(Also Published in Far Eastern Law Review, Volume XLIV, December 2013, FEU Publishing)
2. The City-State
3. The Government
4. Executive Department
a. The Office of the Pope
b. Election of Pope
c. Powers of the Pope
d. Doctrine of Papal Authority
5. Legislative Department
6. Judicial Department
7. International Relations
The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.
The Pope, in a time proof-fabric,
was the keystone of the arch.
- Maurice Andrieux
In February 28, 2013, then-Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would step down from the papacy due to his advanced age (L’Osservatore Romano, 2013). He was the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415 (Saunders, 2005), and the first to resign on his own initiative since Celestine V in 1294 (Alpert, 2013).
In the wake of Benedict XVI’s resignation, the papal conclave was convened in order to elect the Vatican’s – and the Roman Catholic Church’s – new leader. On March 13, the whole world watched in anticipation as the conclave elected Argentina’s Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope, who then selected the name Francis (RTE News, 2013). Not only the solemn and arduous process of electing a Pope, which was last witnessed in 2005, was once more put to the fore, but also the intricacies of Vatican’s monarchical government, which is unique in this day and age.
The Vatican government holds a number of contradictory elements such as the presence of all the trappings of an aristocratic republic. It does have, after all, a sovereign pontiff, elected by the cardinals of the Sacred College who then surrender every right of counsel and control into the hands of the leader they have chosen from among themselves (Andrieux, 1968).
The Vatican and what moves its affairs and conduct, both within and beyond its walls, has captured the interests and imaginations of many, leading the city-state to be as much of a mystery as those which the Church holds sacred. This article gives us a glimpse of the unfamiliar government that is the Vatican City-state.
Vatican City, with its land area of only about 100 acres (approx. 0.2 square miles) and its 1,740-strong bureaucracy, is widely known as “the smallest state in the world” (Rome.info, 2003), both as to land area and population. In spite of its size, the Vatican is nevertheless dubbed as one of the most controversial and powerful entities in the world. It helped the Western Bloc in the Cold War and has always taken a leading role at international conferences. It has diplomatic ties with dozens of countries ranging from the United States and most of Central and Eastern Europe to Israel and Jordan. Vatican City is the administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church, which has nearly one billion people rallying under its banner (World & I, p. 20).
It was not always this way, however. There was a time when the Holy See held sway over a much larger territory. From c. 500 until 1870, a period spanning more than a thousand years, the popes – or, perhaps more appropriately, the Holy See – have long ruled over a large segment of the Italian peninsula known as the Papal States. The rationale was always the same back then as it is now: the popes had to be independent of any temporal government.
With the unification of Italy in 1870, the papacy’s temporal power was abolished by the new Italian state. Many saw it as a fortunate development that relieved the church of the distracting problems and responsibility of trying to govern a large state. The pope at that time, Pope Pius IX, nevertheless insisted that the head of the Catholic Church still needs “a small corner of the earth where (he is) master... [s]o long as (he) do(es) not have this little corner of earth, (he) shall not be able to exercise in their fullness (his) spiritual functions.” After being despoiled of the Papal States, Pius IX and his successors “retreated” into the Vatican. The Italian government found it expedient to leave the pope alone (Whitehead, 1997).
It turned out that the Catholic Church never quite recognized the arrangement; subsequent popes felt that they were but "prisoners" in the Vatican (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2012). These woes were put to an amicable end by the Lateran Treaty, a concordat between Italy and the Holy See which recognized the sovereignty of the latter in the state of Vatican City (Lateran Treaty, Art. 3). Thus, in 1929, Vatican City as the world now knows it was born.
In the case of The Holy See vs. Rosario (G.R. No. 1011949, December 1, 1994), the Supreme Court of the Philippines through the pen of Justice Camilo D. Quiason has noted that a number of commentators on international law are of the view that the Lateran Treaty which established the statehood of Vatican City in fact created two international persons: the Holy See and the Vatican City-state. This is partly correct, for only the entity called “the Vatican City-state” was created by the Lateran Treaty in 1929. The Holy See predates the Vatican by a considerable span of time, and has long been recognized just as much a political force by the rest of the civilized world as it is an ecclesiastical one. Nevertheless, both entities can be aptly described as sui generis in their own rights.
The Holy See is the Diocese of Rome, with the Pope as its bishop, which comprises the Roman Catholic Church's central governing body. The Holy See, through its administrative arm known as the Roman Curia, is empowered by canon law to speak on behalf of the entire Church in diplomatic matters (Code of Canon Law, Canons 360-361). Even though the Holy See fails to fulfill the four essential requisites for an entity to be deemed a state, the family of nations has long recognized it as possessed of full legal personality (Araujo and Lucal, 2004, p. 16).
