Monthly Archives: December 2011

“It’s All Nice, Cozy, Neat and Dandy; the Filipino Loses Again”

For Friday, December 30, 2011
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

What would have been gained and what would have been lost in removing Chief Justice Renato Corona?
Firstly, what would have been gained? A) The removal of one single vote (Corona) in the Supreme Court that is, let us assume, biased in favor of his benefactor GMA; and, let us assume again, the realization of the prosecution of GMA – a reckoning that most of us opine (and this is just an opinion and happens to be mine, too) is over-due; and if we might add, that of FG, too, we hope; B) a judiciary that will be more “circumspect” and dutiful (fearful?) in rendering decisions that should be at par with the fairness and impartiality people expect and deserve from judges; C) a Supreme Court that will be more “in tune” with PNoy’s “crusade against corruption” — assuming that’s what it is. This is, however, a double bladed knife that could be used against any of the judges that will not toe the line of Malacanang whether they be acting in accordance with the Constitution or not (eg. The Pasay judge, Jesus Mupas, has not been questioned by Malacanang about his “speed reading prowess,” and record breaking time in issuing a warrant of arrest against GMA presumably because he acted in accordance with the Palace’s wishes as in fact, he did. But a misdeed by this judge is reprehensible regardless of who was victimized and who gained by such a misdeed. In contrast, the seventh article of impeachment against Corona accuses him of “betrayal of public trust and bias for Arroyo, as purportedly shown in the hasty issuance of the TRO”).

What would have been lost? A) The independence of the judiciary, one of 3 co-equal branches of government that was meant to function without interference from the executive or legislative branches of government, or from both conspiring to undermine its independence. (This loss of independence would now influence, “coincidentally,” decisions that are to be made by “cowering in fear” Justices of the SC, on the question of the “just compensation” PNoy’s family is to receive for the Hacienda Luisita land that the Supreme Court has ordered re-distributed to the farmer-tenants. The price is now being contested by his family against differing opinions that peg it from a range of P300M [$7M] based on the 1989 valuation, to P12B [$285M], based on today’s “market value,” to zilch if the families of the farmers that have worked the land for 3 generations have it their way. This issue involves no less than the President’s immediate family and an amount that is no “loose change” [US$ 285M!!] for the government/taxpayers, and for PNoy’s family, too, to be sure); B) the democratic framework from which our constitutional democracy is supposed to function with well defined roles and specific mandates given to each of the 3 co-equal branches of government; C) a government that respects and upholds the rights of its’ people including “the most hated by Malacanang” individual, down to the last citizen; D) and, the spotlight is lost that should be focused on Congressmen that sign documents upon orders from the Palace without first reading them — “but why make a fuss over a lapdog that’s our dog anyway,” the Palace could be saying.
So, that’s a short list of what ostensibly could be gained and could be lost from Corona’s ouster. Kwarta o Kahon?

##################

How can the President speak credibly of instituting reforms in one branch of government, the judiciary, while he makes a mockery of another branch of government, the legislative (the Lower House, so far), pretending that its obsequiousness, its’ obeisance to Malacanang, and the contemptible manner of execution of the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona is indicative of its agreement with Malacanang to the reform that he speaks of. Or does “reform” to the President mean, subservience to him? To be sure, that servility does not come without a price and PNoy, a Congressman for 9 years, can’t possibly not know it. The question now is: who will institute reforms in the Executive and Legislative branches? Or, has it boiled down to: “majority rules – two branches against one, we win!” It’s all nice, cozy, neat and dandy; the Filipino loses again.
Happy New Year!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Motion For Reconsideration reconsidered

