by Justin David G. Pineda
IT’S already February 2012 and the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is still the highlight of everyday events in the government and media. But unlike Jeremy Lin’s sudden hype because of his skill, [1] the impeachment is like a paid advertisement to sway people’s minds to rebel against “betrayal of public trust.” However, even though the Filipinos have a hasty generalization mentality, day by day it changes due to extreme lack of capability both skill and evidence that the prosecution has been showing in the trial. [11]
Not a few people will conclude that whoever is against the President of the Republic is a pro-GMA person. You can see that everywhere in argumentation in social networking and media sites. It has always been argued that we deem wanted GMA to be liable for her sins to the country. Yes, I agree with these people 100%. If needed, then she should give back all the money she has allegedly stolen from the Filipinos and pay the price of her crimes in jail. But I always say that GMA is just one small part of the story of the Filipinos. Furthermore, saying that if you’re anti-GMA then you should be pro-PNoy is such an illogical statement.
On the GMA Case
In the first place, I don’t agree with how the government handled her arrest and even stopped her from leaving the country last November 2011. The issue there wasn’t whether she will escape the country or not. The issue was whether the government followed the rule of law or not. [12] Let’s always remember that the court would and should never rule based on speculations. Speculations include thinking that she will just escape or faking her illness. If that were true then there should be evidence. There was even no formal case filed by the government against her. Better yet, let’s put ourselves in her shoes being barred from leaving the country even though no formal charge was filed. You’re being blocked because of speculations. Wouldn’t that sound unfair? It is not the fault of the court that they allowed GMA to leave. It is the fault of the government for failing to file a formal case against GMA. PNoy has been in his throne for more than a year already before this incident happen. He could’ve tasked his officials to spend time filing cases against GMA. But he spent those time just bragging and blaming the previous administration in his SONA justifying that he cannot do much because the government funds were missing. He spent his time being a pot calling the kettle black.
In the February 23, 2012 trial of CJ Corona, Senator Gringo Honasan asked clarificatory questions to DOJ Sec. Leila De Lima regarding her disobedience on the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issue on the GMA case. De Lima explained that the DOJ Circular 41 gave them the power to issue a Watch List Order (WLO) to hold GMA. She admitted she defied the TRO and proceeded to block her. Sen. Honasan asked if there should be a “probable cause” in determining whether an individual should be placed under WLO. The Secretary said no. But since she defied the TRO issued by the court, she was given a show-cause order why she shouldn’t be held for contempt. The Senator then asked, why a show-cause order is needed. De Lima replied, “because there is due process.”
How easy it is for the DOJ Secretary to issue a WLO without even determining a probable cause yet when she’s the one with criminal liability, she’s given a proper time to explain herself because of due process.
Days after the TRO incident, on November 18, 2011, the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC), after recommendation from the DOJ-Comelec joint panel, issued a warrant of arrest against GMA. This move made the TRO useless and created a probable cause against GMA. [7] However, ask yourself this: Is this how the court handles a case against an accused? The moment, the same day the recommendation from the joint panel was released, the court has already determined a probable cause against the respondent. If you go to the Comelec office, you would see a lot of voluminous documents on the case yet they were able to issue an arrest warrant within 2 hours. Are they fast readers and fast typists? Days ago, the government was questioned on legal basis. In this case, they made the process look legal through technicalities. But would you call that due process? In the first place, would you call that ethical?
Of all these Filipino cases, how many of them are being attended to and being determined with a probable cause in just 2-hours?
On the Corona case
PNoy’s hate on Corona sitting as Chief Justice was first felt during the Presidential Inauguration when he chose Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales to administer the oath-taking ceremony instead of the CJ. [8] He continued mentioning the midnight appointment of Corona and how his appointment will become a hindrance to the administration’s plans for reform.
I personally didn’t like Corona to become the Chief Justice when appointed by GMA on 2010. I believe that he shouldn’t have even accepted the position. I wanted Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio [13] become the CJ. I’ve read his profile and decisions made and all were superb. Of course, in a legal argumentation, 2 lawyers will have 2 opposite arguments that have good points. For one side, a president can appoint a CJ when one vacates it. It so happened that CJ Puno’s mandatory retirement was on May 2010 which was an election month. [14] On another side, there shouldn’t be no appointments due to election ban. Two arguments both found in the constitution. And so the appointment became legal after decided by the Supreme Court. But I don’t really think that it’s the end of the world for PNoy. For me, what happened was part of democracy. One part of the government cannot always be on the same page of the other parts.
