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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Threat of war

"Were the prosecutors so intimidated that not one took a stand and gave a different opinion afterward?"


The threat of President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and to declare a “revolutionary war” rages on, despite the Palace’s attempt to play down the presidential remark made at the convention of public prosecutors in Palawan.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo who must have the most difficult job in the world in explaining his boss’ frequent outbursts said the President’s statement was only an exasperated expression of the many problems confronting his office.

Yeah, right. But to state it before government prosecutors that he will arrest critics who are enemies of the state and throw them in jail together with common criminals, drug traffickers , addicts and killers is a scary scenario to contemplate.

Considering that what the President flaunted is a serious legal issue, none of the prosecutors present at the Palawan gathering—who were all lawyers and officers of the law—spoke up even after the event against the President’ s ranting. Were the prosecutors so intimidated that not one took a stand and gave a different opinion afterward?

It took some senators and other legal observers to point out that the presidential way of handling the law is way out of left field. The President likes to point out that he was a former public prosecutor before he became Davao City mayor. We hope that those whom the former public prosecutor failed to send to jail via the legal process were not arrested and jailed anyway by the strongman Davao mayor.

Domingo Egon Cayosa, vice chairman of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, said the President may suspend the writ of habeas corpus only for 60 days and may do so only if there is an imminent threat of invasion against the country or a total breakdown of law and order. He also pointed out the expression “revolutionary war” is totally different from a “revolutionary government,” according to the Constitution.

For sure, other senators will express a similar and as learned a view as IBP official Cayosa. Let’s hear it candidates and enough talk of what you did, etc. Protection of the people’s right is just as paramount as lowering the cost of living and having ample supply of water.

This is why laws are crafted and enshrined in the Constitution. They are not for those holding the lever of power to set aside and do as they please. There is a final reckoning at the end of their term and immunity from prosecution. In some instances, people’s patience reaches a tipping point before this. Look at what happened to former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada although it took longer for Marcos to fall. Erap did not really suffer imprisonment because he was detained at his resthouse in Tanay and then immediately pardoned after his conviction for graft and corruption.

The people of Manila hopefully will render a wiser verdict in the midterm elections where Erap is seeking a second term as mayor. The people of the country’s capital, however, have a limited choice with only Erap, former Mayor Fred Lim and former Vice Mayor Iskho Moreno to choose from. Is Manila so bereft of leaders?

Take note that it is the national government agencies cleaning up Manila Bay, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on top of the rampant proliferation of drugs in the city. I used to be a Manila resident living in the once-fashionable Malate area but moved to Makati to escape the stench of a decaying city. Life in a high condominium tower in Makati with its accompanying high real estate taxes is more livable than living dangerously in Manila.

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