BABE ROMUALDEZ: JUSTICE CARPIO LEGAL MIND BEHIND PHL ARBITRATION CASE ON SEA DISPUTE

Now it can be told: The case filed by the Philippines before the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague challenging China’s claims over disputed maritime territories based on the so-called nine-dash line was based on Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s legal work on the issue. According to an insider, Justice Carpio has been a secret consultant of the DFA regarding the West Philippine Sea, with the President getting a briefing on Carpio’s position. The Senior SC Associate Justice also correctly predicted that world opinion will eventually swing against China – finding itself getting isolated if it sticks to its hard line stance. A lawyer friend who obtained a copy of Justice Carpio’s lecture titled “Historical Facts, Historical Lies, and Historical Rights In the West Philippine Sea” at La Salle last week said he found the presentation comprehensive and compelling with maps, international cases, rulings and recorded events cited as basis for the Philippine position. Carpio debunked China’s assertion of the so-called “historical facts” and its insistence that the nine-dash line claim is based on international law, pointing out that in the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct, China agreed that the maritime disputes in the South China Sea shall be resolved in accordance with universally recognized principles on international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. UNCLOS is the primary international law governing the use of the oceans and the seas, and although it only regulates claims and disputes but not territorial disputes, there is no mention whatsoever in the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct that “historical facts” shall also be the basis in resolving maritime disputes. READ MORE...

(ALSO) Jose C. Sison: Independence and freedom

Yesterday, June 12, was supposed to be the 116th anniversary of our independence as a sovereign nation. Being a non-working holiday it gave me time to pause and ponder on several questions about the occasion. Immediately coming to mind is the date June 12 and the question that cropped up is: did we really gain our independence on said date 116 years ago or in 1898? ------JUMPING TO LAST PARAGRAPH: Indeed the more pressing issue besetting us right now is not the date when we should celebrate our independence day. We may have actually gained our political independence but are we really free socially and economically? History will once more prove that since Spanish times up to the present, our government has been in the hands of ruling elites and dynasties where the rich becomes richer and the poor, poorer. In fact our rulers through all these times have seen to it that the majority of our people are fully dependent on them and owe them a big debt of gratitude so that come election time, they are able to retain power personally and through their successors-in-interest by capturing the votes of this poor and uneducated electorate. This greed for power has engendered the greed for money that has become the biggest source of corruption in government. And right now, we are witnessing the worst corruption in government through the unabated use of the Congressional pork barrel called PDAF. More sickening is that this administration has even concocted it own presidential pork barrel called the DAP. It is about time therefore that like the PDAF, these DAP and other lump sum public funds released at the discretion of the President should be abolished and declared unconstitutional. Otherwise our country and people will never be socially and economically free as the political oligarch continue to hold sway. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Jose Ma. Montelibano: Freedom is not Independence

Indeed, we have freedom. Sadly, we have no independence. There is a struggle to be won, not against an external aggressor, but against our own weakness. Free but dependent. That is the Filipino, the collective Filipino. There are changes, of course, but not yet enough to earn independence. Not until we rise above our poverty, not until we rise above corruption. With half of Filipinos believing themselves to be poor, and ten million reported to be working abroad at the cost of separation from their families during the best years of their lives, independence remains a struggle of a free people. Freedom may mean we rule ourselves instead of submitting to a foreign power, but independence is a collective standing on our own two feet – and we do not. In a homeland that is blessed with awesome abundance, poverty haunts Filipinos in great numbers. Definitely, our Overseas Filipino Workers have dramatically lessened the numbers of the poor. By doing so, they have raised the level of our self-reliance, our independence. But they do so feeling forced, wanting to rise above their inherited poverty in the bosom of their motherland but not being able to. It is a choice made from freedom but difficult to say the choice was independent.
We have paid a great price for our freedom. Four hundred years of enduring the rule of foreign masters, and the wars they had waged against each other, the freedom we gained in 1946 put us squarely against a more insidious enemy – our own patterned conditioning. History had been most unkind these last four centuries. We tasted the loss of our freedom, we tasted the iron hand of colonialism, we even became witness to the betrayal of some of our own who chose to collaborate with the enemy for ten pieces of silver. The harshest of all, though, is that too many of us lost our anger and learned to accept submission as a way of life. Poverty does that. Poverty keeps a human being and a family at survival mode. Foreign masters had to plunder our native resources; that was why they conquered us in the first place. They had to make us poor, then weak. That was the only way to exploit us on a prolonged and sustained basis. It meant bribing local leaders to help them exercise control over a native population that far outnumbered them. Greed is such a powerful motivation for treason, just as fear, and the foreign masters knew how to stoke both.READ MORE...

