Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Testing the waters: Limiting Executive Power

Seems like these two incidents---the raising of fuel prices by the Big Three Monsters, err, Oil firms and the recent spate of criminal activities are incidents that directly test the limits of Executive Power being exercised by Malacanang. There are some who argue that Malacanang is behaving like a lame duck. Or, more accurately, (and to at least raise the bar of expectations) an eagle with its wings clipped.

For example, Energy secretary Angelo Reyes is going around town like he's the head of an oil firm consortium, defending the actions of these foreign oil companies as their spokesperson. First time that a state's energy head acts and behaves contrary to the government's interest of protecting consumer rights. Government is supposed to speak for and on behalf of the people against predatory acts committed by companies.

IN other countries, Reyes' actions would have merited a reprimand from the Chief Executive. That would have sent a clear message to everyone that Mrs. Arroyo is still in control of government. But, no clear sign from the president, which only shows that despite Mrs. Arroyo's public pronouncements and posturings, no clear policy against these oil giants is being pursued in an honest way. Clearly, this shows that Malacanang, under Mrs. Arroyo, is tolerating the unpatriotic acts of these oil giants.

Raising oil prices during a time of national crisis is not only unpatriotic---it violates clearly the provisions of a penal provision against economic sabotage. Mrs. Arroyo is correct when she intervened; yet her intervention is wanting in concrete actions. What is she afraid of?

Likewise, resolving a spate of criminal acts, with the most recent, the robbery which took place in the house of Mandaluyong Congressman Gonzales is clearly a matter of national concern. The Greenbelt 5 incident is deeper and more linked to national security than what the NCRPO thinks it was. The police is downplaying the incident just to protect the hide of the head of the Makati police and even the gauntlet out of Supt. Roberto Rosales' head. In other states, such incidents would have merited the resignation of the top cop.

The Greenbelt 5 incident shows how vulnerable our shopping malls are against terror attacks. If a "petty" criminal gang such as the Alvin Flores robbery syndicate can penetrate a secured place like Greenbelt, what prevents them from attacking poorly secured retail establishments such as stand-alone outlets of jewelry stores? This gang just humiliated the entire Philippine security establishment with their fake guns and fake uniforms.

It goes without saying that indeed, the situation is nothing short of confusing, especially to those who expect government to do its job well.