This spat between the Executive Branch of Philippine Government, opposed to the Chief Justice, with the engagement of the House of Representatives, is delightful. Really good television, excellent for newspaper sales. It is juicy. It stars people we know. It is knock down drag out. People are seriously bent out of shape. It doesn't get much better than this.
Now various organizations are choosing side, backing the judiciary or the President, uttering their punditry. Anger and indignation are ripe across the land.
One offical, whose name skipped past me in yesterday's flood of information on the subject, said, essentially, "This is democracy at work".
Bingo, Brother. Indeed, democracy is not the three separate branches of Government. Democracy is what they do. The laws they pass, the leadership they provide, the arguments they have.
Democracy is a verb, an action. Not an entity. It is not the President. He is a small player on a big stage. It is not the Senate, they are just a bunch of generally fat old well-to-do people from good families seeking to be profound. It is not the highest judges in the land, they are ponderous, professorial people who do their business on a toilet like the rest of us. It is not the House, which is a rabble of popular red-nosed clowns in search of a wildly cheering tent; a former dictator's wife, the son of a former President, a superstar boxer, and a bunch of names that are the same as the streets in Manila. The old people in the House are generally thinner than in the Senate.
My two favorite verbologists are Senator Santiago and Justice Secretary de Lima. Are they sisters, or what?
I like them because they can coin a phrase, and because their thinking usually is profound. It means something. It makes sense. It is refreshing.
Secretary de Lima is being roasted by many for her characterization of Cheap* Justice Corona (* blatantly plagarized from MR) as "a walking constitutional violation". Rather than roasting her, they ought to cheer her. Where else do you get the truth unvarnished, as eloquently put as a nuclear poem.
I've held Senator Santiago in high regard since she declined to join President Arroyo's expensive New York bash, and later characterized it as probably not the best way to spend taxpayer money. True, she did get a tad hysterical in describing the American VFA as a "humiliation, a humiliation!", but she made up for it by chastising the priests who bummed free cars off a government agency.
President Aquino is starting to gain my admiration, too, as being a Man of his own, rather than a puppet for others to yank. His decisions are big-time. Blocking the Arroyos from fleeing the country. Giving the nod to impeachment of the Cheap Justice. Building up a military capability to defend Philippine interests in the West Philippine sea. (I project that American ships will be back a Subic in five years, a smaller force than before, but a nice kick in the pants for the Subic retail trade. Or panties, as the case may be.) His democratic actions are decisive and clear. He just needs to get in the face of the Catholic Church, those pompous robed superiors who never accept responsibility for anything.
The Philippines is acting as a big democratic boy now. It is out in public, in our faces, in plain sight. Not behind the scenes or stabbing in the back with armies and coups and overthrow of the Constitution in the dead of night. It's at the microphone, in the camera, in print black and white, all spokespersons blazing.
This is democracy at its finest.