The Vatican City-state is the entity governing the territory of Vatican City. It possesses its own distinct personality under international law and, as such, can enter into international agreements on its own. However, it is the Holy See which internationally represents the Vatican City-state, and in turn, the Catholic Church itself (Holy See Mission, 2002).
The Vatican currently houses the only absolute monarchy in the entire continent of Europe: the papacy (Catholic-pages, 2007). The Vatican is in essence a monarchical-sacerdotal state: the Pope is the "monarch", the sovereign head of state, and senior members of the church hierarchy, all appointed by the Pope, act as the governing body (Encyclopedia of the Nations, 2013).As with other monarchies, the Pope exercises his vast powers through the different organs which act on his behalf and in his name.
The Pope has supreme executive, legislative, and judicial powers over both the Vatican and the Church, although said powers are exercised by other entities within the city-state. Legislative power is vested in the so-called Pontifical Commission, a body of cardinals appointed by the Pope for a five-year period. Executive power is in the hands of the President of the Pontifical Commission, assisted by the General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary. Foreign relations are entrusted to the Secretariat of State of the Holy See and diplomatic service.
The Office of the Pope is ex-officio sovereign of the Vatican City State. The Pope delegates executive powers to the President of the Pontifical Commission who, in this context, assumes the title of “President of the Governorate” (Vatican City website, 2013) The President is appointed by the Pope for a five-year term, with the latter reserving the right to remove the former at any time; otherwise, the term of the President ends during a Sede Vacante, or the period after the death or resignation of the Pope. However, the holder of the title president prior to the death or resignation of the Pope becomes a member of a commission, with the former Cardinal Secretary of the State and the Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, that handles some of the functions of the head of state until a new Pope is chosen by the papal conclave (Pope John Paul II, 1996).
The Office of the Pope
The Pope being the absolute master of men and their possessions, exercises a searching, yet mild and gentle despotism over his worldly realm. The traditional home of the Pope had been the Vatican, the great complex, born so magnificently of the whims of twenty pontiffs, with nothing of its size and kind to match it in the world. (Andrieux, 1968)
There was no more absolute sovereign than the Pope. His authority was limitless. In his person he united temporal power over the States of the Church and the spiritual power throughout the Catholic world, and so his wish was law, both secular and religious. (Andrieux, 1968)
Election of Pope
By virtue of Canon 335 of the Code of Canon Law which mandates popes to update laws governing what is to be done when there are vacancies in the Holy See, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Constitution entitled Universi Dominici Gregis (Of the Lord's Whole Flock) in 1996.Universi Dominici Gregis provides the following rules of procedure for papal elections:
1. When an incumbent pope dies or resigns, the Cardinal Camerlengo acts as the temporary administrator of the Apostolic See. Upon obtaining information that the pope has died or has resigned, the Dean of the Sacred College shall inform all Cardinals and convoke them. Only those Cardinals who are not yet 80 years old by the time of Sede Vacante will be able to take part in the papal elections, and the maximum number of Cardinal-electors shall be 120.
2. During a Sede Vacante, the Sacred College of Cardinals is tasked with governing the church and preparing for the papal elections.
3. Once in the Vatican, the Cardinal-electors will have to wait for fifteen days for those who are, as of yet, absent.Once twenty days have elapsed, conclave pushes through with or without the absent Cardinals. If a Cardinal arrives while conclave is underway, they are allowed to take part in the election at the stage which it has reached.
4. Conclave is commenced and conducted within the walls of the Sistine Chapel, in total secrecy. Anyone unwise enough to violate the secrecy of conclave by whatever means are excommunicated.
5. Two or three ballots are given to each Cardinal-elector. The ballot contains in its upper half the words "Eligo in summum Pontificem (I choose as supreme pontiff)", and in its lower half, a space for writing a name. After writing one name on the ballot, the Cardinal-elector will fold the ballot twice.
6. Each Cardinal-elector, in order of preference, holds up his ballot and carries it to the altar. The cardinal recites an oath, “I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected”, and then drops the ballot to a receptacle in the altar.
7. Once all the Cardinal-electors have cast their ballots, the receptacle is shaken several times, and then, all the ballots are taken out and placed in another receptacle. If the total number of ballots does not correspond with the number of Cardinal-electors, the ballots are burned and another vote is taken at once. Black smoke would then be seen rising up the Sistine Chapel’s chimney.