(ALSO) Standard Editorial: King of corruption

MAKE no mistake. Regardless of the claims of his minions and media cohorts, President Benigno Aquino III presides over a corrupt government that strays with stomach-turning regularity from its self-pronounced straight path. Just last week, the director of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and 12 jail guards were relieved after it was revealed that they gave special treatment to high-profile convicts. Among these was a convicted drug lord who was transferred to a private hospital in Manila where he entertained a starlet in his room. At least two other high-profile inmates were allowed to leave the NBP maximum security compound to go to private hospitals in May, further investigation showed. This corruption of the justice system is something President Aquino cannot lay on the doorstep of his predecessor. As Mr. Aquino likes to point out, the record speaks for itself. And what a dismal record it has been. In May 2011, Aquino was forced to relieve a shooting buddy he appointed as director of the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor), Ernesto Diokno, after he allowed as many as 400 high-profile inmates, including a convicted killer and former governor, to leave NBP on day trips without authorization. In the wake of the scandal, Mr. Aquino appointed Gaudencio Pangilinan, a retired general who was facing a plunder suit, to replace his disgraced Bucor chief. Pangilinan, too, left office under a cloud, after a high-profile convicted killer was kidnapped inside the NBP grounds. Despite a fact-finding report that showed rampant corruption under Pangilinan’s watch, Mr. Aquino’s Justice secretary filed no charges. Instead, she announced the appointment of yet another Bucor chief, Franklin Jesus Bucayu, in March 2013. His appointment, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said, bore the promise of “a new paradigm in the management of our prisons.” Last week’s revelations clear show, however, there has been no paradigm shift, no promised change and certainly no reforms. As in the previous cases, the Justice secretary announced an investigation, a process that grows less and less credible each time the administration gives its questionable appointees a pass. Even more laughable was the announcement that the administration plans to move the NBP to Nueva Ecija, as if moving the prison away from public scrutiny would somehow solve the deeply ingrained corruption in the penal system. Sadly, Mr. Aquino runs the country in much the same way that he runs the penal system—protecting appointees, regardless of their guilt. READ MORE...

(ALSO) ROD KAPUNAN: Supreme Court can’t decide otherwise

Whoever conceived the idea of using pork-scammer Janet Napoles to pin down politicians singled out by this administration must surely be afflicted with some kind of subliminal hatred against the very government he is serving. Even the thought of taking in the longtime confidant of Napoles who turned himself in as whistleblower to make sure this government will have an air-tight case against the three senators namely: Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla will not help sanitize them from being involved in the syndicated looting of public funds sarcastically branded in the name of “development.” It is for this why the public believes the Supreme Court could not render a verdict upholding the legality and constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) without irreparably damaging the institution. The issue is not that President Aquino down to his Department of the Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad personally met or transacted with Napoles, but on how the latter managed to routinely get hold of those public funds as though she was fetching water from a natural spring. To clear ourselves, any criminal cases that will be filed against Napoles, and the three opposition senators could only prosper after a case has been filed against Abad and his retinue in the DBM, and those do-gooders in the Commission on Audit (COA). This tuwid na daan must file a case, prosecute and possibly convict Abad and company. We are saying this because the issue that has to be resolved first which is whether Napoles actually received the money, and spent the funds not in accordance with the purpose to which they were released. In which case, Abad will be forced to confess that the looting was made possible because he allowed it to happen. To put it straight, it must be established that Napoles received the PDAF and the DAP funds from Abad and company before this pathetic government could proceed to file a case against Napoles for plunder and malversation of public funds. The defense raised by Malacañang that there was no special allotment release order (SARO) to belie the charge of Napoles that Abad also benefited from the PDAF and DAP funds is irrelevant. READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Justice Carpio legal mind behind Phl arbitration case


By Babe G. Romualdez

MANILA, JUNE 16, 2014 (PHILSTAR) SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez - Now it can be told: The case filed by the Philippines before the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague challenging China’s claims over disputed maritime territories based on the so-called nine-dash line was based on Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s legal work on the issue. According to an insider, Justice Carpio has been a secret consultant of the DFA regarding the West Philippine Sea, with the President getting a briefing on Carpio’s position. The Senior SC Associate Justice also correctly predicted that world opinion will eventually swing against China – finding itself getting isolated if it sticks to its hard line stance.

