The release of the ex-chief of staff of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, now almost 99 years old and now Chief Presidential Legal Counsel of President Marcos Jr., Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes from detention almost 9 years now, brings to fore how the Philippine justice system works, often depriving people of their civil liberties and right to justice.
With no resolution of her plunder case in sight, JPE’s longtime chief of staff was literally rotting in jail when the Supreme Court ordered her release last weekend, saying she suffered “vexatious restraint of her inherent right to liberty.”
The Sandiganbayan had decided to commit “Gigi” Reyes along with pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. The highest court said the prosecution continued to delay her right to liberty for almost nine years.
“Gigi” Reyes was charged with plunder with JPE in connection with the scandal of the misuse of the pork barrel given to members of Congress.
In that scandal, members of the Senate got P250 million each while members of the House got P70 million each.
It is basic in law that the right of liberty and the presumption of innocence is as precious as the air you breathe.
Thus, when the lawyers of “Gigi” filed a writ of habeas corpus, the Supreme Court had no choice but to allow “Gigi” to go free from her almost nine years of detention, Santa Banana!
As a lawyer myself, the case of “Gigi” Reyes has far-flung implications, not only in the case of former Senator Leila de Lima, in detention for six years, but also on thousands of poor litigants who have been literally rotting in jail because of the snail-paced wheel of justice in the Philippines, primarily because of their inability to hire good lawyers who can file the writ of habeas corpus in favor of their client.
All lawyers, I am sure, realize the aftermath of the temporary release of the long-time chief of staff of JPE who had already suffered enough in the almost nine years in detention.
There is no doubt the release from detention of “Gigi” Reyes can also apply to poor litigants who have suffered prolonged detention, and more especially to the former Senator Leila de Lima going through “vexatious restraint of her inherent right to liberty and capricious and oppressive incarceration”.
We know it was then President Duterte who had accused her in the trade of illegal drugs.
It was de Lima who had exposed the “Davao Death Squad,” implicating Duterte, then mayor of Davao City, when she was the head of the Human Rights Commission.
And we know the prosecution witnesses who testified against de Lima as having links with well-known illegal drugs personalities had since recanted their testimonies against her.
The lawyers of de Lima are now asking for bail.
But, my gulay, I am more interested in the release of thousands of poor litigants from detention, almost always detained because of their inability to hire a lawyer, and the fact that the wheels of justice grind so slowly in this country.
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Following the soaring prices of sugar and onions driven by inflation and price
adjustments of gasoline, diesel and kerosene, Santa Banana, now comes the looming high prices of basic goods that the greater bulk of Filipinos need for their existence!
Manufacturers of canned sardines, a main part of the daily fare, along with milk, bread and instant noodles, and personal care necessities like toilet paper, have started petitioning the government to adjust prices because of increasing costs of production.
My gulay, what next?
Let’s just hope and pray that it won’t escalate to the point that rice, the staple of Filipinos, will be in short supply.
The need for more rice appears inevitable, and the government has no choice but to import.
If there’s something that President Marcos Jr. must avoid it’s a rice crisis, Santa Banana, when people must fall in line for a ganta of rice.
A rice crisis in the Philippines should never happen.
I can still recall years back when we had to fall in line to get a ganta of rice for our next meal.
Can we avoid a food crisis in the Philippines following looming increases of our grocery items?
The greater bulk of our people are now groaning over the ever-increasing prices of grocery items.
Bongbong Marcos must listen to the voice of the people and assure them that there will always be food on our tables.
Following outcries from the people to attend to the looming food crisis, I believe it’s now time for Marcos Jr. to appoint a permanent secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
But, while BBM continues to “sell” the country to foreign investors, since we urgently need more capital to create more jobs, the President must walk on a tightrope to do both—attract more foreign investors to create more jobs so that people can make both ends meet and stop a looming food crisis.
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The Senate did not get an assurance from officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines that the communication, navigation and surveillance system will not break down again as it did last Jan. 1, New Year’s Day, canceling 361 incoming and departing domestic and international flights, and stranding more than 65,000 domestic and international passengers.
There are two issues in this case which must be resolved.
One is accountability and the finger points directly to the CAAP board.
While investigations are going on about what really happened during that 9-hour glitch, Santa Banana, the CAAP members must be suspended outright to keep them away from the investigation to find out what really happened.
According to the CAAP officials, it was just a breakdown of the circuit breaker which produced a glitch in the communication, navigation and surveillance system.
Santa Banana, with such a breakdown rendering communication, navigation and surveillance impossible, there could be a tragedy in the Philippine skies with incoming and departing flights.
Thank God, nothing of that sort happened.
The Senate found out in its series of probes the CAAP board members displayed sheer incompetence, mismanagement and plain stupidity.
Can you imagine, my gulay, a system on which everything depends broke down without CCTV to show why.
Santa Banana, that’s not only incompetence and mismanagement, but plain stupidity in capital letters.
And would you believe that the CAAP has only five radars to observe navigation and communication.
Santa Banana, that’s a national security threat.
The Senate also found out there was no assurance from the CAAP that such a glitch will not happen again.
Santa Banana, such a glitch in the main gateway at NAIA could happen again!
The lack of reassurance that such a glitch will not happen again worries me because my family and I are also passengers of domestic and international flights.
With no reassurance that such a glitch will not happen again demands not only a new system, and at the moment a backup system, and that’s now the responsibility of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista and even the President.
For these reasons suspension is too kind a word for the CAAP board members.
I’d say that they should be relieved of duty so we won’t be expecting a possible glitch again.