The President have been so consistent in criticizing and lambasting the CJ. The Judiciary, on the other hand, has always been silent and the least expressive to the public. The sympathy of the public went to the President especially because the CJ was appointed by an unpopular president. The President in return continued his acts.
Then came the Criminal Justice Summit on December 6, 2011 wherein both the CJ and the President attended. Instead of giving a talk on Criminal Justice, the President slammed the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court in its face. The CJ just kept silent, emotionless and calm. [6] But it was a sign that the President really wanted the CJ out.
One week later, 188 Congressmen signed an impeachment complaint of Corona. He was impeached by the House of Representatives on 8 Articles of Impeachment. [5] It was a very fast move, just like how an arrest warrant was issued against GMA. Eight articles of impeachment were read, verified and signed by more than 188 representatives within 5 hours and transmitted to Senate.
The trial began before the Senate even started. After filing the impeachment complaint, members of the prosecution panel led by the Justice Committee Chair Niel Tupas Jr., they claimed that the CJ has amassed ill-gotten wealth and various properties beyond his capacity to pay as a Chief Justice. Days before the trial, the Land Registration Authority (LRA) released records and claimed that CJ Corona has 45 properties. These properties were disclosed by the prosecution team in a press conference.
For Malacañang’s part, the President admitted urging the Congressmen to file the impeachment complaint. I really feel that they were expecting Corona to resign because the plaintiff admittedly claimed that impeachment complaint is very weak. [31] Other signatories of the complaint also admitted that they didn’t read the whole contents of the complaint and just relied on the Powerpoint made by Tupas. [20] PNoy for his part started drafting replacements for Corona even when the impeachment hadn’t started yet. [21]
They never knew that CJ Corona will not give up easy and fight back. The Chief Justice answered all allegations one by one and even fired back to his critiques. High profile lawyers offered legal services pro-bono to defend him. [22]
And the prosecution team with more than 50 private lawyers have been humiliated publicly due to their lack of preparation and fishing expedition. They cried foul when Retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, lead defense counsel, [2] had been very strict in following rules of court and evidence. He has been objecting a lot silencing the prosecution and ruining their plans of presenting a lot of witnesses and evidences which Cuevas claims as “immaterial, irrelevant and impertinent.”
The reason why I’m personally against the removal of Chief Justice Corona in the Supreme Court is simply the cases filed were so weak that the accusers didn’t even have any idea about what they complained about. [15] They’re just pulling up people issuing subpoena to whoever they wanted. It pains me to see how these politicians embarrass a person without any concrete basis. But in a wider scope, the President is trying to become a dictator- first by controlling the executive, second by controlling the legislative and now trying to control the judiciary. This plan is contrary to what democracy speaks about. He wants everybody in the government agree with him. If not, he/she will be impeached or terminated. The worst part is, these offices affected by the impeachment focus more on the impeachment rather than their primary work- the Senate, the Congress (who has only 2 sessions in quorum last January), [32] the Judiciary (especially the Supreme Court) and the Office of the President.
So the question is: Is this the government that we want? A government that chases the allegedly bad without the due process? A government that promotes character assassination? A government, which Senator Bongbong Marcos defines, that enforces “selective justice?” [16]
On the Filipino case
Supposed GMA and Corona both are sent to jail hypothetically, what good will it bring to the Filipino people? Freedom? Growth in economy? Trust in government? [4] You answer.
The problem with the President is that he is too busy and obsessed catching who he thinks is bad to attain peace. He wanted to build a “matuwid na daan.” However, catching bad guys is supposedly the norm. Meaning to say, it should be given that for a country, it is peaceful. It is not something to brag or to give so much limelight. Because for Filipinos, a straight path is just the same with a zigzag path. Those are just 2 roads. Catching the bad guys won’t bring the poor out of hunger. Putting GMA in jail won’t increase the economic growth. Ousting Corona won’t lower the oil prices and the primary commodities.
My point is simple. Let the courts handle these cases. End of story. Focus more on building the country and not focus on persecuting individual people. They are entitled to due process and presumption of innocence for God’s sake.
The economy drastically went down months right after PNoy stepped in Malacañang. [9] He focused on a crusade to battle the corrupt but only there. He tighten the release of the taxpayer’s money because he doesn’t want the money to go in the pockets of the corrupt. But if you will not let the money go into cycle, then there won’t be any improvements in the country at all. This is what is happening.