8. If the total number of ballots corresponds with the number of Cardinal-electors, the ballots are thus opened.
9. The total number of votes is added up. If no one has obtained the requisite two-thirds vote, the Cardinal-electors vote again, with the previously used ballots being burned. Black smoke would likewise be seen rising up the Sistine Chapel’s chimney in this case.
10. If someone has received two-thirds of the votes, white smoke would then be seen from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. The Catholic Church has chosen its new leader.
The Doctrine on Papal Authority
Here is the summary of the doctrine promulgated by the Vatican concerning the Papal authority in the de Ecclesia Christi, the Constitution of the Church of Christ, Session IV, 18 July 1870:
1. The Pope is the head of all the Church, the father and teacher of all Christians: Jesus Christ has entrusted to him full power to govern the Universal Church.
2. His power is immediate and binds all, pastors and laymen, to hierarchical subordination and to true obedience as regards faith and behavior, discipline and the government of the Church, with the object of maintaining unity of communion and of profession of faith.
3. His power, far from being prejudicial to the ordinary and immediate jurisdiction of bishops, recognizes and confirms their authority.
4. From this primary arises the right to freely correspond with the pastors and faithful, to instruct them and direct them; no human power can justly oppose this right, or subject to the approval of the state the execution of measures prescribed by the Holy See.
5. As head of the Church, the Pope is also sovereign judge in ecclesiastical matters; all may appeal to him and none can revise or annul his judgment (de Ragnau, 1913).
Powers of the Pope
As bishop of the Holy See and head of the Catholic Church, the Pope carries the duty of presiding over every aspect of the Church – both as an institution and as a body comprised of the world’s Catholics. In order to fulfill this duty, the Pope is necessarily vested with the following powers:
1. By virtue of being the supreme teacher of the Church, the Pope is possessed of the power to lay down what is to be believed by the Catholic faithful. Instances of this power in action are when the Pope sets forth creeds as explicit professions of faith, prescribes books for religious instruction and prohibits publications injurious to faith and morals, directs Catholic missions worldwide, and interprets the natural law, among others.
2. The Pope may prescribe the means by which worship is made. Within this power lies the pope’s authority to canonize a saint, to introduce a new liturgical service or to change the existing rite, and to dispense the Church's treasury.
3. The Pope can legislate for the whole Church, with or without the help of a general council, and has full authority to interpret, revise, and abrogate both his own legislation and those enacted by his predecessors.
4. The Pope wields supreme judicial authority over the Catholic faithful, such power bound to no earthly superior, with its basis in Jesus’ words to Peter, viz.: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)
5. The Pope exercises appointing power over all public offices of the church, including bishoprics and dioceses. As with other instances of the power to appoint wielded in other states, such power as used by the Pope also necessarily carries the authority to accept resignation and the power to fire for cause. Related to this is the Pope’s power to approve new religious orders.
6. The Pope is empowered to alienate church lands when there is just cause for such alienation.
7. Lastly, the Pope has the right to tax the clergy and the faithful for ecclesiastical purposes (Joyce, 1911).
The Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State is a unicameral body appointed by the Pope and operates as the legislature, proposing laws and policies to the Pope (Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, Art. 3, Sec. 1). Before laws and policies take effect, they must be approved by the Pope, through the Secretariat of State (Ibid., Art. 4, Sec. 3), and be published in the Italian- language supplement of Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Acts of the Apostolic See), the official gazette of the Holy See (1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 9).
The Vatican City State has a distinct legal system from that of its neighboring state, the Government of Italy. Nonetheless, the Vatican may request that a serious crime be tried in the Italian Judicial System (Nadeu, 2012).
The Judicial System of Vatican consists of:
• A sole judge (Giudice Unico)with limited jurisdiction
• A tribunal (tribunale) with four (4) members
• A Court of Appeal (Corte d’Appello) with four (4) members
• A Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) with three (3) members (Dalla Torre,2009)
The sole judge has to be a citizen of the Vatican City and he can at the same time serve as a member of the tribunal. The tribunal itself consists of a president and three other judges (however, cases are heard in a curia of three judges). A promoter of justice (Promotore di Giustizia) serves as attorney both at the tribunal and at the court of the sole judge. The members of the tribunal, the sole judge and the promoter of justice are all lay jurists and are appointed by the pope.
The Court of Appeal consists of the president and three other judges (similar to the tribunal, cases are heard in a curia of three judges). The members of the Court of Appeal, both clerics and lay persons, are appointed by the Pope for a term of five years.