A lawyer friend who obtained a copy of Justice Carpio’s lecture titled “Historical Facts, Historical Lies, and Historical Rights In the West Philippine Sea” at La Salle last week said he found the presentation comprehensive and compelling with maps, international cases, rulings and recorded events cited as basis for the Philippine position.

Carpio debunked China’s assertion of the so-called “historical facts” and its insistence that the nine-dash line claim is based on international law, pointing out that in the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct, China agreed that the maritime disputes in the South China Sea shall be resolved in accordance with universally recognized principles on international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. UNCLOS is the primary international law governing the use of the oceans and the seas, and although it only regulates claims and disputes but not territorial disputes, there is no mention whatsoever in the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct that “historical facts” shall also be the basis in resolving maritime disputes.

Even if such historical facts were true relative to discovery and exploration (even before the 15th century), they have no bearing whatsoever in the resolution of maritime disputes under UNCLOS, he said.

Neither Spain nor Portugal can ever revive their 15th century ownership claims over most of the oceans and seas on earth despite the 1481 Papal Bull confirming the division of the then undiscovered world between Spain and Portugal, Carpio pointed out.

Thus, Chinese assertions about the sea voyages of an Admiral Zheng cannot be the basis for claiming the whole of the South China Sea – which was not even named by the Chinese, but by European navigators and cartographers.

For example, can India claim the whole Indian Ocean, or can Mexico claim the Gulf of Mexico on the basis of these “historical names”?

Likewise, the Philippines cannot claim the Philippine Sea just because historically this body of water was named after our country, the SC Justice reasoned. He also added that a state cannot maintain title to territory based on discovery alone where subsequent to such discovery another state has shown “continuous and peaceful display of territorial sovereignty” over the same territory.

“The continued validity of one’s title over a territory in the 16th century requires compliance with new conditions required by evolving international law for the acquisition of such title,” he stressed, with the consent of the people in disputed territories now paramount to any claim as embodied in the right to self-determination of nations that were conquered or colonized by other states.

The lecture presentation is very substantive with maps, illustrations and historical records and scholarly work cited. The claim by China that the islands, rocks, reefs as well as the waters enclosed by its nine-dash line (which Carpio described as “a gigantic historical fraud”) is based on ancient history is “glaringly false,” and patently contrary to indisputable historical facts, he reiterated, explaining that since 6,000 years ago, the “South China Sea has been the migration and trading routes, as well as the fishing grounds, of all the peoples and states bordering the South China Sea.”

Historical rights have no place in the South China Sea, the lecture concludes, because fishing rights that other states historically enjoyed were terminated by the UNCLOS via the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the adjacent coastal state.

That is why this 200 NM zone is called exclusive – no state other than the adjacent coastal state can economically exploit its resources.

PetroTiger’s costly lesson

We came across this interesting Wall Street Journal piece by Joel Schectman about the case of former AG&P chairman Joseph Sigelman who was indicted by a New Jersey Federal Grand Jury for fraud, money laundering and bribery. The piece summed up how a Canadian pension plan looking for higher returns on its investments found itself mired in a scandal and ended up reporting bribery allegations against the US founders of a Colombian oil firm.

Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCO) invested $85 million in PetroTiger founded by Knut Hammarskjold and Sigelman, with the latter’s legendary success and his sales pitch impressing then-AIMCO vice president Brain Gibson. Little did the Canadian pension firm know that the PetroTiger board was already disputing with management – precisely because “when people try to sell you a business, they don’t tell you all their dirty laundry,” Gibson recalled. Pretty soon, the board ousted Sigelman and Hammarskjold, and an investigation was soon launched on company books.

That’s when they discovered the “consulting invoice” paid to the wife of an official at the state-owned Ecopetrol – the same one who gave PetroTiger a $39-million contract. Fearing responsibility for any misconduct that might have been committed by Sigelman and Hammarskjold, the PetroTiger board reported the suspected bribery violation to US prosecutors.

