Lost in the woods

Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino
Lost in the woods
Not only does the solicitor general seem to be having problems with constitutional law, he seems to be splashing illogic all over the place

That is probably the kindest way one can describe Florin Hilbay’s reasoning before the Supreme Court. I have never heard – or read – the likes of it, certainly not from a Solicitor General! But I have learned to expect things bizarre under this administration.

“My assumption is that she was born here in the Philippines, and if that can be disputed, then my entire presentation fails.” Thus did Rappler quote him. There is no need, Mr. Hilbay, to dispute an assumption. To assume is to say: “What if X…”.  Clearly, therefore, it is not to state a fact. And in the case of Ms Grace Poe, from the looks of it Mr Hilbay’s client, we really do not know where she was born.

Hilbay then cites the statistical improbability of foreigners bringing newborns to the Philippines and leaving them here. (READ: SC justice to Solgen: Cite legal basis, not statistics)

First, there is the problem with statistics. Whose statistics? How were they generated? And then, too, the mere possibility that she was not born in the Philippines makes a mess of Mr Hilbay’s already messy logic!  

The Constitution does not make Filipino citizenship a matter of statistical probability. The 1935 Constitution that applies to Ms Poe makes it a necessity, both ontological and logical (the order of what is and of what is asserted) that she be born of a Filipino father. And “most probably” – no matter how one capitalizes “most” – simply does not translate to “is.”  The first is a modal proposition, the second, categorical.

Not only then does Mr Hilbay seem to be having problems with constitutional law, he is splashing illogic all over the place.

As for numbers and the way of democracy, it is good to heed a wise man like Jurgen Habermas to silence prattlers. No, democracy is not about numbers. People do get elected by numbers but that numbers do not make matters right is clear from the fact that elected officials can be ousted from office by the unelected.

A majority is simply an expedient. It is tantamount to saying: Since this matter has to move on for now, let us go by what most choose, but keep the debate open.

Most thought the world flat and most were wrong. Most thought the earth was the center around which the sun revolved, and most were wrong! 

So, I do not really see how this talk about numbers in a democracy can sensibly enter into the discussion and rectify Hilbay’s skewed argument! – Rappler.com


The author is Dean, Graduate School of Law, San Beda College.


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