tracking cj puno, initiative, pork

suddenly former chief justice reynato puno is all over the place, even making headlines.  ‘Bribery’ voids Corona impeachment — Puno screamed the manila times yesterday.  and i can’t help wondering if he is why the president felt compelled to go on nationwide primetime tv last night.  unfortunately the prez didn’t say anything new.  on social media people talk about having made abang, expecting something huge, something that would halt the fall, change the game, level it up.  alas.  back to the streets it is.

so, does the palace have reason to fear puno’s call for people’s initiative and referendum vs. PDAF, DAP, and all discretionary funds?  the logistics are difficult and complicated but, still, doable, and puno even has a timetable: he will be done drafting the petition sometime this november, and sees the referendum happening in january 2014.  (hmm, alam na kaya ng comelec ito?)  i suppose puno knows what he’s doing, he knows what went wrong with pirma’s chacha attempt via initiative in 1997, and there is every possibility that he might do fvr better.

and there’s the catch.  is puno thinking anti-pork lang or is there a chacha scenario farther on?  oct 8 it was when puno first sounded the call for a people’s initiative to abolish all pork. just eleven days later, oct 19, carmen pedrosa announced in her philstar column that puno had agreed to become the symbol and advocate of “crowdsourcing a new Constitution for a new Philippines.”

alarm bells ringing and all that.  i’ve made no bones about it on this blog, i’m against charter change that seeks (1) to shift us from presidential to parliamentary/federal system and (2) to delete economic provisions that limit foreign ownership of land atbp.  this is not to say that i would not welcome a serious public debate on these two issues via a website that might inspire and inform debates on print, radio, and television.  but i’m not sure that this is the right time for it.  not until the pork issue is settled, how ever long it takes.

besides, puno’s reputation is not all that sterling.  he has some owning-up to do if he hopes to win hearts and minds.  read ‘Unmitigated hypocrisy’ by lawyer democrito c. barcenas and then go back in time to President Puno? and Who’s Hot, and Who’s Not by antonio c. abaya, 2009.  the comment threads are also quite enlightening.


  1. The president went on TV because so many people are twisting DAP into something it is not, and the President’s reputation into something it is not. Only an inveterate critic would wonder why he has to counter such widespread misinformation.

    These old guys are being hauled out of the closet by friends to muddy the water and raise the level of contentiousness, destabilizing things. They are a part of the reason the President spoke.

    • ricelander

      In principle, personally I am for the widest latitude and discretion that could be afforded an executive. Discretion allows speedy action and if used wisely and strategically enables fast execution of projects. But this setup is vulnerable to abuse. Too many restrictions on the other hand can indeed be too limiting but the idea is to temper wastage and abuse.

      Is DAP a good template then? Try to imagine that this scheme is set up under the presidency of someone you think is ultra-corrupt.

      There must be a middle ground.

      • Good question. It seems to me DAP is a good template given a Freedom of Information Act. I think a corrupt President could do a lot of bad deeds no matter what the arrangement is if he had the financial people in his pocket. The trick there is not to elect such a person.

        I don’t see how we can expect a strong Philippines with a weak Office of the President. The nation needs to EXECUTE a lot of good deeds, as President Aquino has done.

        • ricelander

          For the most part I agree with you. I am for a strong presidency, even with PNoy at the helm who I do not like. But we have a Constitution that was built in reaction to Marcos. It weakened the Presidency, strengthened the SC, also paved the way for NGOs, party-list representation, all sort of noble intentioned “democratic” ideas that could easily be, as it is turning out, hijacked by other interests.

          The trick indeed is to elect a good President, but who decides who is good President? The people through elections or some self-appointed cabal through some scheme like tinkering with election results?

          • Yes, well you are getting to the heart of it now. Democracy is premised on an educated public and a fair set of rules guiding elections. The political process works like crazy to push the limits of the rules, and if there is a way to advantage, politicians will find it. Rules require enforcement (no vote buying). Binay is a very skilled politician. Exceptional. Probably the best in the Philippines. The public is educated at a very simple and easily influenced level. There is a reality to all that.

