Danger of ‘Honeymoon’
by ALEX P. VIDAL
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
We always maintain that it is not healthy for democracy if the government’s executive and legislative branches are in honeymoon stage.
More danger lurks if they end up as lovers.
Rubber stamp legislatures have been used to circumvent the law and tolerate excesses and abuses committed by heads of executive branch. Presidents, governors, mayors, village chiefs already wield awesome power. If the legislative branch is under their beck and call, democracy will agonize; check and balance will go down in skid row.
It’s not healthy for democracy if some newly elected senators will proclaim to high heavens that they owe their victory to President Noynoy Aquino, who feverishly campaigned for the ruling Liberal Party bets before the May 13 midterm elections.
City, provincial and municipal councilors who attribute their victory heavily on the backing of their standard bearers for governor and mayor are also guilty of waltzing with the executive branch at the expense of the principle of inter-independence.
Baron De Montesquieu, a central figure during the Enlightenment Age warned: when the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, “there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws to execute them in a tyrannical manner.”
There is no liberty if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers. “Were it joined with the legislature, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control; for the judge would be them the legislator,” warned the French social commentator and political thinker. “Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with all the violence of an oppressor.”
The advocate of the theory of separation of powers had warned further that “there would be an end of everything were the same man or the same body, whether of the nobles or of the people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting the laws, that of executing the public resolutions, and that of judging the crimes or differences of individuals.”
Most kingdoms of Europe enjoy a moderate government because the prince who is invested with the two first powers leaves the third to his subjects. In Turkey, where these three powers are united in the sultan’s person, the subjects groan under the weight of the most frightful oppression, Montesquieu said. In the republics of Italy, where these three powers are united, there is less liberty than in our monarchies. “Hence,” he added, “their government is obliged to have recourse to as violent methods for its support as even that of the Turks; witness the state inquisitors, and the lion’s mouth into which every informer may at all hours throw his written accusations.”
“What a situation must the poor subjects be in, under those republics!” thundered Montesquieu. “The same body of magistrates are possessed, as executors of the laws, of the whole power they have given themselves in quality of legislators. They may plunder the state by their general determination, and they have likewise the judiciary power in their hands, every private citizen may be ruined by their particular decisions.”
He warned that “the whole power is here united in one body; and though there is no external pomp that indicates a despotic sway, yet the people feel the effects of it every moment.”
“Hence it is that many of the princes of Europe, whose aim has been leveled at arbitrary power, have constantly set out uniting in their own persons all the branches of magistracy, and all the great offices of the state.” /MP