The Supreme Court consists of its president, who is by law the Cardinal Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and two other cardinals, who are appointed by the president on a yearly basis and also have to be member of the Signatura. The Signatura is the highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church (apart from the Pope himself, who as the supreme ecclesiastical judge is the final point of appeal for any ecclesiastical judgment) (Code of Canon Law, Canon 1442).
All courts have their seat at the Palazzo del Tribunale at Piazza Santa Marta behind Saint Peter's Basilica. Justice is exercised in the name of the Supreme Pontiff which is the Pope.
Andrieux (1969), made criticisms on how the criminal justice in Vatican is being carried out by the government, he said it in this wise:
There were so many branches and the distribution of responsibility was so tangled, that a man might come before several courts on the same charge.... It was always possible, too, to be pardoned by one court, or by several, and still be kept indefinitely in prison.
There was no penal code, only a very contradictory collection of bandi, or decrees, as issued by the Secretaries of State.
The Vatican has a special cell for short-term incarceration (Nadeau, 2012) but it has no facility for long-term incarcerations because it has no prison system (Spiegel Online, 2007). People convicted of committing crimes in the Vatican serve terms in Italian prisons (Polizia Penitenziaria), with costs covered by the Vatican (Spiegel Online, 2007).
Since the end of the Cold War, the Vatican has been engaged in a very different type of political battle. Such began at the 1994 UN Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and continued at the UN Conference on Women in Beijing (Royal, 1997). The Vatican has been adamant in espousing and protecting morality before a world that sees such values as irrelevant, gaining support from pro-life and religious organizations in the process. Some states consider this stance one in poor form, as was the case in the Cairo Conference where other delegates expressed exasperation at the Vatican’s stand of “the primacy of parental rights over adolescents in access to reproductive health care and services” (Kissling, 1999).
Today, the Holy See maintains active participation in the following international organizations: the Council of Europe (as observer), the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Interpol, the International Organization for Migration, the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, the International Telecommunication Union, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Organization of American States (as observer), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Schengen Convention (as de facto member), the United Nations (as observer), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Union Latina (as observer), the World Tourism Organization (as observer), the Universal Postal Union, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the World Trade Organization (as observer) (CIA, 2013).
The Holy See also maintains the so-called “nunciatures” for purposes of fostering diplomatic relations with other states, being in constant contact with local churches, and facilitating dialogue with civil authorities, especially regarding freedom of religion and conscience. The Holy See is engaged in diplomatic relations with the governments of 174 states, the most recent state to have forged ties with it being Djibouti (Sodano, 2001).
The Vatican’s importance thus lies in the fact that it is the small independent territory where the Pope resides and from which he teaches rules and sanctifies as the “earthly” head of the Catholic Church. It is the geographical base of the Holy See, the Pope’s Church as Bishop of Rome. This very small plot of land came to be recognized as independent and in the political sense because the popes have always insisted that the head of the Catholic Church can never be subject to any temporal ruler or government. It would be a serious mistake, however, to think of the Vatican only in terms of political power or finances or of the efficient administration of church’s business. The fact that it is small, independent state is perhaps the least important thing about Vatican. All these factors enter in, of course, because Christendom remains very much influential in the world.
Still the Catholic Church is primarily concerned with the business of saving souls; the church claims to speak and act for their master Jesus Christ, no less. Much of what goes on inside the Vatican, therefore, as well as how the Vatican relates to the world at large remains inseparable from its teaching and spiritual missions aiming at the sanctification and salvation of men and women as what their doctrine professes.
1983 Code of Canon Law
Alpert, Emily (2013). Scandal, Speculation Around Past Popes Who Resigned. Los Angeles Times, www.latimes.com. 11 February 2013, Retrieved 4 June 2013
Andrieux, Maurice (1968). Daily Life in Papal Rome in the Eighteenth Century. The MacMillan Company.
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“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men” - John Emerich Edward Dahlberg Acton
While I may not believe on the veracity of the abovementioned quote from the great moralist and historian, nevertheless it is worthy of highlight on the issue of the Banyan Gate Incident which involved the Makati Mayor, Junjun Binay.
Here in the Philippines, all people are equal in the eyes of the law. It’s just that some families are more equal than others. Thanks to modern technology, the Binays have exemplified this before the lens of a closed circuit television (CCTV).
Three security guards at the Banyan Street Gate of the Dasmarinas Village in Makati were arrested by the men of the Mayor. Their crime? Doing their job.