Lesson: Take a closer look at company expenses and review every invoice immediately after investing in a company, Gibson said.

Independence and freedom A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


By Jose C. Sison

POSTED JUNE 13, 2014
Yesterday, June 12, was supposed to be the 116th anniversary of our independence as a sovereign nation. Being a non-working holiday it gave me time to pause and ponder on several questions about the occasion.

Immediately coming to mind is the date June 12 and the question that cropped up is: did we really gain our independence on said date 116 years ago or in 1898?

A brief review of our history shows that on said date, June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed our independence as a nation at his residence in Kawit, Cavite after being brought back from exile in Hong Kong by the Americans on May 19, 1898. The ceremony simply consisted of the unfurling of our National Flag made in Hong Kong by Marcela Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo and Delfina Herboza during Aguinaldo’s exile there. The flag’s unfurling was accompanied by the singing of our national anthem, then called Marcha Filipina Magdalo, now known as Lupang Hinirang composed by Julian Felipe and played at that time by the San Francisco de Malabon marching band. Following the ceremony was the signing of the Act of Declaration of Independence prepared, written and read in Spanish by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista. It was signed by 98 people including an American Colonel of the Artillery, a certain Mr. L.M. Johnson.

The said proclamation was actually the culmination of the Philippine Revolution against Spain started mainly by Andres Bonifacio in 1896 that ended in a truce between the revolutionaries and the Spanish government in December 1897 by the signing of the Pact of Biak na Bato. The said pact required Spain to pay P800,000 to the revolutionaries and for Emilio Aguinaldo to go into exile in Hong Kong.

However, certain significant events happening immediately prior to the said proclamation somehow cast a shadow of doubt on whether we indeed became independent on said date. These were the outbreak of the Spanish-American war barely two months before or in April 1898 and the quick defeat of the Spanish Fleet by the US Naval forces under Commodore George Dewey in the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898. Such defeat led to the signing of the Treaty of Paris between the US and Spain in which Spain ceded the Philippines to the US. Actually therefore, we never became an independent and sovereign nation on June 12, 1898. Our country was already a US territory at that time. In fact the Proclamation of Philippine independence promulgated by the Aguinaldo government on August 1, 1898 essentially placed the Philippines under the protection of the United States.

Thus the struggle for independence continued even thereafter. Our revolutionary government did not recognize the Treaty of Paris or the American sovereignty. So we launched war against America which also ended in our defeat when Aguinaldo was captured by the US forces and issued a statement acknowledging and accepting the sovereignty of the United States over the Philippines. Thus provincial civil governments were established in the country under the supervision and control of American Governor-Generals except in certain portions of Mindanao inhabited by the Moro tribes which continued to resist the American rule.

From 1898 to 1946 therefore our country was a US territory despite the Japanese occupation during World War II from 1941 to 1946, when we had a government in exile headed by Manuel L. Quezon later succeeded by Sergio Osmena Sr. upon his death at the height of the campaign to retake our country from the Japanese. The fight with the Japanese lasted until the official surrender of the Empire on September 2, 1945.

It can be said therefore that our country gained complete independence only on July 4, 1946 when the US relinquished its sovereignty over the Philippine Archipelago with all the islands and waters embraced therein to our own democratic and republican form of government. Initially, the grant of independence was with strings attached as the US retained several military bases and required certain economic conditions like imposing US import quotas on Philippine articles that substantially compete with US products and requiring that US citizens and corporations be granted equal access to Philippine minerals, forests and other natural resources. But now all these strings no longer exist.

Thus, from the purely political point of view we did not actually become independent on June 12, 1896 when Aguinaldo declared our independence from Spain at his residence in Kawit, Cavite. Indeed even after raising our National Flag and singing our national anthem, our country remained a territory of Spain and subsequently of the US which never recognized Aguinaldo’s declaration.

Thus, President Diosdado Macapagal seemed to have been ill advised in signing R.A. 4166 into law designating June 12 as the country’s Independence Day. It is not an occasion at all for us to be happy and to celebrate since we did not really regain our freedom and sovereignty as a nation on said day. For history’s sake, we can just continue celebrating it as the Philippine Flag Day as we used to when we can display our flags in public places and offices and even in private houses and office buildings. July 4 is the more appropriate date to celebrate our independence. Our sense of nationalism will remain intact even if such day coincides with the independence day of the USA.