          • ricelander

            Binay is an interesting subject. All the signs of massive corruption are there but big loud voices against corruption like Rene Saguisag or Conrado de Quiroz are, surprise, supportive of a Binay presidency and I believe so does a good portion of the Yellows. I believe his massive popularity is owed mostly from the initial endorsement of Erap and Escudero and the secret endorsement of Aquino sisters, and the general absence of dis-endorsement coming from PNoy.

          • @Ricelander. Agree. A lot of influential people like the guy, which suggests that his alleged enrichment as mayor (pieces of the RE projects) is considered by them to be a natural part of favor trading by the in-crowd. That’s what it looks like from here . . . but I’ve been wrong before. :)

          • nakalimutan ko na ito. thanks, baycas. off-topic but heck, hindi pa rin siya nalilibing no? so the marcoses have given up on libingan ng mga bayani. ang habol na lang nila ay full military honors as a former soldier, at dito sumabit? anong sey ng presidente? no to full military honors sa burial? hmm. major major concession by the marcoses yung di na sa libingan ng bayani. i would concede in turn to the full military honors, which is just a ritual, and those against it can go on record as against it, so historians are clear about the context. but it would be good for marcos to be finally buried, six feet under where he belongs. that’s one less unhappy ghost haunting us.

          • ricelander

            Binay is courting the Ilocano voters, that is all. As far as I know, the children do not care much about rituals but the Imeldific want heroes burial no less. The Ilocanos would rather have him there in Ilocos Norte but the Imeldific wants drama…

          • @angela, rice

            i agree with military honors. i think the phrase “partisan conflict” could be underselling it, but i agree with the spirit of binay’s remarks.

  2. What i love this debate is that it a cut above the usual corruption story. This is a question on the limits of the executive; a topic we can all have opinions on, and we can all have valid arguments.

    I also loved the fact that pnoy bothered to explain the admin’s side on this. the admin SHOULD explain more about what its been doing, its mindset, etc.

  3. Reduce PNoy’s political capital into nothing…Make him a lame duck this early…that’s the agenda…

    Magnanakaws ensuring a retention of power.

    Magnanakaws ensuring a return to power.

  4. manuel buencamino

    I wouldn’t trust that Puno as far as I can throw him. Did he do anything about corruption in the courts, specially among his fellow justices, when he was the Chief Justice? Did he make the Judiciary Development Fund transparent during his term as Chief Justice? What did he do when he had the power to make changes? Ngayon magmamalinis siya at makikialam? Pweh!

  5. manuel buencamino

    The president made that speech because he wanted to remind the public that the issue first and foremost is stealing. He noticed that the conversation has been about everything but the stealing. He appealed to the people not to fall for the distraction campaign being waged by those who were caught and by those who saw the issue as a means in their quest for power.

    The president did not make a speech because of retired CJ Puno’s initiative. Ano ang initiative niya eh ni hindi pa niya kina-claro yun batas na gusto niya? Write out the law first then present it to the people. Ano ang paguusapan kung wala pang nakasulat na proposed law? Si Puno lang ang paguusapan sa ngayon. Maybe that’s what he wants, diba? Hindi ba ninyo mabasa ang agenda ng matandang yan?

  6. STONES. Puno ng ‘stones’.

    Match the numbered quotes to the lettered names.

    1. In all the things I’ve gone through as a politician, I have seen that in this system it is really very difficult to make any headway without being somehow tainted. And let me say, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    2. “Kung sino mang walang bahid ng kasalanan kayo ang unang bumato sa taong ito…. ‘Wag kayong magmalinis, ‘wag masyadong ipokrito.” (Whoever has not sinned then you cast the first stone at this man. Don’t be holier than thou, don’t be hypocrites.)