For Dec. 21, 2011
Good Morning Philippines

ON SECOND THOUGHT

Not too long ago, it was Malacanang’s position that “the Motion for Reconsideration (MR) is part of the process and the process requires us the opportunity to be heard,” to quote from the official statement of the Palace. This was with regard the case of GMA seeking relief from a “Watch List” order that her lawyers claimed to be illegal resulting in the SC issuing a TRO that would have paved the way for GMA to travel. We know what happened next: the TRO was disobeyed and GMA was barred from leaving. Lacierda opined that because they had filed a Motion for Reconsideration, the Supreme Court should have first heard their side before issuing the TRO. What the Palace is now doing is disregarding the Motion for Reconsideration filed with the SC on its’ decision to lift the TRO allowing the appointments of OIC’s in ARMM. This time, it is the Palace disregarding an MR filed with the court even if a decision on the MR has yet to be made or as Lacierda said then, “procedural law” must be followed. Obviously, the Palace decides when and when not to follow “procedural law,” in contradiction of itself. We now have a situation where the Palace has all but taken over the duties and function of the Supreme Court as provided for in the Constitution leaving the Supreme Court inutile. We are in the “eye of a Constitutional Crisis storm.” And we have the amateurs calling the shots. A little knowledge can, indeed, be dangerous.

########

In the coming impeachment trial, there will be two competing schools of thought to try and gain support from the public, which in turn is supposed to influence the Senators, particularly, the re-electionists. The first is the administration’s line that the battle between PNoy and Corona is about the decisions of the Supreme Court that have favored GMA to the detriment of PNoy’s crusade against corruption, and accountability.
The opposing opinion is that the “battle” is actually in retaliation against the Supreme Court’s decision ordering the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land to the tenant farmers; also, the anticipated ruling on how much will be paid out (“just compensation”) to the family of PNoy for the 5,000 hectare property which could be anywhere from zero to P300M, to P6B, to P12B or more depending on how “friendly” the court is but definitely friendlier with an ousted Corona. The amount is compelling enough for anyone to try and secure the much bigger amount for one’s family, whether one is President or not.
Of course, the “PR spins” will obfuscate these two plausible and most likely reasons and will replace them with loftier issues like “separation of power,” “constitutional mandates,” “court independence,” “dictatorial tendencies,” and other empty platitudes both sides are able to muster. The real reasons are more mundane if not scandalous than what we will be hearing from Malacanang and from the Senator judges, none of whom are expected to vote according to the merits and evidences brought forward by the prosecutors and the defense. This is a political exercise even if we will be hearing from the politicians that it is not. In truth, things are usually the opposite of what politicians say they are anyway. With that, life goes on…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Lower House Is “Lower” In More Ways Than One

For Friday/ December 16, 2011
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

The Lower House, in lightning speed, impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona early this week upon orders of President Aquino, unprecedented in the Philippines for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Most of the signatories to the Articles of Impeachment were allegedly not allowed to read the complaint and simply followed what was asked of them by PNoy, and signed away without bothering to peruse the documents. This is not surprising considering the last administration had the same iron grip hold over the lower house. What is surprising, or maybe not, is PNoy (chief engineer of “daang matuwid”) is now doing what he criticized in GMA regarding the use or abuse of Congress as a personal tool in legitimizing whatever the President wants done, brazenly or otherwise. True, there is nothing illegal in the way the impeachment was carried out but as far as Congress is concerned, the elected Representatives did themselves and their institution another disservice in their obsequiousness and blind obedience, but we won’t count on that giving them sleepless nights. In fact, the most discomfort they probably felt from their shameless action was their pot-bellies grumbled in hunger due to the five hours it took to formalize the impeachment, scandalously haste by any standards.
PNoy, a non-lawyer, has accused the Chief Justice of being a stumbling block in his crusade against corruption as can supposedly be gleaned from the decisions of the Supreme Court that prevent him from “nailing” GMA, an obsession of his since taking power. The President claims the people are “behind him” in his assault on the High Court Justices, most of whom are GMA appointees. By cleverly lumping Corona and GMA in one bag, the people are probably, indeed, supportive of him but more so against GMA, still the “kiss of death,” rather than against Corona who is not all that well known, to the masses at least.

