OPINION ON PAGE ONE
Charges vs Veep Leni
For other foolish questions, popular Mayor Isko brags about turning down millions in bribes. Why didn’t he entrap the briber manqué then? Can he give us names, dates and times? Why doesn’t he? Instead of sorta compounding a felony? But, I applaud his directive to the Pulis Patolas to respect human rights, just violated, from where I sit, by Kenkoy, ooops, Bikoy, Advincula, who filed a case only Pulis Patolas could take seriously. The Palace quickly distanced itself from the egregious excrescence. With a wink? (Now the Solgen says he helped, sandbagging his office in case of theoretical appeals. He may not review his own work.)
The charges against Veep Leni, et al. include inciting to sedition — but every idea is an incitement, per Holmes — cyberlibel, libel, estafa and harboring a criminal/obstruction of justice. Also named respondents were members of the religious and former and current senators. Otso Diretso senatorial candidates also made the honor roll, as well as Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) current and former head honchos, human rights activists, et al., 36 in all.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the complaint against the opposition leaders “ay nasa korte” (Manila Times, July 23, 2019). No, sir, excuse me, the charges are still just being readied for preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice (DoJ), now possibly the Department of Injustice, not in court. That is how sloppy police articulation is, unless they know something we don’t. Wink, wink.
Another Pulis Patola, Lt. Col. Arthur Thomas Ibay, said there is a “conspiracy to malign the name of President Rodrigo Duterte.” Huh? Josme naman. The undisputed heavyweight champion in maligning is the proud and profane Prez himself. If he can dish it out, and he can — and how — he should be able to take it, I’m sure.
The Injustice Secretary said Leni is not immune, fine, but adds that the President is, explaining “that the 1987 Constitution does not grant the vice president immunity from criminal suit while in office, unlike the president” (Philippine Star, July 22, 2019).
President not immune from prosecution
If he or anyone else can point to me any provision in the 1987 Charter that says that the Prez is immune, I’ll eat it. If Digong is charged with murder or rape, he should not have to be able to say, “You cannot sue me, dugong bughaw ako, I have immunity under the DOI Constitution.”
We borrowed the concept from America, which has no blue blood provision emanating from a rejected royalty. Kennedy, Nixon and Clinton raised the defense, and were shot down by courageous independent judges. All three settled. We should have no royalty, either. The Emperor from Imperial Davao is not immune from charges not related to the performance (such as rape or murder), even if merely colorable, of his office. No lèse-majesté here.
“I’ll end my term fighting,” said the Prez. Not the Chinese he hasn’t started to fight though and with whom he has a closed-door secret oral covenant on our natural resources while the Senate sleeps. Who has seen it? It may even be unconstitutional if indeed military facilities have been installed in our own territory. Mga senador, gising na po! Pinipindeho/a na po yata kayo. Listen to military grammarians expounding on “position” and “possession.” Maybe a misreading of Kama Sutra?
No, the Prez should not double down, fight and kill our very own people until his term ends. Instead he should heal and unite us, beginning now. He can do it.
No! then to extrajudicial killing and the anti-poor death penalty, judicial murder in my eyes. What the Lord giveth, only He taketh away. Make more Pinoys less hungry and angry till your term ends, Mr. Prez. The poor have suffered enough. No criminal carries the penal code in his pocket and examines what he can and cannot afford — the discredited deterrent or supermarket theory of the criminal law. Only the certainty and swiftness of conviction may deter.
Heal and unite, not kill and fight, before you step down in 2022 in retirement.
Kudos and thanks, Justice Mar
Retiring next week is SC Justice Mar del Castillo after decades of loyal, honest and efficient service. I first met him when he was a municipal court judge in San Mateo in the 1990s. San Beda gave him a good AB foundation in political science which could not be shaken in the finest law school in the entire Rockwell Complex.
Hardworking, he is leaving the SC the same way he did the Court of Appeals: with a zero backlog.
Kudos and thanks, Mr. Justice, a credit to the judiciary and the profession. He reminds me of Justice John Paul Stevens, who passed away last July 16. Time magazine quoted him — ”I just tried to do my best. That’s a goal that every judge should seek to achieve” — in an obit in praise, in its current issue.
Not to worry, Justice Mar. Not a eulogy, this fragment isn’t. Justice Stevens left this vale of tears at 99 but I’ll never forget that, dissenting in a 5-4 flag-burning case, he wrote in praise of “the Philippine Scouts who fought at Bataan.” Texas v. Johnson, 491 US 307, 439 (1999)
Mr. Prez, if attacked or threatened, the Pinoy can fight in a fight he hasn’t started. In Bataan and Edsa ‘86, courageous Pinoys gained the world’s admiration as ready to give our all for the Motherland. Lead us then, not in appeasement.