Once there was a Marcos Supreme Court. It decided that the 1973 constitution was in force and effect after Marcos, under martial law conditions, used the so-called “citizens assemblies” to force the “ratification” of the “Marcos constitution.” Until now, this Marcos court is reviled by the people as they carried out and won the battle to bring down the Marcos dictatorship.
It is timely to cite this historical tidbit in order to appreciate the serious implications of the SC decision on the Neri case. It is also timely to bring up because of the bare possibility that this Supreme Court will step back from the brink of the political precipice and seriously consider modifying–if not outrightly reversing–the Neri decision.
The SC decision on Neri and executive privilege has implications beyond the simple question of preventing the seeking of truth in the ZTE-NBN deal. It has implications on constitutionally-guaranteed right to information, the principle of accountability of public officials, and the system of check and balance in a democracy. Further down the line, it has possible implications on the continued viability of democratic institutions, on the continued existence of post-Marcos democracy and the preservation of the gains of the people’s struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, and the polarization of political forces along the pro- and anti-GMA alignment.
I do not think this is already a GMA court but the ground has been laid with the Neri decision. At one stroke, the Supreme court has brought a constitutional crisis to a probable reality, with the crisis of Philippine democracy not far behind.