An Avenue for the Primacy of the Rule of Law

Executive, Legislative, Judicial Council Formed
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez

Calling it a "historic moment in our constitutional democracy," President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led leaders of the three branches of government in the signing of the Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JELAC) Tuesday.

The JELAC will work together to institutionalize "consultation, cooperation, and coordination in pursuit of the rule of law and the advancement of our nation," the President said in her opening statement...

"By the legislative and executive action, the beneficiary of the JELAC is the judiciary," he told reporters in an interview.

Senate President Manuel Villar said the greater aim of JELAC would be to make the three branches work together for the people.

Asked if specific issues like extrajudicial killings and press freedom were discussed as among the priorities, Villar said he believed that the council would tackle them in the coming days.

Puno said he reviewed the structure of the JELAC and found nothing that would lead to an encroachment on each other’s independence.

While the separation of powers of the three co-equal branches of government is mandated in the Constitution, the President said this should not mean they could not work together.

"Separation does not mean isolation. Rather, among our co-equal branches, there should be consultation and cooperation to advance shared priorities in the national interest and welfare of all Filipinos" she said.

"We envision JELAC to be the venue where representatives of the three branches can identify issues pertaining to the primacy of the rule of law and formulate and undertake solutions to strengthen due process and the institutions of justice, and implement our laws better," Arroyo said.

"The JELAC's mandate is centered on the rule of law," she said...

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What if something like JELAC was formed prior to EDSA 2, or prior to the NBN scandal Senate hearings? Would the primacy of the rule of law be upheld then? Well, we hope it will be from now on -- what a coincidence, especially that this administration has now taken an offensive mode towards Meralco.

We hope that JELAC would turn out to be indeed a useful avenue for independent expert consultative ideas in advancing true primacy of the rule of law -- rather than evolving into a boulevard for sweetheart deals and schemings.