The unemployment rate is higher. [10] Children who go to school are lower. [17] Basic commodities are getting higher as well but he is not doing anything about it. If he’s doing something about it, nobody knows. What people see in television is his love life and campaign against GMA and Corona.
Does he have any concrete projects that are being/already implemented? If there are, what are they? Please don’t tell me Condition Cash Transfers (CCT) amounting to PHP 21 Billion annually. [30]
Specifically, he must address concerns on education, employment, environment and technology. There are so many projects that can be done for those categories mentioned. But I see none.
It’s true that PNoy is doing selective justice. He does what he wants. He will humiliate anybody who is against him and defy the rule of law. There is no accountability on his part also. I remember the Qurino Grandstand Hostage taking last August 2010. A lot of Chinese tourists where killed including the hostage taker. The President didn’t apologize for what happened because he said his administration did its best to help. [28] But did they? The Undersecretary for DILG Rico Puno was not terminated even if he didn’t act properly during the hostage crisis. Puno is close friend who help campaigned him in the elections. [29]
When the presidential speech writer Mai Mislang tweeted various derogatory statements regarding Vietnam during their State Visit there, she was even defended by the President. [3] When his “kabarilan” Sec. Ronald Llamas was caught buying pirated DVD’s and his car caught with an AK-47 rifle, he wasn’t fired. As a matter of fact, the President defended him. [24][26]
When the NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula, was allegedly involved in a kidnapping of a Japanese alien, without proper conference or meeting, he was kicked out and humiliated in his office. Gatdula filed a TRO seeking to stop a preliminary investigation which perceived to be biased because of the DOJ panel doing reviews without getting his side. The court sided with Gatdula and issued a TRO. But the great Leila De Lima didn’t follow it and continued with her investigation. [25]
The Retired Lieutenant Jovito Palparan who was accused by the government for kidnapping and killing of student activists was issued a WLO by the DOJ. He was following and attending the hearings set for him. When the WLO expired, he wanted to leave the country. Even if there are no pending cases on him and the WLO has already expired, he was still barred by Sec. De Lima. [27]
I mentioned these things because the President’s campaign is for public trust and accountability. He tries to use force and power to put down his enemies who he thinks are criminals without the due process. But as you can see, he himself runs a corrupted administration. He doesn’t discipline or admonish incompetent and sinful officials he appointed for as long as they’re his friends and do things that pleases him. While personal vendetta is being promoted, who in the 90 million Filipino people are benefiting from it?
With all fairness to GMA, she did bring the economy through BPO’s. She did build those roads in the North. She did something. [23] Public office is public trust. But public office has also other tasks other than establishing it as a public trust. In its essence it says for service of the public, not for the service of personal interests.
I’m deeply dismayed and bothered that our President has been a spoiled brat doing what he pleases in bigotry and conceitedness. Enough is said during the Sendong when he was partying when his people are dying in Mindanao. [33] Enough is said that he there was a flood control project there which he scrapped because it was GMA’s project. Enough is said that he vetoed budget for Disaster Management program in the National Budget. [34]
What is next Mr. President? I respect democracy and I respect the millions of people who voted for PNoy. But he must serve not only for those who voted for him. When I chance upon my ITR I saw I paid more than a 100,000 Pesos for taxes yet I don’t see even little improvements in our country. All I see and hear are complains and blames because of the corrupt past administration.
I hope it’s not all about politics and media sensation. The Filipinos deserve more than that. In the end I ask this current government, What makes you different from what you say is a corrupt administration if yourselves don’t follow the law, protect your own and neglect the needs of your people?
The President is elected for the Filipino people and not to chase Arroyo and Corona.