Indeed the more pressing issue besetting us right now is not the date when we should celebrate our independence day. We may have actually gained our political independence but are we really free socially and economically?

History will once more prove that since Spanish times up to the present, our government has been in the hands of ruling elites and dynasties where the rich becomes richer and the poor, poorer. In fact our rulers through all these times have seen to it that the majority of our people are fully dependent on them and owe them a big debt of gratitude so that come election time, they are able to retain power personally and through their successors-in-interest by capturing the votes of this poor and uneducated electorate.

This greed for power has engendered the greed for money that has become the biggest source of corruption in government. And right now, we are witnessing the worst corruption in government through the unabated use of the Congressional pork barrel called PDAF. More sickening is that this administration has even concocted it own presidential pork barrel called the DAP. It is about time therefore that like the PDAF, these DAP and other lump sum public funds released at the discretion of the President should be abolished and declared unconstitutional. Otherwise our country and people will never be socially and economically free as the political oligarch continue to hold sway.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Freedom is not Independence By Jose Ma. Montelibano 12:05 am | Friday, June 13th, 2014


Jose Ma. Montelibano

Indeed, we have freedom. Sadly, we have no independence. There is a struggle to be won, not against an external aggressor, but against our own weakness.

Free but dependent. That is the Filipino, the collective Filipino. There are changes, of course, but not yet enough to earn independence. Not until we rise above our poverty, not until we rise above corruption.

With half of Filipinos believing themselves to be poor, and ten million reported to be working abroad at the cost of separation from their families during the best years of their lives, independence remains a struggle of a free people.

Freedom may mean we rule ourselves instead of submitting to a foreign power, but independence is a collective standing on our own two feet – and we do not.

In a homeland that is blessed with awesome abundance, poverty haunts Filipinos in great numbers. Definitely, our Overseas Filipino Workers have dramatically lessened the numbers of the poor. By doing so, they have raised the level of our self-reliance, our independence. But they do so feeling forced, wanting to rise above their inherited poverty in the bosom of their motherland but not being able to. It is a choice made from freedom but difficult to say the choice was independent.

We have paid a great price for our freedom. Four hundred years of enduring the rule of foreign masters, and the wars they had waged against each other, the freedom we gained in 1946 put us squarely against a more insidious enemy – our own patterned conditioning. History had been most unkind these last four centuries. We tasted the loss of our freedom, we tasted the iron hand of colonialism, we even became witness to the betrayal of some of our own who chose to collaborate with the enemy for ten pieces of silver. The harshest of all, though, is that too many of us lost our anger and learned to accept submission as a way of life.

Poverty does that. Poverty keeps a human being and a family at survival mode. Foreign masters had to plunder our native resources; that was why they conquered us in the first place. They had to make us poor, then weak. That was the only way to exploit us on a prolonged and sustained basis. It meant bribing local leaders to help them exercise control over a native population that far outnumbered them. Greed is such a powerful motivation for treason, just as fear, and the foreign masters knew how to stoke both.

When freedom wins for us the absence of foreign rule, it does not win for us everything else. The loss of inner strength, the loss of confidence from a loss of opportunity, and continuing governance that copies the exploitative bent of the past masters instead of one that seeks democratic empowerment had stunted independence despite freedom from external rule.

People can confuse freedom with independence. This confusion is aggravated when leaders do not guide them firmly and effectively away from begging and towards self-reliance, and actually perpetuates exploitation. That exploitation of power, always accompanied with material gain, is what is known as corruption. Nothing encourages corruption more than poverty in the midst of plenty. History, too, negates the assumption that the rich do not need to take advantage of power; it is almost always the opposite.

No wonder, then, that in the midst of plenty, in the midst not only of natural resources so mind-boggling in their abundance but also of an economy that thrives from remittances and the aggressive intelligence of the elite, corruption defines governance at all levels. Statesmanship is lost when power has open access to wealth. The common good is nowhere as inviting as personal gain for those who govern when a country has great wealth but a poor population. Inner temptation can be a more formidable enemy than a foreign invader.

It does not mean that change for the better is not possible. A crusading president, if the crusade outweighs all other considerations, can make history turn. But he needs to be relentless in order to make history change its course. A leader cannot reverse patterns unless he or she has personally risen above these same patterns. All the more when the leader works within the confines of democratic rule because a system based on political maturity makes good governance almost impossible in a reality of selfish politics.

But leave it up to evolution to level the playing field. Tipping points are not only reached by personal efforts but maybe even more so by collective convergence. Our younger generations, complemented powerfully by awesome technological advances, now challenge the patterns of history and are actually winning. They have ripened the tipping point and guarantee radical changes. The culture of corruption dominates still but is severely challenged by the transparency triggered by technology and the surprising nobility of our youth.

The moment nears when freedom will finally find its sought-after independence. The moment nears when the poor will find kinder treatment and more value in society, when they will value themselves more. When they do, they will not tolerate poverty from inheritance. And they will stand up to the corrupt. It can be then said that the maturity of democracy is such a sweet fruit.

What stands between today and that coming moment is sacrifice and commitment. Those who seek a better life must invest more towards it. Those who advocate for change must be more single-minded in its pursuit. There will be no quantum leap from poverty and corruption to justice and prosperity, no quantum leap from freedom to freedom and independence without paying the price, a steep price.

Filipinos are paying the price.

MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL

King of corruption By Manila Standard Today | Jun. 09, 2014 at 12:01am
 

MAKE no mistake.

Regardless of the claims of his minions and media cohorts, President Benigno Aquino III presides over a corrupt government that strays with stomach-turning regularity from its self-pronounced straight path.

Just last week, the director of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and 12 jail guards were relieved after it was revealed that they gave special treatment to high-profile convicts. Among these was a convicted drug lord who was transferred to a private hospital in Manila where he entertained a starlet in his room.

At least two other high-profile inmates were allowed to leave the NBP maximum security compound to go to private hospitals in May, further investigation showed.

This corruption of the justice system is something President Aquino cannot lay on the doorstep of his predecessor.

As Mr. Aquino likes to point out, the record speaks for itself. And what a dismal record it has been.

In May 2011, Aquino was forced to relieve a shooting buddy he appointed as director of the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor), Ernesto Diokno, after he allowed as many as 400 high-profile inmates, including a convicted killer and former governor, to leave NBP on day trips without authorization.

In the wake of the scandal, Mr. Aquino appointed Gaudencio Pangilinan, a retired general who was facing a plunder suit, to replace his disgraced Bucor chief.

Pangilinan, too, left office under a cloud, after a high-profile convicted killer was kidnapped inside the NBP grounds. Despite a fact-finding report that showed rampant corruption under Pangilinan’s watch, Mr. Aquino’s Justice secretary filed no charges.

Instead, she announced the appointment of yet another Bucor chief, Franklin Jesus Bucayu, in March 2013. His appointment, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said, bore the promise of “a new paradigm in the management of our prisons.” Last week’s revelations clear show, however, there has been no paradigm shift, no promised change and certainly no reforms.

As in the previous cases, the Justice secretary announced an investigation, a process that grows less and less credible each time the administration gives its questionable appointees a pass.

Even more laughable was the announcement that the administration plans to move the NBP to Nueva Ecija, as if moving the prison away from public scrutiny would somehow solve the deeply ingrained corruption in the penal system.

Sadly, Mr. Aquino runs the country in much the same way that he runs the penal system—protecting appointees, regardless of their guilt.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who has been implicated in the pork barrel scam by at least three different whistle blowers, not only remains in office, but has 10 other relatives working in Mr. Aquino’s government, including members of his immediate family in key positions.

Amid mounting calls for Abad’s resignation by an outraged public, Mr. Aquino refuses to even consider launching an impartial investigation.

Truly, the crown of corruption sits easily on Mr. Aquino’s head, whether it is by design or sheer incompetence.

Supreme Court can’t decide otherwise By Rod Kapunan | Jun. 07, 2014 at 12:01am

Whoever conceived the idea of using pork-scammer Janet Napoles to pin down politicians singled out by this administration must surely be afflicted with some kind of subliminal hatred against the very government he is serving. Even the thought of taking in the longtime confidant of Napoles who turned himself in as whistleblower to make sure this government will have an air-tight case against the three senators namely: Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla will not help sanitize them from being involved in the syndicated looting of public funds sarcastically branded in the name of “development.”

It is for this why the public believes the Supreme Court could not render a verdict upholding the legality and constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) without irreparably damaging the institution. The issue is not that President Aquino down to his Department of the Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad personally met or transacted with Napoles, but on how the latter managed to routinely get hold of those public funds as though she was fetching water from a natural spring.

To clear ourselves, any criminal cases that will be filed against Napoles, and the three opposition senators could only prosper after a case has been filed against Abad and his retinue in the DBM, and those do-gooders in the Commission on Audit (COA). This tuwid na daan must file a case, prosecute and possibly convict Abad and company. We are saying this because the issue that has to be resolved first which is whether Napoles actually received the money, and spent the funds not in accordance with the purpose to which they were released.

In which case, Abad will be forced to confess that the looting was made possible because he allowed it to happen. To put it straight, it must be established that Napoles received the PDAF and the DAP funds from Abad and company before this pathetic government could proceed to file a case against Napoles for plunder and malversation of public funds. The defense raised by Malacañang that there was no special allotment release order (SARO) to belie the charge of Napoles that Abad also benefited from the PDAF and DAP funds is irrelevant.

Unless and until Abad and COA chairman Grace Pulido-Tan would allege in their defense that the whole scam was accomplished through forgery and falsification, or that Napoles scooped all the supporting documents including the checks that allowed her to encash them, there is no way they could escape liability.

Crucial to the sustainability of the criminal cases this pretending-to-be-honest government is contemplating to file against Napoles and against the three senators is for Malacañang and Abad to determine how much was lost as a result of the Napoles pork-barrel scam. If the government cannot fully account for the amount lost, then the government will have no case against Napoles and the three senators. In that case only Abad and his subordinates can testify the amount they released to finance those bogus NGOs of Napoles. Napoles cannot testify against herself.

It is for this reason why the magistrates cannot just proceed to try and possibly convict Napoles and the three senators ahead of Abad and those responsible officials who lackadaisically allowed the release of those funds. One cannot put the cart ahead of the horse unless those justices are willing to be branded as bunch of loonies because the scam would not have happened had Abad and company not slept on their duties like Rip Van Winkles.

If the release of the funds was characterized by conspiracy and collusion between Abad and Napoles, then there could be no reason to try them separately because in that instance, they acted as co-conspirators to defraud the government of its funds.

Some may call the demand of Napoles that she be given immunity or be allowed to stand as a state witness as silly. But there is logic in what she is saying because the crime could not have happened without the indispensible cooperation of Abad, as criminal lawyers would like to put it. In fact, his liability is heavier, for it was he who made sure the funds will end up in the hands of Napoles. There is even much doubt Abad could only be guilty of negligence for it now appears that it was he who induced PNoy to approve the release of those funds without any congressional appropriations. But Abad wanted to ingratiate himself by making his boss a financial mogul where he could freely dispose public funds to compel all those corrupt politicians to toe the line.

Once the Supreme Court declares the DAP unconstitutional and illegal, that automatically could open the door for President Aquino for impeachment for culpable violation of the Constitution. The High Court cannot just dismiss the nine petitions on the flimsy ground that the questioned act of the President has become moot for reason that he already stopped the practice of releasing funds without any appropriations. That weird theory of the Solicitor General would only prosper if there was a law that was declared unconstitutional, for which the President and Abad could raise the defense of good faith. In this case, there was a clear constitutional prohibition that PNoy premeditatedly ignored and violated.

Maybe because impeachment cases are considered political rather than criminal in this country, PNoy is confident he could get away with impeachment by just repeating his feat of bribing the senator-judges this time to vote for the opposite to what his yellow horde did to unceremoniously removed Chief Justice Renato Corona. Moreover, the claim of the World Bank that the illegal practice of the DAP contributed 1.3 percent in the growth of the country’s domestic product since the last quarter of 2012 is plain nonsense, for even if true that could not make an illegal act legal or as one would say non sequitur.

Finally, many are shaking their heads at the view advanced by former Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza that the nine petitions should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction for failing to exhaust all other remedies before bringing their case to the high court. Alas, at hand is not an administrative case where the petitioners are pleading to be clarified, but are accusing the President for culpable violation of the Constitution which undeniably is an impeachable offense. It is for this why the Supreme Court justices cannot just abnegate on their responsibility without being laughed at as chronically biased and spineless sycophants.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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