Press Release
August 28, 2006


Addressing members of the bench, lawyers, media and civil society groups at a forum in Manila Hotel, Senator Edgardo J. Angara said there must be a fine and delicate calibration to balance the countrys aspiration of liberty and prosperity.

We must insist that bread and freedom go together, that we need not give up one for the other, he said.

Angara stressed that the issue of liberty and prosperity and the argument for safe judicial intervention is even more compelling in our country today because of our increasing poverty rate.

According to the World Bank, almost half of our 85 million people are living on less than 2 dollars a day. Thats P110 a day. This, while the richest 5 percent of the country account for a third of the national income, he said.

On top of that, twenty-five percent of children aged zero to five, pre-school age, are malnourished. And almost the same percentage are underweight or malnourished. That means we are raising and rearing Filipinos who would grow up mentally and physically stunted. We must do something about this depressing reality, he said.

But certainly, its not the judiciarys job alone to strike this balance between liberty and prosperity. It must be done by the entire nationby the whole political community. For instance, we in the legislature must reflect the peoples choice of how much liberty we are prepared to sacrifice for economic growth, and conversely, how much economic growth we are willing to forego each meal time so long as we are able to freely criticize our government and lambast our leaders, Angara said.

Angara noted that Supreme Court Justice Panganibans suggestion of the courts heightened scrutiny and deferential approach in matters of achieving liberty and prosperity respectively are helpful and effective.

However, he also noted, the courts intervention must be aggressive and must consider immediacy and urgency in intervening between the acts of the executive branch and the acts of legislature.

I fully agree that the court must be always on maximum alert when the Executive oversteps its bounds and violates our civil liberties. The court must be keenly vigilant and sensitive to violations of fundamental basic rights. Whereas, the legislature must be sensitive to the basic intuition of the people, Angara explained.

Further, Angara said, The court must affirm the principle of accountability--which is very important in democracy-- rather than hinder transparency and accountability to the people.

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