It was past 10:00PM, and the Banyan Gate is supposed to be closed for all vehicles, Mayor Binay thinks otherwise. With the power that he has, he expects any gate in Makati to be open for him. As can be gleaned in the video footage, commotion did happen, guns were cocked, and poor security personell were arrested.
On their defense, the Makati Mayor in an interview denied any malice or any power tripping on his part. Joey Salgado, the public information officer of Makati City said that no arrests were made and that the security guards “voluntarily” went to the police station. Salgado said the news reports misquoted the mayor who actually said “Si Mayor Binay ako. Baka pwedeng makiraan lang. [I am Mayor Binay, may I pass?]” Salgado said Binay did this after the guards refused to believe that it was the the mayor’s convoy.
Salgado admitted that Binay did call the Makati police not to force their way in but to lessen tension between the Binay’s personell and the village guards.
Now, if you will ask me, that is one heck of a story.
The CCTV footage of the incident is posted online. Check for yourself and decide whether to believe the official statement from the City of Makati.
Their version of the story is highly opposed to logical thinking, ergo, incredible and is not worthy of belief. Anyone will not voluntarily go with armed men, logic dictates that they were forced to come with the police because they were armed. It is not rocket science to drive into such a conclusion. And FYI to Mr. Salgado the public information officer, it is wrong to say that there was no arrest that happened.
If you will ask me, I am clearly opposed to their words of defense. In fact I am categorically stating here that the Honorable Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Sombillo Binay is a straight faced liar. His sister, the Honorable Lady Senator Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Sombillo Binay is also a straight faced liar. She was one of the passengers of the Mayor’s convoy that fateful night, surely she knows what really transpired. Yet, she’s saying it did not happen. Woe to the both of you and may the God of Truth serve His justice upon you two.
As regards their father, the Honorable Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, let me give him my benefit of doubt. He was not there, and I also expect him to act as a loving father to his favorite son. He is spared in being called a straight faced liar on this essay, yet let me clarify here that I am merely reffering to the Banyan Gate Incident, because as regards his politics, i am not much of a fan.
In the novel "Animal Farm", author George Orwell has shown us that no matter how hard in society we try, equality will never truly be reached by mankind for the reason that, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely!," yet, with due respect to the novel and its revered author, i refuse to believe such.
It is humbly opined that evil prevails because power is given to the wrong hands. Most filipinos fail to remember that the power reside in them and not to the chosen few.
What are we in power for? Are we called “boss” by no less than the President himself only to be under the mercy of these power tripping politicians? Did the Constitution vested sovereignty on us only to be ruled by thieves and liars? Did our freedom heroes died in vain?
Let the Banyan Gate Incident be an eye-opener for every Filipino that power trippers should not be given any chunk of power. And may the people realize, that liars deserve hell and not a public post.
It is my prayer that no liars will win any election. For they do not deserve any trust from the Filipino people. May shame visit their hearts.
To the Binays, We the Sovereign Filipino People is watching your family very closely.
by Manuel A. Rodriguez II
Why am I studying? For who I am sacrificing? Partly, it was that blind belief that my parents have instilled on my mind since I was a kid. Now that I am a grown-up I realized that what was instilled on me by my parents is a blind belief in learning upon which they both had placed such reliance.
Please do not get me wrong, blind belief as it may be, but it did helped me anyway in earning a Bachelor of Arts degree back in 2009 and I thank them for that and their support.
Studying, besides being a vague struggle to escape my unwanted inheritance (poverty), which is also the inheritance of many Filipinos, it was a manifestation of a fact that exists among our fellowmen, in which accomplishment becomes a fetish.
We Filipinos have been for so long under the control of foreign powers, who look down on us from what they deem to be their pretentious standards, that our own barely audible aspirations have been strained to search for any outlet no matter what. It did not matter that our knowledge, once acquired, would be exhausted in a cramped, repressed, unproductive society.
The degree was the thing; the honor was the objective; it lifted the Filipino of the past above the sweaty mass. The educated ones are the ones with better job and more money. Education is a fetish indeed.
And yet, FETISH WAS NOT MY PURPOSE.
Before, I wanted to be a doctor. When I was in kindergarten I was inspired by then Secretary of the Department of Health who visited our school and promoted a government health program for the young like me. I and my classmates made him a thank you card because we enjoyed his visit on our school. I will never forget that man; his name is Doctor Juan Flavier.