To claim to know why a Justice of the Supreme Court decides on a case the way he does is to attribute to oneself supernatural powers – how else? Of course, it is natural for anyone appointed to the stratospheric position of Justice of the Supreme Court of the land to be grateful to the appointing power, that much even a grade-schooler would know. But to what degree and manner this gratitude will play out during the term of a Supreme Court Justice will, firstly, not be uniform between all of them; and, secondly, it cannot be presumed by anyone to result in making biased decisions to favor the appointing power. It is just as easy to make conclusions about the actions taken by the President and say that his reason for ravaging the Supreme Court is in retaliation to the Supreme Court decision, with finality, ordering PNoy’s family to distribute their land in Hacienda Luisita, a 6,000 hectare property the President grew up in and the symbol of their family’s wealth and power. One could even add that it would also serve to put fear in the Justices so they will know to concur with his family on the price the government “must” pay them as “just compensation” for their land when the time comes to determine that. Of course, that is just as presumptuous, if not preposterous, as claiming to know the motives of the Justices. But what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander and it’s not difficult to imagine why losing one’s ancestral land is a pretty compelling reason to be very pissed at who caused it and that the only remaining recourse for that situation is to ensure that the “just compensation” is to the liking of the owners. The actual amount could literally be anywhere from zero to P5B Pesos. The latter amount, if you divide that among, say, 30 grandchildren, comes out to about One Hundred Sixty Six Million Pesos each or $4M (each!!) – no P-Nuts for anyone that could be watching the impeachment trial from the Senate’s plenary hall gallery.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

“Where Is the Justice?”

For Dec. 13, 2011
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

So, the cat is out of the bag. The dye was cast as early as when the TRO was issued allowing GMA to travel, but was ordered stopped at the airport and prevented from leaving by Secretary de Lima, and the rest is history still in the making. According to Speaker of the House Sonny Belmonte, a “furious” Aquino had made it known to him that he wanted Corona out of the picture and no matter which words you choose to say that to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, it could only mean “impeachment,” a process that must emanate from the Lower House, they having the exclusive power to impeach officials holding specific positions in government including that of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. So the Speaker,the good soldier that he is, began work on building a case that they now hope will culminate in the prosecution of Chief Justice Corona. It seems PNoy has learned well from GMA how to control the Lower House, the other half of Congress that lends itself easy to being a tool, a lap dog – as they used to call it during GMA’s time — of the Presidency. And with the persistent denial coming from the Palace claiming PNoy had no knowledge of it even after Cavite Representative Joseph E.A. Abaya had already revealed to media that President Aquino wanted a “fast” impeachment of Corona at the time of the issuance of the TRO, the comedic zarsuela was complete a la GMA style. Obviously, “pork” still tastes as good now as it did then, but that’s something some opposition Representatives wouldn’t know. So, what happens next?

Christmas being around the corner, it should go to the Senate for adjudication, but not until next year, with the Senators sitting in as judges in a trial that will be more political than judicial. Again, as was the case with the filing of the articles of impeachment in the Lower House, it still is basically a numbers game in the Senate where a 2/3 vote is needed to obtain a “guilty” verdict. That’s not as easy as mustering the signatures of 1/3 of the members of the Lower House needed to approve a motion to impeach.

The looming battle will be in winning the support of the majority of the public at large to pressure the Senators to either convict or acquit or be damned come election time. In that sense, it is a PR battle for “perception.” If Corona is painted into a corner together with the “demonized” GMA, I think he would already have lost the battle. For him to beat this, he will have to be perceived as the representative of the last bastion of democracy and as the titular and legitimate head of the Judiciary branch of government wanting to be chopped off by the Executive branch of government; and for icing on the cake, a victim of a vengeful President retaliating against the Supreme Court decision to distribute the land in Hacienda Luisita to the tenant farmers. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, that decision came about around the same time the TRO was issued and disobeyed by the Secretary of Justice. To say that the Supreme Court decision (unanimous, including votes of Aquino appointed Justices) to distribute the land of Hacienda Luisita is of no consequence to the President is to believe that the loss of the Jose Cojuangco, Sr. (lolo of PNoy) ancestral home, of the hacienda PNoy knew from birth, the “crown jewels” of his clan, the symbol of the Cojuangco wealth and power for half a century, the 6,000 hectare “playground” to three generations of his mother’s family, and the bond that has kept their family together “in wealth and in wealth,” had no effect on PNoy. If we believe that, then we might as well believe that Corona and GMA are strangers to each other and FG is not corrupt. Let the games begin!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“A Clear View of What is Right and What is Wrong”

For Friday/ Dec. 8, 2011
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

“I did not finish Law, but I grew up with a clear view of what is right and what is wrong, of what is pro-people and what is corrupt.” This was part of what the President said in his infamous speech at the opening of the First National Criminal Justice Summit at the Manila Hotel. That he did not finish law nobody will contest that nor did anyone for even one second suspect that he did.

