The Neri decision is out! And another democratic institution succumbed, in the context of the present political crisis, to the deadly disease of constitutional neuterism. Its 9-6 majority decision favored extending executive privilege to Secretary Romy Neri on crucial presidential conversations regarding GMA’s role in the ZTE-NBN scandal. This not only set a bad precedent in possible presidential criminal cases (which, I think, is the real issue) but also removed the Supreme Court from the position of swiftly settling the political crisis ravaging all the other affected constitutional bodies.
The Supreme court decision further burdened the people with the responsibility of exercising sovereign direct democratic action in settling the political crisis. All the other power institutions have failed or are failing in enforcing the majority people’s will expressed time and again in surveys, street actions, and other fora of direct democracy.
People power is on the march but it will have to spread and broaden among the people even as it develops its leaders and constituency. It will not be a simple rally in EDSA or Makati but more of the same mobilization process reminiscent of the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship.
Given the required time for mobilization of the people, we are facing the real possibility of an extended political crisis in the coming months and years. The 2010 elections–far from a benign and normal democratic exercise–may be held within the context of tumultuous constitutional or extra-constitutional challenges. This may include attempts to force a constitutional change process designed to extend the power of the President, electoral machinations to have a pro-GMA presidential successor, desperate opposition moves to unseat the president, and a general political polarization.
The bottom line in all of these is the incapability of a grievously unpopular president to govern the country amidst the crises in the economy, people’s welfare, and politics of the nation. The people will ultimately prevail, barring various permutations of a shortcut by the contending political forces. However, at the moment, it is the Supreme Court that has the ball–and it lost it.