Dr. Flavier became a senator years later after serving in DOH. Senator Flavier is now retired on public service and yet his visit on my kindergarten more than a decade ago is still very vivid in my memory. I once said to myself that I wanted to be a doctor like Doctor Juan is.
Primarily, I was interested in pediatric medicine, to save the young. My grandmother whom we are fond of calling “Nanay” told me stories from the barrios during the Japanese wartime. There she said, the people died without tasting a single medicine, died gradually, and with suffering. The “albularyos” were the tenet, muttering magic words over cancers, tuberculosis and beri-beri.
In the barrios according to my Nanay if a child died the people bowed and said: “It is the will of God,” as they had been taught by their parish. Even as a child listening to my Nanay, It was never my will to accept it that way.
Then years later, after realizing that the field of medicine is not for me, I thought of studying law. I would be a lawyer for the people particularly for the rural poor (those similarly situated with the wartime barrio people my Nanay told me). I would defend the people with all my honesty. I will the use law to their advantage and be not like the corrupt politicians who are currently in office.
During election time I listen to the candidates. Every election whether national or barangay level it was the same. “The people this, the people that.” After campaign, the word “people” was stricken from the vocabularies of the winners, who sat on their polished chairs and collected both graft and salary, equally, with both hands, form the people.
The men I admired as I grew older were all simple men who had a genuine sympathy for the people. Senator Flavier is one, for his being a doctor to the barrios, Senator Jovy Salonga for his eloquence on his faith in the public sphere, Congressman Crispin Beltran for his fortitude in advancing the interest of the working class, the militancy of Bonifacio, Rizal for his dedication, Nelson Mandela for his unselfishness.
I was impressed by Joan of Arc, Rizal, and Jesus Christ because they went to their deaths for what they believed, and their beliefs were common and of the people.
I had begun to arrive at a philosophy, “If you do it, make sure you’ll finish it and do it with all your heart. If what you will do will benefit many people, though it threatens your happiness and safety, sacrifice your happiness and safety for your noble purpose.”
Such philosophy is my answer to the question my faith had posed on me; “What Would Jesus Do?”
Initially due to the blind belief my parents have instilled, I was studying to escape the constricted confines of poor Filipinos, but my efforts only led me to the conviction that the poor Filipinos was all important, and that I was inferior to it.
GOD BLESS THE FILIPINO.
Manuel A. Rodriguez II
Cyberspace, as the fifth common domain – after land, sea, air and outer space, is in great need for coordination, cooperation and legal measures among all nations. A cyberspace treaty or a set of treaties at the United Nations level, counting cybersecurity, cybercrime and other cyber hazards, should be the framework for peace, justice and security in the electronic world (Schjolberg & Helie, 2011).
Crimes against peace and security in cyberspace should be established as crimes under international law through a Convention or Protocol at the United Nations level for mankind will in the future be completely dependent on information and communication technologies (Ibid).
With the fast changing innovation of technology is new conduct developed among individuals. Good or bad, these forms of conduct, however, must be classified so as to determine those which are gradually destroying our aim for a better environment (Jalayajay & Garcia, 2011).
Serious crimes in cyberspace should be established under international law, whether or not they are punishable under national law (Id.). The main purpose of enacting a law is to govern the conduct of individuals, and to regulate it so as to promote social order. Any conduct, which seems to be in violation of a person’s right must be governed and regulated by a law (ibid).
The Dawn of the Controversial RA 10175
Last September 12, 2012, Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III signed the Republic Act 10175 (RA 10175) or The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 into law to prevent various electronic offenses including forgery, fraud, and identity theft and child pornography. The new crimes are grouped into two sections in the new RA 10175: Internet Crimes and Commercial Crimes. Another new crime created under the new law is “Cyber-Squatting” which is “the acquisition of a person’s domain name in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy the reputation and deprive others from registering the same.”
On October 3, 2012 the day one of the effectivity of the controversial law, the Philippine Government faced a bombardment of protests. Major news outlets, bloggers, human rights advocates and other critics turned their social media profile black to express their dismay to the Government and indignation on the said piece of legislation.
The Philippines has one of Asia's most effervescent democracies. But critics say the law echoes strategy to quiet and keep an eye on critics used by former strongman President Ferdinand Marcos when he imposed martial law in the 1970s (Macaraig, 2012).
Orwellian Society Philippines?
"Orwellian" is an adjective describing the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. It connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the "unperson" — a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments. Often, this includes the circumstances depicted in Orwell’s novels particularly in the award winning novel, Nineteen-eighty-four (Wikipedia.com).