If he has a “clear view of what is right and what is wrong, what is pro-people and what is corrupt,” why aren’t we hearing him denounce unfalteringly the three thousand smuggled containers early this year as was widely published a couple of months ago but we no longer hear about? Why does he not use as an example of his pro-people commitment the serving of justice to the victims of the Mendiola and Luisita massacres, both of which, after all these years, have yet to see somebody arraigned in court?

Was the obvious haste in the manner the charges were filed against GMA, and the all-time record speed in which the search warrant was served, in the realm of right or of wrong? Is the waste of time in persecuting one individual instead of focusing on bringing the economy forward right or wrong? And finally, was the repeated attempts in circumventing the law time and again since 1968 to cling on to Hacienda Luisita in order to continually “milk it” for the benefit of one family taught to him as being right or as being wrong?

And to cite the recent behavior of the President regarding the Marcos burial at the LNMB, it was published early this year that PNoy publicly stated that he was biased on the issue and so would leave the decision to Binay whom he tasked to consult with the various sectors of society and make a recommendation. Binay did just that and gave his report to the President recommending a full state burial but in his hometown province of Ilocos Norte. Again, days, weeks, months went by and suddenly, speaking at the anniversary of FOCAP, the President announced that no way under his watch will Marcos be given state honors and a burial at the LNMB and added that Marcos “master-minded” the sufferings experienced by the human rights victims under Martial law. In short, he went from declaring he was inhibiting himself from the burial issue to making the decision anyway, thus, rendering a decision that by his own admission was biased. So, is it right for him to be making biased decisions as he himself admitted, but wrong for Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona to do the same – assuming the Chief Justice is, indeed, biased? And for the record, all judgements made by Corona on cases involving GMA were made along with the majority and at times, unanimously, but never was it a swing vote. In short, had he inhibited himself in all those GMA cases, the decisions of the court would not have been different.

And on the second part of his statement that he is also supposed to know – “what is pro-people and what is corrupt” – does the President share the same criteria and conclusion on the matter with the farmers in Luisita? It would help us all to begin to understand the President’s concept of “right and wrong,” of “pro-people and corrupt,” if he would elucidate us more on these questions and enlighten us with his “clear view” on these issues because judging from what we’ve just mentioned above, the only thing clear about his “clear view” is it is one big contradiction.

Perhaps, we should also be asking him when it was that he started to grow up — before or after he supported the “oust ERAP movement” that installed GMA as President? Before or after the DAR under Gloria ordered the scrapping of the “stock option” of the farmers of Hacienda Luisita?

Leave a comment

Filed under Goings-on in Manila, Philippine Politics, Philippines

“It’s the Economy Stupid!”

For Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

This is a country that recognizes free speech as a basic right and one that is enshrined in our Constitution. From the beggar in the street to the President of the Republic, we are allowed to speak our minds freely. But in the case of the President, there are certain protocols that must be followed to maintain the dignity of the office. What P-Noy did by way of his harshly critical speech in the 1st National Criminal Justice Summit last Monday was uncalled for. His tirade against Chief Justice Renato Corona was discourteous to say the least. P-Noy, a non-lawyer, speaking in front of Justices and Judges, harangued them about law, the correct interpretation of the law, and basically told them that the Supreme Court has not been objective and has been partisan in their decisions and beholden to the one that appointed them. Now, to use a sixties expression, that’s “heavy!” Two questions quickly come to mind: 1) Are the P-Noy Supreme Court Justice appointees also biased in favor of P-Noy and if not, what makes them more special and capable of impartiality than the GMA appointees? 2) Would it be proper for the Supreme Court Justices to go around town criticizing the economic policies of P-Noy in light of economic indicators showing a poor performance in the last 4 quarters and asking for his resignation? And as an added final question: amidst this battle royale, who’s minding the store? Last time I looked, it was still the same phrase that had the most import: “it’s the economy stupid!”

