PORT FOLIO Column: Ramon Cuyco Column
PORT FOLIO

WHEN GOVERNMENT VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTION

Jan 24, 2023, 12:40 AM
Ramon Cuyco

Ramon Cuyco

Columnist

THE 1987 CONSTITUTUTION declares the Philippines as a democratic and republican State where sovereignty rests on the people and all government authority emanates from them.”

The Supreme Court constantly reminds us that “the Bill of Rights is designed to preserve the ideals of liberty, equality and security against the assaults of opportunism, the expediency of the passing hour, the erosion of small encroachments, and the scorn and derision of those who have no patience with general principles."

The 1987 Constitution also states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, no shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. More succinctly, “due process hears before it condemns, and renders judgment only after trial” or fair play.

The Fundamental Law stresses that “[private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.” In furtherance of this constitutional prescription, Congress enacted RA No. 8974, or AN ACT TO FACILITATE THE ACQUISITION OF RIGHT-OF-WAY, SITE OR LOCATION FOR NATIONAL GOVERNMENT INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

But what if it is our government that is not complying with the mandates of the Constitution, and the laws?

We pose this question because of the enormity of the problem where the government had long occupied private properties—some of which were “wrongfully occupied” by the state officials, without undergoing through the process of eminent domain, let alone, paying the “just compensation” thereof.

The Constitution decrees that “the President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.” But, are not the different department secretaries, the alter ego of the President?

This principle applies because the President cannot be expected to personally perform the multifarious functions of the Executive department.

But what if the Department Head, i.e., the Secretary of DPWH or his sub-altern, has authorized the occupancy of government regional office buildings pursuant to its powers and authority under the National Building Code, even if these edifices were built on a private property that has been “wrongfully taken” by government men, should this wrongful occupation—which is tantamount to graft and corruption-- result in exposing the President to culpabilities under the Constitution under the alter ego doctrine?

An actual case involves a regional government center (RGC) situated in a property of over 33,000 sq.m. still owned by a private person. A right-of-way (ROW) claim was filed before the DPWH. A former DPWH Secretary, now a member of Congress, had authorized the payment of just compensation in favor of the private owner occupied by government since 1995. But some DPWH underlings—in their attempt to create their “relevance” dribbled their way through the process, by not paying the just compensation.

Where should the citizens go for redress of their grievances against the very government that is constitutionally tasked to protect citizen’s interest?

This happened long before although we hope Marcos Junio will resolve this arbitrary deprivation by the government of its citizen’s right to due process and to just compensation. Or are we living under a tyrannical order?


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