    3. In a press briefing, ___________ said that a stone in ____________’s gallbladder prompted his blood pressure to rise.


    4. “I said we will leave no stones unturned until we get to the truth. Itong si ____________ is not a stone. She is a boulder. Ba’t hindi natin ginagalaw? Hindi pwede ‘yon,” he said.

    5. Doctors there said ____________ was suffering from stones in her ureter.

    6. Sa hinaba-haba ng mga kontra-paratang na ibinabato sa atin, ni minsan, hindi ko narinig ang katagang at statement na “Hindi ako nagnakaw.”

    7. “Panibagong kabanata yang ating haharapin so tingnan natin.” The ____________ said nothing has been set in stone since the next election is still 3 years away.


    8. As your elected legislators, we will see to it that no stone will be left unturned in enacting policy changes that will guarantee that this multi-billion pesos scam will never ever happen again.

    9. In a demonstration of how the human spirit can literally rise from the rubble, former Rep. ____________ took the opportunity to commission the University of the Philippines School of Architecture to rebuild the massive stone houses that were strong enough to withstand typhoons—but not earthquakes.

    10. I don’t know if ____________ has gotten wind of this case in Bato, Camarines Sur since Bato town is but a stone’s throw from her homeplace of Iriga City.


    A. Bong Revilla
    B. Butch Abad
    C. Frank Drilon
    D. Gloria Arroyo
    E. Janet Napoles
    F. Jinggoy Estrada
    G. Juan Ponce Enrile
    H. Leila de Lima
    I. Noynoy Aquino
    J. TG Guingona

  7. so, can someone explain what the problem with DAP is anyways? arguments against it? the only argument i’ve read is by the lawyers that say that coursing it through the legislative is wrong.

    but that isnt a direct crticism of the practice. what is wrong with it, such that the benefits are defeated?

  8. manuel buencamino

    Excerpt from the column of Rene Saguisag:

    People’s Initiative of CJ Rey Puno is not the only remarkable position he has taken. In 2010, there was talk of his being active in junta discussion. Now he questions Rene Corona’s conviction by the people through the national inquest of impeachment, a political process, with the people acting through their duly-elected representatives. Bribery in this country is Kaliwaan not some pie in the sky or distant oil well to be enjoyed long after the fact. Rene tried to join the Million March of about 80,000 and was booed out of it.

    CJ Puno cannot now rattle the bones of a skeleton from which all semblance of life has long departed.

    Unconstitutionally inflicted by GMA, constitutionally removed by the people, Rene was.

  9. manuel buencamino

    From the same column:

    “A People’s Initiative (PI) on pork barrel? This I have to see.

    Such an initiative may be possible doing away with term limits and legalizing marijuana. Single issue. But even now, I would like to see how the question is framed on pork barrel. And how much is the exercise going to cost?

    People’s Initiatives may be practical in a State of the Union in the U.S. or in a canton in Switzerland but in a country of a hundred million, permit me to doubt. So the elected cannot be trusted. In the proposed PI, who will be the unelected who will decide, retired Chief Justices or generals, or the unelected Supreme Court, a Milliard-Marchers, NGOs, academics, columnists with conflicting opinions, et al..

    So in condemning an institutional arrangement as a rotten egg, who can lay a better one? Our 1987-92 Senate did not abuse, nor our predecessors. As a teenager during the time of Prez Magsaysay, it was a good time to be alive.

    Then the Marcoses came and nearly ruined all our values, institutions and processes, which the Arroyos nearly completed. Then we elected a non-lying, non-cheating and non-stealing Prez, and hope came back. Blasted as a lightweight, now PNoy’s hit as a dictator.”

    • i would totally sign on to what oscar is selling. as he says, DAP itself is OK — its specific processes that are in question.

      I hope, and he does, that DBM would rebut the more specific accusations.

      this is where the debate ought to be — in specifics. But you have some critics would dont traffic in specifics at all, and prefer to paint in broad strokes to simplify the argument. Against these dude, you have no choice but to pain in broad strokes too.