“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.”
–– WINSTON CHURCHILL
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW JERSEY — I find the call of Philippine House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez to investigate the alleged plot by former US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg to oust President Rodrigo Duterte not only funny but OA (over acting).
Alvarez’s call was prompted by a report on December 27 by the Manila Times that Goldberg has allegedly left a “blueprint” on how and why Duterte should be kicked out or a “recommendation to the US State Department for the removal of the Philippine President from office.”
Alvarez was quoted in the news as saying, “If true, this has serious consequences not only on our country’s political stability but also on the economic and social fabric of our nation. It would also have grave repercussions on our relationship with the United States.”
Alvarez added: “In view of this serious allegation I am calling for a congressional investigation to find out if there is basis to this reported ouster plot against President Rodrigo Duterte.”
If true, but how true?
In that news, writer Dr. Dante Ang, publisher of Manila Times, quoted only “a source”.
In fact, the title of the story already revealed everything: “US ex-envoy plotting Duterte fall – source.”
The story did not have direct allusion to any US Embassy official in Manila or Lisbon, Portugal, the news’ dateline. No direct quote from any former or concurrent Goldberg subaltern.
No official statement from the US State Department. Only a source. Ang’s “source” outlined or summed up Goldberg’s alleged “strategic recommendation ostensibly to the State Department for the ultimate removal of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte from office.”
News is news. A source can either be credible or sham. A source can either be true or poisonous. It can be a molehill that became a mountain when translated into straight news.
Not everything that is reported in the newspapers though warrant a congressional investigation. If reporters invoke “sources” in their stories, our legislative body can’t resort to knee-jerk reaction if it finds the media stories “alarming.”
If Alvarez will call for a House probe on the allegation, who will they call as resource speakers? Not the Americans, of course.
Not Dr. Dante Ang. Not the employees of Manila Times.
Ang can never be compelled to reveal his source or sources. The Supreme Court has ruled that any journalist can’t be obligated, compelled, or coerced in any forum to name his sources.
This will shield credible sources “who requested strict anonymity for fear of retribution or retaliation.”
The law also protects journalists from self-incrimination just like the ordinary citizens.
If invited by Alvarez’s House investigation committee, we doubt if Ang will cooperate.
The Americans, as well as those who have no love lost for President Duterte, will only laugh while over-acting Alvarez, et al waste the people’s money in a House investigation that will reveal nothing.
The wisdom of having three branches in a democratic government is to have a check and balance.
This explains why the executive, legislative, and judiciary are co-equal in the government structure.
The president can’t execute any major executive fiat without concurrence from congress. The president have the veto powers if it finds the law passed by congress lacking in substance and inefficient.
If the court finds the acts of the executive and legislative branches to be unlawful, it can always interfere by invoking the legal parameters.
The speaker of the House can be a political sympathizer or ally of the president, but he can’t use his office to act as mouthpiece of the executive body.