The most common sense of an “Orwellian” society is the state of complete control of the Government over its subjects, wherein improper thoughts against the Government is a serious crime.
The dawn of the Cybercrime Prevention Act may have brought to us an online version of an “Orwellian” Philippines. Such a kind of legislation must and should be abhorred for being contrary to the Due Process Clause enshrined on our Constitution, however, declaring a law as unconstitutional is a power vested only in one Supreme Court. As opined by United States Supreme Court Magistrate, Evans Hughes: “Constitution is what the Judges say it is.”
The Constitution is the guide
which I will never abandon.
- George Washington
Cybersecurity, Human Rights, and Civil Liberties
Internet, the network of networks, is an outstanding way of getting in touch with people and making links. It contributes to the spread of knowledge, to social and economic development and, if nothing else, it can be a way of elevating personal life. But it should not be forgotten that it is also a utensil of power, a place of bazaar where everything can be bought and sold, including personal data malicious software and crimeware tools (Schjolberg & Stein, 2011).
Internet can also be considered as an instrument that allows the development of digital surveillance on a very large scale. This contributes to potentially threatening several human freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement (the right to travel and to navigate freely on the Internet), the right to knowledge and information, and the right to respect for private life, family and correspondence. In the world of digital technology, every activity leaves a trace. Cyberspace is billed as being free but people end up paying for their actions in some way, often payment in kind by providing their personal data (Ibid.).
Connecting the world in a responsible manner should guarantee fundamental human rights and civil liberties as well as the fair and honest handling of personal data. It should help the rethinking of economic models to ensure that personal data are not just considered as an asset to be traded.
Finding a realistic balance between the needs and duties of protection, between the protection of individual and common interests, between the respect of national sovereignty and the need for international collaboration, all the while keeping fundamental human rights in mind, is essential.
It would be reasonable to use these points as a main axis for development for cybersecurity measures. Both public and private players should propose technical, legal and economic cybersecurity solutions which are viable and convincing at national and international levels, in order to allow the police and justice systems to function efficiently without damaging fundamental freedoms. It should be kept in mind, however, that no single measure or security solution can protect against the consequences of injustice (ibid.).
The objective is to offer workable solutions for preserving national sovereignty as well as managing cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime and terrorism, at both a national and an international level. At the same time, there is a real need to develop measures that foster a fair use of personal data and digital privacy for everyone (individual, organization and state) (ibid.).
Cyberspace is not merely virtual; it represents an idea of the world with a political, and economic and social reality.
Why the Supreme Court Should Abhor RA 10175
Section 1 of Article III of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution provides that 'no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.'
However, under Section 19 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, 'when a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the Department of Justice (DOJ) shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer.'" No court intervention is needed; the DOJ can go right ahead and compel you to stop publishing your posts (Sta. Maria, 2012). It is like police officials breaking inside your home and takes any property of yours without a warrant issued by a Judge.
The abovementioned is the strongest reason why the law should be declared unconstitutional. Other crimes being prohibited by the law as found out by the writer of this article is reasonable, in fact some crimes in the new law is already prohibited by the Government prior to the enactment of RA 10175 by other special laws and the Revised Penal Code. However, the duration of the penalty prescribed in the new law is not reasonable.
While it may be true that the law has good intentions, nevertheless the end can never justify the means. The Government exist not only to protect the people but also to preserve their rights, if one of those two tasks is left undone then the Government is a failure. Those two tasks are not options for the Government to perform; they are responsibilities which must be performed. Protect the people and preserve rights.
The rights of the people do not end in courts, in the parliament of the streets, or anywhere on Earth. It extends to the intangible world of social media and on the Internet at large. The web is a mere extension of our physical world therefore the Constitution remains supreme therein.
