Another cesspool

When my good friend, Dante Arevalo Ang, chairman emeritus of The Manila Times, convinced me to write my memoirs, I was hesitant. I was no celebrity.

I had the experience of meeting celebrities, though, especially in the 1990s when I was living at Ecology Village.

My neighbors then were Edu Manzano, then living with Maricel Soriano, former Miss Universe Margie Moran, then separated from Tonyboy Floirendo, and the late Bert Nivera, who was with his first wife Conchita Razon.

They were all good friends especially Edu who would share goodies with me and my wife. Martin, Bert’s son, was not yet famous then.

* * *

President Duterte tagged the once island paradise of Boracay as a cesspool, and now it is being closed for months. Now many other places are coming to mind.

Other places that demand urgent attention are Baguio City, Pasig River and Manila Bay into which the Pasig flows.

Manila Bay has become a real cesspool because all incoming vessels dump all their waste into it.

I recall the tremendous job of cleaning and rejuvenating Manila Bay. But afterward, people can again take a dip during the summer months.

The problem of Manila Bay is not a problem of the city of Manila alone. It is the problem of the government in power. If other cities can keep their bays and rivers pristine, then the Duterte administration can do it, too.

* * *

The issue of betrayal of public trust came about during oral arguments in connection with the failure of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to give importance to the documentary requirements of her office. She did not submit a complete set of Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, and it is now being used against her in the quo warranto proceedings filed by the Solicitor General.

The quo warranto petition questions the right of Sereno to become chief justice. Impeachment is a different matter altogether.

The Philippine Constitution is very clear when it says: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.”

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who presided over the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, echoed that the provision is indeed very clear.

Section 10 of the same article in the 1987 Constitution enumerates the impeachable public officers.

Here is the kicker that applies directly to Sereno as chief justice. “A public officer or employee shall upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth. In the case of the President, Vice President, the members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the constitutional commission and other constitutional offices, and offices of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.”

Enrile is emphatic that these are mandatory, thus observed by persons concerned. No public officer or employee of the government, no matter how high his rank or vast his power, can cavalierly ignore these commands much less disdainfully defy them.

I would like to add that all public officers must act with rectitude, especially the chief justice—the first among equals among the Supreme Court justices.

Sereno is doomed, really, through impeachment. She is also a usurper—one who has no right at all to become chief justice.

To Sereno’s supporters, I say read the law.

* * *

The findings and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the liability of former President BS Aquino III, former Budget secretary Butch Abad and former Health secretary Janette Garin for the Dengvaxia controversy was not surprising. The mess affected hundreds of thousands of school children.

The committee also included the criminal liability of the giant French pharmaceutical Sanofi Pasteur.

For all the deaths that can be attributed to Dengvaxia, who will be responsible? Who will be accountable?


Topics: Dante Arevalo Ang , Maria Lourdes Sereno , Janette Garin , Dengvaxia , Butch Abad , Sanofi Pasteur , Juan Ponce Enrile , Rodrigo Duterte
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