References:
[1] Linforgraphic: The journey of Jeremy Lin by Inforgraphic World from http://infographicworld.com/linfographic-the-journey-of-jeremy-lin/
[2] When the going gets tough, the tough get going by Fil V. Elefante from http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/23410-when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-get-going
[3] Journalist twits President’s speechwriter for rude tweets ABS-CBN News (with a report from RG Cruz) from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/11/01/10/journalist-twits-presidents-speechwriter-rude-tweets
[4] Fidel Ramos: Impeachment won’t solve poverty by DJ Yap from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/151943/fidel-ramos-impeachment-wont-solve-poverty
[5] 188 solons impeach CJ Corona by Cynthia D. Balana, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/109793/188-solons-impeach-cj-corona
[6] Aquino lambasts Supreme Court in front of Corona by Christine O. Avendaño, Marlon Ramos from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/105887/aquino-lambasts-supreme-court-in-front-of-corona
[7] Court issues arrest warrant vs GMA by Dexter Ganibe, dzMM from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/11/18/11/court-issues-arrest-warrant-vs-gma
[8] Can Aquino deliver? by Emil Jurado from http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpinion.htm?f=2010/july/1/emiljurado.isx&d=2010/july/1
[9] Rappler Animate: How Aquino handled the economy by Lala Rimando Katherine Visconti and Emil Mercado from http://www.rappler.com/business/1230-rappler-animate-how-aquino-handled-the-economy
[10] As Aquino perorates, unemployment rises by J.A. de la Cruz from http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/23775-as-aquino-perorates-unemployment-rises
[11] Santiago lectures lead prosecutor in impeachment trial by Kathrina Alvarez from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2012/02/13/santiago-lectures-lead-prosecutor-impeachment-trial-205888
[12] The directive to bar the Arroyos from leaving the country stays — de Lima by Leonardo Postrado from http://www.mb.com.ph/node/341505/the-directive-bar-arroyo
[13] Justices of the Supreme Court from http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/justices/j.carpio.php
[14] Corona assumes as Chief Justice By Genalyn Kabiling and Jeamma Sabate from http://www.mb.com.ph/node/257841/corona-a
[15] Of leaks and lies from http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120222com1.html
[16] Bongbong: PNoy has ‘selective’ justice by Ryan Chua from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/11/22/11/bongbong-pnoy-has-%E2%80%98selective%E2%80%99-justice
[17] Numbers by Philippine Daily Inquirer from http://www.inquirer.net/specialfeatures/jobs/view.php?db=1&article=20110430-333876
[18] Oil firms hike prices by P1.35 by Neil Jerome Morales from http://www5.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=780241
[19] The NFA Says Get Ready for P2 Per Kilo Increase in Rice Prices from http://www.agriculture-ph.com/2011/04/more-rice-crisis-price-increases.html
[20] Corona asks Senate to subpoena Belmonte by Christian V. Esguerra from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/126561/corona-asks-senate-to-subpoena-belmonte
[21] Palace: We’re not disregarding JBC by Willard Cheng from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/12/29/11/palace-were-not-disregarding-jbc
[22] Lawyer defends pro bono work for Corona by Karen Boncocan from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/141257/lawyer-defends-pro-bono-work-for-corona
[23] Arroyo to Aquino: It’s the Economy, Student by Michael Lim Ubac from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/126851/arroyo-gets-back-at-aquino
[24] Aquino rebukes adviser over fake video discs by Virgil B. Lopezfrom http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2012/02/04/aquino-rebukes-adviser-over-fake-video-discs-204382
[25] Gatdula TRO effect downplayed by Evangeline de Vera
from http://www.malaya.com.ph/02032012/news9.html
[26] Aquino defends Llamas over AK-47, says adviser has right to protect himself by Chichi Conde from http://www.interaksyon.com/article/15004/aquino-defends-llamas-over-ak-47-says-adviser-has-right-to-protect-himself
[27] Palparan barred from leaving RP despite lapsed WLO by Benjamin B. Pulta, Pat C. Santos and Virgilio J. Bugaoisan from http://globalbalita.com/2011/palparan-barred-from-leaving-rp-despite-lapsed-wlo/
[28] Aquino rejects call for apology for Hong Kong deaths by Jill Beltran from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2011/08/23/aquino-rejects-call-apology-hong-kong-deaths-174809
[29] Rico Puno qualified to handle peace and order – Palace from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/09/02/10/rico-puno-qualified-handle-peace-and-order-palace
[30] DSWD wants P39.4-B for conditional cash transfer by RG Cruz from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/business/08/01/11/dswd-wants-p394-b-conditional-cash-transfer
[31] ‘Masama pagkakagawa ng complaint’ – Farinas from http://pcij.org/blog/2012/02/07/masama-pagkakagawa-ng-complaint-farinas
[32] ‘Impeachment trial affecting quorum at House’ by Paolo Romero from http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=773571&publicationSubCategoryId=
[33] Palace defends PNoy for attending PSG party by Willard Cheng from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/12/19/11/palace-defends-pnoy-attending-psg-party
[34] Gov’t courting disaster, solon warns by Jester Manalastas
from http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/21182-govt-courting-disaster-solon-warns

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