Jalayajay, Betsy Rose & Garcia, Ma. Shiela (2011) DEALING WITH CYBERCRIMES: The Extent and Application of Current Laws. Far Eastern Law Review, Vol. XLII, 2011
Macaraig, Meynardo (2012) Protests as Philippine Cybercrime Law takes effect. www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276649/scitech/technology/protect-as-philippine-cybercrime-law-takes-effect
Scjolberg, Stein & Ghernaouti – Helie, Solange (2011) A Global Treaty on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime. Cybercrimelaw.net
Sta. Maria, Melencio (2012) An Interaksyon.com Article. www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/276434/scitech/socialmedia/digital-martial-law-10-scary-things-about-the-cybercrime-prevention-act-of-2012
Republic Act 10175. AN ACT DEFINING CYBERCRIME, PROVIDING FOR THE PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, SUPRESSION AND THE IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. Signed September 12, 2012. Took effect October 30, 2012
On May 2010 the whole nation will vote for the new President. Automated election will be used as a method, for the first time in our history. New method of election as it may be, still, many old faces in the political arena will try to join the race to Malacanang Palace. The ousted President Estrada will try to make a comeback and the ousted Senate President Villar will join the race as well. Incumbent Vice President deCastro is making a little bit of noise now that the election is near (why only now?). The leader of the Judicial department Honorable Puno is testing the waters if he can make a giant leap from the Judiciary to the Executive department. Many more are aspiring…in this country almost all “politicos” wants to be the President. Some of those “politicos” who are not so popular yet for the presidential race will vie for a senate seat. The unpopular incumbent President Gloria Arroyo made a statement that she may run for a congressional seat. Many more happenings may still uncover as the nation waits for the coming of May 14, 2010.
As I see these moments unfold from my very eyes through my television set, all I can do from the comfort of my sofa is to sigh. “Magulo ang pulitika ng Pinas.” Even foreign Nations will agree.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH ON NATIONAL PROBLEMS?
The Election Code prohibits heads or superiors of religions from coercing or intimidating their followers in the choice of candidates. Experts say this is so because of the Constitutional mandate of the “separation” of Church and the State. A mandate that is impliedly saying that Priests, Pastors, Imams and other religious leaders has nothing to do with the election so we should not take their opinion on who to vote. I may not yet be an expert in the law now but I believe that such thought is a gross misunderstanding of the principle of the separation of Church and State.
The “separation” came into being to protect the Church from the undue intrusion by the State, not vice versa. The principle doesn’t mean that the Church will just let everything happen in the political realm and practice a “hands off” attitude for it is outside of its jurisdiction. It doesn’t mean that the Church will have nothing to say on the conduct of the government or the quality of our public servants. Or that a spiritually matured Pastor or Priest may not influence another’s vote like anybody else.
It simply means that the State shall not try to run the Church’s business and vice versa. Elections must be conducted by the State and not by Church of course, and no religion may require members to show him his filled ballot before dropping it in the ballot box. Coercion violates the freewill of a human being, and must be forbidden anywhere.
In my personal opinion, although the Church and the State are independent from each other, they are joined together by a same subject: man. The people whom the State wants to be employed, educated and be protected from the A(H1N1) are the same people whose souls the Church wants to save.
The State sees me as a citizen but to the Church I am a man and we don’t need a PhD in Philosophy to know that a man is more than a citizen. The citizen pays the BIR or tax evades it, votes “politicos” or be the “politico” to be voted upon, but he is a man who worships hisGod and goes to Heaven or hell afterward. Church and State serve the same person, they cannot be truly separated.
SHOULD THE CHURCH TELL THE FAITHFUL WHO TO VOTE OR WHO MUST NOT BE VOTED ON 2010?
The answer is usually no, but this becomes a yes whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls require it. At a time when many politicians are propagating platforms which are anti-life, anti-morality and anti-Church? The Church does not only have the right but also an obligation to propose the certain types of men should be rejected from one’s ballot.
But as a rule, Christians, the most numerous in the nation, does not involve itself into partisan politics. The religion “Iglesia ni Cristo” (INC) however believes that members must exercise unity in the choice of candidates. Those who oppose the belief will certainly will not be a part of the INC, they should be free to leave the fold, if they are members already; they would probably violate it, if they stayed. Such belief is already a part of the INC doctrine. That is what freedom of religion is all about.
I believe religious organizations have a right to be involved in partisan politics whether they practice it or not. The Church has a right and a duty to perform in this chaotic nation, form the Christian conscience of all, and lead them in defending Christian values, even after the most unlikely people have been cooped, degraded or silenced.
Churches must deal with national problems if they are to be faithful with their task. If the sovereign God is concerned not only with spiritual matters but also even from the physical realm of man – food, clothing, shelter even the government. God is Sovereign above the State and all, things therefore He cannot be confined purely to spiritual things for He made the same world for which his Son Jesus gave his life. Churches cannot pretend to be blind and dumb in the face of poverty, exploitation and injustice. By their silence they are involving themselves to the injustice.
We, men in the eyes of the Church and citizens in the eyes of the state shall and must respect the laws and the Constitution, but in the event of conflict, our bias must be on the Lord’s side rather that man’s law. Let us all desire order but only to when it is balanced with the human aspiration for freedom, equality and the human dignity.
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.