Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/04/06MANILA1746.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1746 2006-04-21 06:44 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO0222
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1746/01 1110644
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 210644Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0624
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001746

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, INR/EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2016
TAGS: PGOV PINS RP
SUBJECT: MALACANANG SUFFERS SETBACK AT HANDS OF SUPREME COURT

REF: A. MANILA 995
¶B. MANILA 711
¶C. 05 MANILA 4934

Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard for reasons 1.4(b)
and (d)

¶1. (SBU) Summary: The Supreme Court ruled April 20 that key
sections of E.O. 464, which required Malacanang concurrence
before executive branch members could testify in Congress,
were unconstitutional. Malacanang said it would file a
motion for reconsideration. The Opposition hailed the ruling
as upholding the balance of powers among branches of
government and the people’s right to know. According to some
insiders, Malacanang may also lose two other important cases
now before the Court, including the proclamation of the State
of National Emergency earlier this year. The April 20
decision by a court packed with Arroyo appointees was
unexpected but reinforces the principle of Supreme Court
independence. End Summary.

—————
Surprise Ruling
—————

¶2. (U) The Supreme Court ruled 14-0 on April 20 that key
sections of E.O. 464, which required Malacanang concurrence
before executive branch members could testify in Congress
(ref c), were unconstitutional. (One justice was on leave
and did not participate in the ruling.) The 52-page decision
reaffirmed the right of Congress to compel officials to
appear “in aid of legislation” and found the E.O. violated
that right. It further ruled that “executive privilege” only
applied to the President; other executive branch officials
did not have the right to invoke it. The Court also held
that the order had infringed on the separation of powers
among the branches by elevating the rights of one branch (the
executive) over those of another (the legislature). However,
the Court ruled in favor of the President’s prerogative to
prevent officials from appearing at “Question Hours” —
hearings that “do not relate to specific legislation but are
directed merely at Congressional oversight of the
implementation of laws.”

————
GRP Reaction
————

¶3. (U) Malacanang was clearly caught off-guard by the
ruling. One key assistant to President Arroyo had predicted
on April 19 that the Palace would win the case. Palace
spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the Administration hoped the
ruling would not incite Opposition members to “use their
powers to harass public officials or to push a particular
political agenda.” He urged legislators instead to work “in
a positive manner,” including by passing the 2006 budget (now
in the Senate). Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor
told the media that Solicitor General Antonio Eduardo Nachura
would file a motion of reconsideration, although few
observers have expressed confidence that this motion would
have much of a chance of success.

——————-
Opposition Enthused
——————-

¶4. (C) A gleeful Opposition welcomed the news and
congratulated the Supreme Court for asserting its
“independence.” Senate President Franklin Drilon, who has
called for the President’s resignation, said he was grateful
the Court “was prepared to uphold the Constitution.” Drilon
was one of 17 senators who had asked the Court to rule on the
order, claiming that it had delayed Senate business. Senator
Panfilo Lacson called for the resignation of Arroyo advisors
who had crafted E.O. 464, while House Minority Leader Francis
Escudero hailed the Court’s decision as one “in the best
interest of our people.” According to Lacson aide Lito
Banayo, the Court’s ruling was “a serious blow to Malacanang,
which had been acting as if it was above the law.” He
predicted that when the Senate came back from recess in
mid-May, it would commence a series of hearings into various
matters “embarrassing to Malacanang.”

————-
More To Come?
————-

MANILA 00001746 002 OF 002

¶5. (C) One Estrada-era Sandiganbayan justice told Pol/C late
April 20 that close contacts in the Supreme Court (now in
summer session in Baguio) had confirmed that pending Court
decisions regarding challenges to E.O. 1017 (proclaiming the
State of National Emergency in February) and the GRP’s
“Calibrated Pre-emptive Response” (CPR) policy had already
gone against Malacanang; designated justices were already
crafting the final decisions for release in the next few
weeks. Separately, Senate staffer Banayo noted that many
justices had already been critical of E.O. 1017 and CPR in
oral arguments held earlier this year, and said that he had
heard reports that the Court planned to issue rulings that
were adverse to Malacanang in both those cases.

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (C) The April 20 decision by a court packed with Arroyo
appointees (10 of 15 justices, including the new Chief
Justice) was unexpected by most pundits but should help to
reinforce the principle of Supreme Court independence. In
recent years, many observers — not only in the Opposition —
had accused the Court of operating in overly close
coordination with Malacanang. If the Court does overrule
Malacanang on E.O. 1017 and the CPR policy, it would be a
welcome sign of true separation of powers but also a public
relations and political nightmare for the Palace. The
Opposition remains on the lookout for weapons to use in an
expected new impeachment effort against the President
beginning in July; actions committed under unconstitutional
Executive Orders might well fit the bill.

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Kenney

   

 

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