unconstitutional should shake the very foundation upon which the PCHR rests”, Castelo says in a final word. 30