Monday, December 8, 2008

Former Philippine Chief Justice Discusses Constitution

I'm posting this week from Manila, where I'm attending the annual conference of the Global Alliance for Justice Education.  The conference opened today (Monday) with a keynote by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban (retired) titled New Paradigms of Justice and Education.  A good deal of Chief Justice Panganiban's talk dealt with the Philippine Constitution (1987), so I thought I'd post.

The Chief--who's written extensively (outside of his many judicial opinions) on Philippine constitutionalism, jurisprudence, judicial review, and related topics--made three comments that stood out and that are relevant here, on our Con Law Prof Blog.  (I offer these without comment.)

First, he repeatedly referred to the Philippine Constitution's commitment to positive social and economic rights, right along with its commitment to liberty.  And he linked these:  Liberty could not exist without social justice, equality, social services to eradicate poverty, and even full employment.  This link is in the Constitution itself: The Philippine Declaration of State Policies, a constitutional provision separate from the Bill of Rights, requires the state

to promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all.

Second, the Chief talked about the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, a constitutionally created, politically independent commission "to investigate all forms of human rights violations," "to recommend to Congress effective measures to promote human rights," and "to monitor the Philippine government's compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights."

Finally, the Chief discussed the Philippine Supreme Court's legislative function--constitutional authority in addition to its judicial review function--to "promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights."  Pursuant to this authority, the Court last year promulgated the Writ of Amparo, permitting the families or friends of disappeared persons, or persons whose rights to life, liberty, or security were threatened or violated by anyone (including private individuals), to petition the courts to require the perpetrator (public or private) to produce the body of the victim and to explain the circumstances of the violation.


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