#############

The PNP looks like its trying to finally get its act together in the wake of the scandalous helicopter bidding during GMA’s time where the specs, the price, and the entire bidding process was “pre-baked” and totally opaque to favor a single supplier. Now comes a bidding for twelve thousand five hundred pieces of 9mm caliber pistols as part of its modernization and Capability Enhancement Program (CEP), something that seems long over-due. It’s also supposed to partially fill the estimated 40% deficit in firearms of its uniformed personnel and equally important, to standardize their guns. Its amazing how what’s supposed to be elementary and common sense – that they carry the same kind of pistol — is only now being addressed. Quoting from the publicized statement of Usec. Rico E. Puno of the DILG, “Not only was the bidding process followed strictly, but we also made sure that the specifications and acceptance parameters were constantly monitored and transparent throughout the bidding process, thereby ensuring that the best price, quality and performance to be the only basis in the acquisition of the Philippine National Police’s official-issued pistols.” We’re pretty sure Mr. Puno knows what he’s talking about as competition shooters here in the Philippines are a relatively small club and as far as his reputation goes among them, they will attest that he should know what he’s doing. This is one time we can be glad that the person overseeing this important aspect of the PNP’s Capability Enhancement Program is a “member” of P-Noy’s KKK. We wish them success and hope they do not forget other more basic aspects in their training starting with physical fitness.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“They Will Survive”

For Friday/Dec. 2, 2011
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

The latest on GMA’s fate is an order from the lower court to have the former President transferred to a state hospital naming the Veterans Memorial Medical Center as one with adequate security and competent medical doctors to address her needs. Meanwhile, there is a pending motion from GMA’s lawyers requesting that she be placed under house arrest. The joint Comelec-DOJ panel that filed the electoral charges against her would like to see her behind bars and the general perception is whatever the panel wants is a mere echo of what the Palace wants. The President still enjoys popular support and continuously gets it from media in general; but recently publicized economic figures, the dip in the 3rd quarter economic growth in particular, will make it difficult for some of his supporters to continue singing praises in light of the low 3.2% growth in the 3rd quarter of this year. That makes it 5 consecutive quarterly dips in economic growth figures and someone is bound to shout the famous US President Bill Clinton era saying: “it’s the economy stupid!” This is particularly stinging for a President that’s been accused of doing many other things but “minding the store.” And this accusation does have bearing to accusations that he is obsessed with seeing GMA behind bars for reasons of vindictiveness as not a few have pointed out including European Institute for Asian Studies, vice chairman Dick Gupwell Either way, the figures do indicate that he is not minding the store. In this country of forgiveness, people will allow you almost anything as long as you keep their plates with food coming. When the reverse happens, you can expect a multitude of issues big as mountains that would have been mere mole-hills had most people’s stomachs been satisfied. The outlook based on world economic trends does not look very good for PNoy’s economic forecast and since he has been careless in making more political enemies than consolidating political alliances, a change in the direction of the “popularity” winds will make it doubly hard for him to recover with less political allies to support him. It must be remembered that the President has had no experience in leading the “yellow brigade” prior to the death of his mother and it is only now that we will see how politically astute he is especially during a political crisis — when it happens.
###########################

With the year coming to an end, the farmers in Hacienda Luisita will still not be spending Christmas in a property they can call their own. It will take much longer than that for an actual distribution to take place and land titles transferred to their names. But, for now, they will “survive” and the family of the Aquino-Cojuangco’s will likewise “survive.” That was the assurance given to all by Kris Aquino in a Tweet she made soon after the Supreme Court ruling was announced. Aren’t we glad the farmers in Luisita are not yet familiar with the Twitter social platform. That statement could have been the spark of an armed revolution right there. She continually gives new meaning to “loose cannon.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized