MALAYA OPINIONS

AMADO P. MACASAET: THE COURT AFTER AQUINO

JULY 4 --The president we will elect after Pnoy steps down on June 30, 2016 will appoint 11 justices, an overwhelming majority in the Supreme Court. Associate Justice Presbiterio Velasco will retire on Aug. 8, 2018, Antonio Carpio, on Oct. 26, 2019, Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro, Oct. 18, 2018; Arturo Brion, Dec. 29, 2016; Diosdado Peralta, March 27, 2022; Lucas Bersamin, Oct. 18, 2019; Mariano C. del Castillo, July 29, 2019; Jose C. Mendoza, Aug. 13, 1017; Bienvenido Reyes, July 6, 2017. Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe will reach the age of 70 on May 14, 2022. That is more than a year before the next President steps down on June 30, 2022. The number of jurists comes to 11 since Associate Justice Jose P. Perez will retire on Dec. 14, 2016, almost six months before the expiration of Aquino’s term. The new members of the Court may well have the same mind as those who will retire if they are picked by the new leader who won on the endorsement of President Aquino. They could be more difficult to deal with considering the fact that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes “Meilou” P.A. Sereno has not shown that she is able to lead the Court and she will retire in 18 more years. In a manner of speaking the inability of Chief Justice Sereno to lead the Court – not her court -- makes her a lame duck for the rest of her term. We may well have a Supreme Court headed by a “rubber stamp” in the person of the present Chief Justice, known to be eminently qualified for her brilliance in the law but who has long begun to show that she does not possess leadership qualities which are not learned in law schools. The reason for saying this is the voting on the unconstitutionality of the pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program. If she had the qualities of a leader, she would have been able to herd her Court or her peers to a decision that the DAP sits with the Constitution. Or at least the voting on unconstitutionality would be so tenuous as to cast doubt the minority may have its own reason to dissent. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) JOSE BAYANI BAYLON: TRUELY

JULY 4 --TODAY we celebrate Fil-Am Friendship Day. It’s used to be Independence Day for Filipinos like us, but in the 1960s our President then at that time, Diosdado Macapagal, who later on became the father of another president, Gloria, changed the day we celebrate Independence from July 4 to June 12. Some say he did that because he was not happy with the way the Americans were treating him; others say he did it because he just wanted to be patriotic. (Actually the first President Macapagal did not later on become the father of Gloria, because in the 1960s Gloria was already a little girl. In the 1960s he was already the father of Gloria and remained that way until he died. It was Gloria who later on became another president, despite the fact that she remained a little girl.) It is with much thanks to the Americans that many of us now speak English, some good, some better, some best. You see the different levels of English efficiency…I mean, proficiency…. on such sites as Facebook, where many post status updates in English that even the Queen of England might have a tough time understanding. Like when someone, obviously mad at another, shouted in a status post “Shut your mouth off”. Actually we could have had a chance to learn English the English way rather than the American way. Because the British actually occupied Manila, from 1762 to 1764, with the British fleet entering Manila Bay on 24 September 1762, 200 years plus a day before I was born. They stayed in Manila and parts of Cavite until April 1764, leaving when the Treaty of Paris that signaled the end of the Seven Years War in Europe was signed and Spain and England ceased to be at war. I suspect that the English/British would have stayed longer despite the end of hostilities in Europe because it’s more fun in the Philippines, right? Their continuing occupation would have changed the way we lived – because we would have become part not of the Roman Catholic Church (Spanish conservative version) but of the Church of England; our names would not have been Maria, Enrique and Jaime but Mary, Henry and James; our provinces would have taken such names as New South Wales, our towns New Liverpool, maybe Manila rechristened as New Manchester. Davao could have been renamed Dover; Cebu into Cornwall; Bacolod into Bristol and Puerto Princesa into Plymouth. And we would have changed he way we drove on the streets, from “keep right” to “keep left”. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) By Nestor Mata: NOYNOY AQUINO IS NOT A PEACEMAKER!

JULY 3 --WE are hearing talks about nominating President Noynoy Aquino for the Nobel Peace Prize, once again. The first time this notion came up was last March soon after the forging of a peace pact with just one of many rebel Muslim groups in strife-torn Mindanao and Sulu. His eager image-makers quickly hatched the idea, but it soon fizzled out until a few days ago when it was reported that one of the peace negotiators went to Norway to “lobby” for Aquino’s nomination. This was denied by Malacañang mouthpieces, but they slyly admitted there were “some groups” that wanted to nominate President Aquino for the coveted Norwegian peace prize. And Teresita Deles, chief of peace pact negotiators, who was indeed in Oslo last week, denied having talked to anyone there about the prize. Well, despite the signing of that peace accord, which is not even in effect, and its constitutionality likely to be questioned before the Supreme Court, there is still no peace and tranquillity in Mindanao, and violations of human rights in Muslim communities continue, and civilians displaced by military operations. In other words, there is absolutely no basis for Aquino’s nomination for the Peace Prize. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) MALAYA EDITORIAL: LAST TWO MINUTES, THAT IS, YEARS 

JUNE 30 --TODAY, Benigno Simeon Aquino III marks his fourth year in office as the nation’s chief executive. Two more years and Aquino will be judged by the public he fondly calls as “boss” fairly or unfairly. However anything can happen in two years. Don’t get us wrong. We are not referring to Aquino’s net approval ratings as the surveys show fully well that he has majority of the public’s support. In his 2013 State of the Nation Address, Aquino proudly announced there is no more shortage in rice, no more lack of classrooms, and land for the farmers of Hacienda Luisita. The President may be correct on the last two but we have our reservations about the rice issue. The administration has said that we have enough rice stocks and there is no need to import. Aquino said that the Philippines was well on its way to achieving rice self-sufficiency. Proof of this, he said is that the country was already exporting some varieties of rice. If that is true, how come the price of a kilo of rice has reached P42? * READ MORRE..

(ALSO) EDITORIAL: AQUINO FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE? 

JULY 1 --A LEFTIST organization has accused the government of lobbying in Norway for the nomination of President Aquino for the Nobel Peace Prize. Bayan Muna insists Aquino is not qualified. The leftist group cites the alleged militarization of peasant communities to the alleged 192 cases of extrajudicial killings, 21 cases of enforced disappearances and illegal arrests of some 400 political prisoners. As far as Bayan Muna is concerned, the buck stops at Aquino’s desk. Palace officials said presidential adviser for the peace process Teresita Deles is lobbying not for the Peace Prize but for the immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. “No, we are not lobbying for President Aquino to get the Nobel Peace Prize. We are working for a just and lasting peace. Our only lobby is for the early passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. OPAPP has so much work to do on our various peace tables,” Deles said. Lacierda insists that if there is any effort to nominate Aquino for the prestigious award it will not be because of the government’s “insistence” or “prodding.” However, Lacierda said it is “probable” that other groups are working for Aquino’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. With Malacañang’s blessings? Lacierda’s slip of the tongue? A denial would have sufficed. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

(ALSO) By Amado P. Macasaet: FIRMNESS ON THE RIGHT  

JULY 6 --It is not the pronouncement of guilt or innocence of the accused in the plunder cases that is important to the justice system in a democratic society. It is the filing of information that indicates fairness and equity in the application of the law. Three of the accused are senators headed by Juan Ponce Enrile, president of the Chamber who skillfully presided over the impeachment process that saw the conviction of Renato C. Corona as Chief Justice. Hardly anybody talks about why President Aquino allowed Ponce Enrile to stay as president of the Senate although he got the job in the administration of Gloria Arroyo. We would think that President Arroyo owes Enrile a favor for the conviction of Corona. Neither the President nor Enrile talks about it. Enrile probably continues to believe he had to do a job in the impeachment Court. On the other hand, Mr. Aquino might have felt only Enrile could do the job as skillfully as he did. This is not talked about loudly or in whispers. I talked to Senator Enrile several times about the subject. He refused to comment beyond saying he is charged with plunder and will, instinctively, defend himself. He had planned to surrender before a warrant for his arrest could be issued. While the other accused are using all the tricks not in the books as if to show their innocence, Enrile, being a brilliant lawyer knows his law. I guess unlike two of his fellow senators who did not enter a plea, Enrile would enter a plea of not guilty when he is arraigned. Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada were defending themselves before the public through media but did not enter a plea when arraigned. That to me contradicts their claims of innocence outside the Court. Media played a key role in denouncing the “looting” of the pork barrel funds by the lawmakers and other officials in government. If wide publicity had not attended the alleged plunder, it is entirely possible that some modes of settlement could have been arranged. Media removed that publicity by arousing the minds of the people to the alleged crime. In the end, the accused had to face the charge since the Ombudsman believed the weight of evidence was against the accused. The information had to be filed. This is the norm we never saw in the 9-year rule of Gloria Arroyo. * READ MORE..


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

The Court after Aquino


By Amado P. Macasaet

 

MANILA, JULY 6, 2014 (MALAYA) By Amado P. Macasaet - The president we will elect after Pnoy steps down on June 30, 2016 will appoint 11 justices, an overwhelming majority in the Supreme Court.

Associate Justice Presbiterio Velasco will retire on Aug. 8, 2018, Antonio Carpio, on Oct. 26, 2019, Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro, Oct. 18, 2018; Arturo Brion, Dec. 29, 2016; Diosdado Peralta, March 27, 2022; Lucas Bersamin, Oct. 18, 2019; Mariano C. del Castillo, July 29, 2019; Jose C. Mendoza, Aug. 13, 1017; Bienvenido Reyes, July 6, 2017. Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe will reach the age of 70 on May 14, 2022. That is more than a year before the next President steps down on June 30, 2022.

The number of jurists comes to 11 since Associate Justice Jose P. Perez will retire on Dec. 14, 2016, almost six months before the expiration of Aquino’s term.

The new members of the Court may well have the same mind as those who will retire if they are picked by the new leader who won on the endorsement of President Aquino.

They could be more difficult to deal with considering the fact that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes “Meilou” P.A. Sereno has not shown that she is able to lead the Court and she will retire in 18 more years. In a manner of speaking the inability of Chief Justice Sereno to lead the Court – not her court -- makes her a lame duck for the rest of her term.

We may well have a Supreme Court headed by a “rubber stamp” in the person of the present Chief Justice, known to be eminently qualified for her brilliance in the law but who has long begun to show that she does not possess leadership qualities which are not learned in law schools.

The reason for saying this is the voting on the unconstitutionality of the pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program. If she had the qualities of a leader, she would have been able to herd her Court or her peers to a decision that the DAP sits with the Constitution. Or at least the voting on unconstitutionality would be so tenuous as to cast doubt the minority may have its own reason to dissent.

* The Chief Justice did not dissent. The voting was unanimous.. It seems she does not assign much value to being described as a “great dissenter.”

Since she did dissent, it should likewise be presumed that while Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin is the ponente of the unanimous decision declaring the DAP unconstitutional, her mind should have dominated the ruling.

Her mind is not seen in the ruling. The role she played, in the final analysis, was to append her signature to the unanimous decision.

In fact, it is known the entire court adopted in toto the opinion of an associate justice known for the brilliance of his dissent in split decisions and more known for his ability to dissect the nuances of the Constitution and the laws when he agrees with the majority. He is getting to be known as the “silent Chief Justice” who commands the respect of his peers better than the real Chief Justice.

The flaw in appointing Sereno as chief justice is the fact that the President denied the senior justices their dreams, hopes and aspirations for a chance to sit as Chief since Mrs. Sereno will reign —not exactly rule — the Court for two decades. That alone may be the reason she cannot herd her peers.

Since that seems to be so, the Chief Justice may remain in the minority in the Court of the next president. In fact, considering the reality that a president appoints a Chief Justice and his or her peers in the hope that he will get their sympathies in landmark cases, it now appears the choice of Mrs. Sereno was “a fatal mistake.”

It is not the country or the cause of the Constitution and the laws that will suffer from her inability to lead the Court. It is the president who appointed her.

She disappointed him by her inability to lead the Court.

Considering his popularity, it is admitted that whoever the President anoints in 2016 has the strongest possibility of becoming the next Chief Executive.

He will likely suffer the same as fate as President Aquino who cannot seem to get the sympathy of the Highest Tribunal for the not too simple reason that his Chief Justice cannot lead the court.

If President Aquino’s fate cannot be assured by the present Chief Justice, we dread to think what fate will befall him after he steps down and the next president appoints 11 associate justices.

In a manner of speaking the next president will be the “Court” in cases involving the politics of the Chief Executive. In fairness to Mrs. Sereno her inability to lead the Court may have been due to the fact that the majority of the Court is composed of jurists appointed by Gloria Arroyo.

This majority “disappointed” President Aquino in the pork and DAP cases by voting unanimously for unconstitutionality. The Court voted as one voice because the Chief Justice made the decision unanimous instead of coming up with a dissent.

The jurists voted in their best lights and as they see the correct interpretation of the Constitution and the laws, The Chief Justice was among them not necessarily because she was of the same mind. She simply could not get the Court to cooperate with her in supporting the DAP as sitting with the Constitution.

The belief and practice is the president appoints members of the Court and their Chief because he believes their loyalty is to the law and not to the appointing power.

In not too few cases — as in the time of Gloria Arroyo — the Court is divided between its loyalty to the Constitution and the laws and loyalty to the president who appointed them.

The appointing power won most of the time even if only briefly her Court was led by a Chief who was impeached.

There have been cases where loyalty to the law succumbs to the loyalty to the President.

It is presumed that the Chief Justice is loyal to the Constitution and the laws in the ruling on the pork and the DAP, not exactly by necessity but more on the apparent inability of the Chief Justice to herd the court. She did not even dissent.

That is one impolite way of saying that while she has an enviable record in law practice, it turns out that running the Court requires skills not necessarily possessed by a brilliant lawyer like the present Chief Justice.

President Aquino may have failed to look into that ability to lead when he decided to appoint Mrs. Sereno as Chief Magistrate who will serve under three presidents.

Truely By Jose Bayani Baylon | July 04, 2014


By Jose Bayani Baylon

TODAY we celebrate Fil-Am Friendship Day. It’s used to be Independence Day for Filipinos like us, but in the 1960s our President then at that time, Diosdado Macapagal, who later on became the father of another president, Gloria, changed the day we celebrate Independence from July 4 to June 12. Some say he did that because he was not happy with the way the Americans were treating him; others say he did it because he just wanted to be patriotic.

(Actually the first President Macapagal did not later on become the father of Gloria, because in the 1960s Gloria was already a little girl. In the 1960s he was already the father of Gloria and remained that way until he died. It was Gloria who later on became another president, despite the fact that she remained a little girl.)

It is with much thanks to the Americans that many of us now speak English, some good, some better, some best. You see the different levels of English efficiency…I mean, proficiency…. on such sites as Facebook, where many post status updates in English that even the Queen of England might have a tough time understanding. Like when someone, obviously mad at another, shouted in a status post “Shut your mouth off”.

Actually we could have had a chance to learn English the English way rather than the American way. Because the British actually occupied Manila, from 1762 to 1764, with the British fleet entering Manila Bay on 24 September 1762, 200 years plus a day before I was born. They stayed in Manila and parts of Cavite until April 1764, leaving when the Treaty of Paris that signaled the end of the Seven Years War in Europe was signed and Spain and England ceased to be at war.

I suspect that the English/British would have stayed longer despite the end of hostilities in Europe because it’s more fun in the Philippines, right? Their continuing occupation would have changed the way we lived – because we would have become part not of the Roman Catholic Church (Spanish conservative version) but of the Church of England; our names would not have been Maria, Enrique and Jaime but Mary, Henry and James; our provinces would have taken such names as New South Wales, our towns New Liverpool, maybe Manila rechristened as New Manchester. Davao could have been renamed Dover; Cebu into Cornwall; Bacolod into Bristol and Puerto Princesa into Plymouth.

And we would have changed he way we drove on the streets, from “keep right” to “keep left”.

* This would also have meant that our vocabulary would have changed, because Americans and the British have different names for the same things. For example: had we remained a British colony we would have a dish called aubergine omelette rather than eggplant omelette. Braces would be what you wear to hold your pants up, not what your orthodontist installs to keep your teeth straight.

To say you were “engaged” would not have meant you were busy, as in on the phone, and not that you and someone else were promised to each other as husband and wife (or in today’s times, as partners). In theme parks kids would rush to buy “candy floss” and not “cotton candy”. In buildings you would take a “lift” to go to higher floors, a much shorter word than “elevator”. Instead of playing “tic tac toe” we would have been used to playing “noughts and crosses”. And buildings would have one floor less, because the first level would be called the ground floor instead of the first floor, while the second level would be called the first floor instead of the second floor.

Outside of MOA and Araneta we would have to deal with “ticket touts” instead of “scalpers”. And we would mores readily understand the BBC sports report that described Novak Djokovic winning the last two sets of his five set match after “changing trainers” at the end of the third set: instead of the word “trainers” referring to a now-dejected tennis coach, the report was referring to rubber shoes or sneakers that the tennis player switched.

But “truely” would have still been “wrong spelling wrong”. And while “Where did you bought that” is a perfect literal translation of the Tagalog “Saan mo binili yan”, it would still be wrong because English – whether of the British or American kind – has stranger rules than, say, Filipino.

Think about it: Laughter is pronounced as lafter, but daughter is not pronounced as dafter. You sit on a benCH and go to CHurCH but how do you pronounce CHoir? The plural of medium is media, but is there a plural for premium? Premia?

You pronounce “those” and “chose” in the same way, but how do you pronounce “whose”?

Why should forty which is four tens not be fourty? And why shouldn’t “truly” be spelt as, well, “truely”?

And why indeed do you say “Where did you buy that” when you are talking of a past event; the Tagalog “Saan mo nabili (or binili) yan” is more accurate because immediately the speaker and the spoken know that what is being discussed is something that had already happened.

Which is why Pinoys often ask: “Where did you bought that?”

Heck, maybe we should have just been colonized by the Dutch.

Yours truely….

NOYNOY AQUINO IS NOT A PEACEMAKER! By NESTOR MATA | July 03, 2014


By NESTOR MATA

WE are hearing talks about nominating President Noynoy Aquino for the Nobel Peace Prize, once again.

The first time this notion came up was last March soon after the forging of a peace pact with just one of many rebel Muslim groups in strife-torn Mindanao and Sulu. His eager image-makers quickly hatched the idea, but it soon fizzled out until a few days ago when it was reported that one of the peace negotiators went to Norway to “lobby” for Aquino’s nomination.

This was denied by Malacañang mouthpieces, but they slyly admitted there were “some groups” that wanted to nominate President Aquino for the coveted Norwegian peace prize. And Teresita Deles, chief of peace pact negotiators, who was indeed in Oslo last week, denied having talked to anyone there about the prize.

Well, despite the signing of that peace accord, which is not even in effect, and its constitutionality likely to be questioned before the Supreme Court, there is still no peace and tranquillity in Mindanao, and violations of human rights in Muslim communities continue, and civilians displaced by military operations.

In other words, there is absolutely no basis for Aquino’s nomination for the Peace Prize.

* Besides, even assuming that “some groups” want to nominate him, they are misinformed and it’s too late in the day for them to act it. The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which has already received 278 candidates for the Peace Prize for 2014, the highest number of candidates ever, has set the awarding for October in Oslo, Norway. Only one of them will be named laureate of the year. The most popular laureates since 1926 include such illustrious names like as Theodore Roosevelt, Mother Theresa, Aung Suu Kyi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama.

Oh, by the way, two former Philippine presidents had hoped of winning the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. President Aquino’s own mother, then President Cory Cojuangco was the first to dream about it. Her image handlers suggested that she should ask Nur Misuari, who headed the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to discuss peace in Mindanao and Sulu. She went to Jolo in the Sulu peninsula, offered the rebel leader a cease-fire which he accepted, but it didn’t last long. She didn’t get the Noble Peace Prize.

When then President Fidel V. Ramos took over the presidency in 1996, he also hoped to win the Prize, but he didn’t get it, too. He had forged a final peace agreement with Nur Misuari’s MNLF, and Misuari became chairman of the Special Council for Peace and Development and governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but he later complained that the Ramos administration never honored its commitments.

Peace was broken and out of the MNLF was born the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

And when President Aquino came into the scene in 2010, he ignored Nur Misuari and negotiated instead a new peace pact with the rebel leaders of the MILF.

Still, this new peace agreement with the MILF last March 27 didn’t bring peace in Mindanao and Sulu. The road to peace in that strife-torn southern region is long, difficult and full of legal roadblocks. And that’s why President Aquino cannot claim he is a certified peacemaker.

In the words of presidential watchers and editorialists, President Noynoy Aquino’s dream of winning the Nobel Prize at this time is “ridiculous, laughable, absurd”, “a cruel joke” to millions of Filipinos, and to others in the world who actually deserve to be named Nobel Prize Laureate for 2014!

***

There’s something puzzling about recent remarks of Chinese President Xi Jinping that his country will never seek regional hegemony in Asia no matter how strong it becomes. And yet, notwithstanding his assurance, China’s neighbors continue to worry about Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea and adjacent seas.

Just a week ago, China came out with a new official map that added another line to its previous nine-dash line claim that had already included disputed maritime and territories in the region. It was published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency in Beijing with the caption “Islands in South China Sea share the same scale with mainland and are better shown than traditional maps.”

The new map with the ten-dash line shows China’s claim over almost the entire South China Sea that encompasses territories just off the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the very near coasts of the islands of Palawan and Luzon in the Philippines.

The Philippine government, which remains focused on “diplomatic, political and legal options” that will bring about peaceful resolution of disputes in the West Philippine Sea, branded China’s new map as an “unreasonably expansive” claim that’s contrary to international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China already claims 90 percent of the sea, a major shipping route, home to groups of islands, rocks, reefs and cays, and resource- rich waters. That’s almost all of the maritime and territories in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the East Vietnam Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

Unquestionably, China’s “ambitious expansionism” is causing the tensions in the region with its new official 10-dash line map to boost its claim to almost all the entire South China Sea and adjacent seas.

Where, oh, where, President Xi Jinping, is your pledge to preserve regional peace?

MALAYA EDITORIAL

LAST TWO MINUTES, THAT IS, YEARS June 30, 2014

TODAY, Benigno Simeon Aquino III marks his fourth year in office as the nation’s chief executive.

Two more years and Aquino will be judged by the public he fondly calls as “boss” fairly or unfairly.

However anything can happen in two years.

Don’t get us wrong.

We are not referring to Aquino’s net approval ratings as the surveys show fully well that he has majority of the public’s support.

In his 2013 State of the Nation Address, Aquino proudly announced there is no more shortage in rice, no more lack of classrooms, and land for the farmers of Hacienda Luisita.

The President may be correct on the last two but we have our reservations about the rice issue.

The administration has said that we have enough rice stocks and there is no need to import.

Aquino said that the Philippines was well on its way to achieving rice self-sufficiency. Proof of this, he said is that the country was already exporting some varieties of rice.

If that is true, how come the price of a kilo of rice has reached P42?

* Blame it on the unscrupulous rice traders, the government would say.

How has the economy fared under Aquino?

The Philippines has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

In 2013, the country garnered an investment grade status from the world’s leading credit rating agencies.

And just recently, the Philippines’ credit rating was upgraded by the Standard & Poor’s to a notch above investment grade.

“We would like to make sure as we leave, as the President leaves after 2016, he has laid the foundations for an economy that would provide equitable growth for all,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a radio interview.

Yet still, the Doubting Thomases say anything can happen in two years.

EDITORIAL

AQUINO FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE? July 01, 2014

A LEFTIST organization has accused the government of lobbying in Norway for the nomination of President Aquino for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Bayan Muna insists Aquino is not qualified.

The leftist group cites the alleged militarization of peasant communities to the alleged 192 cases of extrajudicial killings, 21 cases of enforced disappearances and illegal arrests of some 400 political prisoners.

As far as Bayan Muna is concerned, the buck stops at Aquino’s desk.

Palace officials said presidential adviser for the peace process Teresita Deles is lobbying not for the Peace Prize but for the immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“No, we are not lobbying for President Aquino to get the Nobel Peace Prize. We are working for a just and lasting peace. Our only lobby is for the early passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. OPAPP has so much work to do on our various peace tables,” Deles said.

Lacierda insists that if there is any effort to nominate Aquino for the prestigious award it will not be because of the government’s “insistence” or “prodding.”

However, Lacierda said it is “probable” that other groups are working for Aquino’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

With Malacañang’s blessings?

Lacierda’s slip of the tongue?

A denial would have sufficed.

FIRMNESS ON THE RIGHT By Amado P. Macasaet | July 07, 2014


By Amado P. Macasaet

It is not the pronouncement of guilt or innocence of the accused in the plunder cases that is important to the justice system in a democratic society. It is the filing of information that indicates fairness and equity in the application of the law.

Three of the accused are senators headed by Juan Ponce Enrile, president of the Chamber who skillfully presided over the impeachment process that saw the conviction of Renato C. Corona as Chief Justice.

Hardly anybody talks about why President Aquino allowed Ponce Enrile to stay as president of the Senate although he got the job in the administration of Gloria Arroyo. We would think that President Arroyo owes Enrile a favor for the conviction of Corona.

Neither the President nor Enrile talks about it. Enrile probably continues to believe he had to do a job in the impeachment Court. On the other hand, Mr. Aquino might have felt only Enrile could do the job as skillfully as he did.

This is not talked about loudly or in whispers. I talked to Senator Enrile several times about the subject. He refused to comment beyond saying he is charged with plunder and will, instinctively, defend himself.

He had planned to surrender before a warrant for his arrest could be issued. While the other accused are using all the tricks not in the books as if to show their innocence, Enrile, being a brilliant lawyer knows his law. I guess unlike two of his fellow senators who did not enter a plea, Enrile would enter a plea of not guilty when he is arraigned. Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada were defending themselves before the public through media but did not enter a plea when arraigned. That to me contradicts their claims of innocence outside the Court.

Media played a key role in denouncing the “looting” of the pork barrel funds by the lawmakers and other officials in government. If wide publicity had not attended the alleged plunder, it is entirely possible that some modes of settlement could have been arranged.

Media removed that publicity by arousing the minds of the people to the alleged crime. In the end, the accused had to face the charge since the Ombudsman believed the weight of evidence was against the accused. The information had to be filed.

This is the norm we never saw in the 9-year rule of Gloria Arroyo.

* Media also played a negative role when it led people to believe there was a way, particularly for Sen. Ramon Revilla, to escape trial by expecting a rally for him from his supporters, not as a lawmaker but as an actor. Media failed to point out that only the Court can rule on innocence or guilt of the accused. The right to free expression was upheld by media although the effect, to me anyway, was for Revilla to make himself look silly. In fact, he even said he would run for president if the people, meaning his supporters, call for it. That statement is a suggestion that he would be set free of the charges against him.

If the state had made prison cells more comfortable for human conditions the accused should be detained in the national penitentiary. At age 90, brilliant of mind but physically weak, Enrile deserves detention in a military hospital.

I cannot hazard a guess why Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Revilla, are detained in a special facility. Is it because they are not common criminals? They are not criminals pending pronouncement of guilt.

They are lawmakers. But the law should not make distinctions between the high and the mighty on one hand the ordinary citizens suspected of committing a crime.

We go not begrudge accused for being given a special facility. These are little privileges the powerful are variously granted. None of these depart from the fact that they have been charged. The powers of their high office are never to their advantage when they are suspected to have committed a wrong.

To begin with the respondents in the plunder cases have not been convicted. They may not be committed to the national penitentiary where they may be allowed comforts denied to ordinary criminals.

None of these is remotely related to the fact that high officials of the land, elected by the people, are facing criminal charges. The filing of information against them is proof justice is working.

We are not pleased by the antics of some of the accused who, instead of preparing their defense in the graft court, almost daily resort to publicity they may believe will help them escape the wrath of the law.

They will be acquitted or convicted based on the evidence.

There are no buts or ifs about that.

It is important for us to know what the law says in criminal charges. Conviction is made when the court finds no doubt of guilt. A shadow of doubt should set accused free. The state cannot appeal a criminal acquittal. On the other hand, the criminal suspects have a right to appeal. In civil cases, the bases most of the time is quantum of evidence, not always quality.

If I sound like a lecturer in criminal law although I am not a lawyer, I do so to emphasize the fact that a time has come when the law and the state officials who execute it do consider the powers of the office of accused lawmakers.

The last time I heard about this was in the case of Oscar Castelo, concurrent secretary of defense and justice in the administration of President Quirino. He was found guilty of being the brains behind the murder of Manuel P. Monroy, a supporter of Senator Claro M. Recto and Arsenio Lacson, then mayor of Manila.

Castelo was pardoned by President Marcos.

The mention of Castelo’s case is not intended to see the conviction of the three lawmakers. I am merely trying to point out again, as already said above, the country and its democratic system is honored by the filing of plunder information against powerful people.

The pork scandal is a good lesson for the voters. They should now know that popular aspirants who win in the polls notably actor Bong Revilla, are treated the same way as the others in the plunder and graft cases.

That supports the theory, hardly ever practiced, that no one is above the law, not even lawmakers. The filing of the information, not necessarily conviction, has the beneficial effect of restoring faith of the ‘people in their government. Maybe we owe this to President Aquino but any president would have done the same.

The filing of the information is the best propaganda tool the government should take full advantage of in fighting the Leftist Movement. Equality before the eyes of the law appears to be the norm. That is democracy in full practice.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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