The witch is gone

Normally I would never lead with a column title like this about the Supreme Court ruling against its erstwhile Chief Justice. It’s insensitive, it’s bad manners, and I’d never hear the end of it from my by-the-book, prim-and-proper wife.

However, after dissenting Justice Leonen called the ruling a “legal abomination,” after fellow dissenter Justice Caguioa said his colleagues had “committed seppuku but without the honor,” and after some yellow joker posted a fake news item about the (non-existent) AFP “Southern Command” breaking ranks in mutiny—well, I figured that the gloves were off.

* * *

For that matter, the gloves have never really stayed on among the Yellows. Fuelled by a potent brew of self-righteousness, sense of entitlement, and complete disdain for facts and logic, this recidivist gang demolished one institution after another under six years of PNoy, but today have the gall to claim they’re the Republic’s saviors.

Vice President Leni opined that “the fight isn’t over since the Supreme Court vote was close.” Let’s hope her newfound respect for voting margins will survive the recount of her vote tally against former Senator Bongbong, at the end of which she may have to relinquish the glorious heroine’s mantle bequeathed to her in Cory’s name to the much more De Lima-like Sereno.

Various NDF affiliates like Bayan Muna, NUPL, and Sanlakas protested mightily about the “rule of law.” If they really cared about this, they would do better to convince their NPA comrades to stop being outlaws and terrorists (the Europeans’ term, not mine) and return to the civilized fold, under the umbrella of new peace talks (more on this below).

Various senators harrumphed that the High Court had deprived them of the privilege of sitting again as jurors in an impeachment of another Chief Justice. Well, they should try to convince their colleagues in the House, which is the only place impeachment can start from. Good luck with that, guys.

After doing a non-lawyer’s scan of the 150-page ruling penned by Justice Tijam, I was struck by how many nails had been driven into the witch’s coffin. Among other things, the ruling stated that quo warranto is superior to impeachment; that Sereno did in fact commit impeachable offenses; and also laid down guidelines for the future conduct of quo warranto hearings.

Unfortunately, the rest of her coven is still at large, flying around and screaming like banshees. It’ll be a while before the sun comes out and things settle down.

* * *

As a matter of fact, the first tendrils of morning sunlight are already breaking through the yellow overcast.

From the drug war front, the PDEA for the first time filed charges against a barangay captain on its drug list, a Malabon local official who failed to report a drug den and submitted an incomplete drug watch list. It’s noteworthy that the poor guy was haled to court, not for active drug links, but simply for being suspiciously remiss in his duties. We hope that barangay officials newly elected yesterday know what they’re now in for.

Over at PNP, the redoubtable new head P/DG Oscar Albayalde reported drug war stats over the 20 months under Duterte: 4,251 deaths of suspects, 142,069 arrests, P13.8 billion of shabu and P16.4 billion of drug-making equipment seized, 1.3 Million drug surrenderees, of whom nearly 200,000 have graduated from rehabilitation programs. However, we’re still waiting for the 13,000-odd body cameras promised to be worn by active anti-drug cops.

Meanwhile, multiple hat-wearer Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is proving to be a negotiator par excellence. Together with Peace Adviser Dureza, he back-channeled to the communists in Europe to arrive at an “interim” peace deal that could lead to the resumption of peace talks by middle of June.

And together with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano, Bello has persuaded Kuwait to agree to new rights for our OFWs there: keeping their mobile phones and passports, 24x7 hotline, special police unit detailed to the embassy, repatriation of OFWs in distress. Duterte might now partially lift the deployment ban—only for skilled and semi-skilled workers, but not yet for domestic helpers who are the most vulnerable ones abroad.

Even the much-maligned MRT3 is reporting good news. After government kicked out the PNoy-era maintenance provider Busan and took over operations itself, the railway line recently posted 17 straight days of no unloading incidents, the longest incident-free period since 2011. What now needs to be wrapped up is a new maintenance agreement with the Japanese, to return MRT-3 to the private sector where it belongs.

* * *

Even with the morning light breaking through, a couple of witches are still flying around loose. Over at Rappler, our favorite Yellow hacks accused the BIR of “selective justice” after they were hit with a P133 Million tax evasion case in connection with Rappler’s controversial issue of Phil Depositary Receipts.

Before the public gets taken in by the victimization script that Rappler CEO Maria Ressa has borrowed from Sereno, let’s keep the following in mind:

Rappler Holdings Corp. is different from its operating company Rappler Inc. It was RHC that evaded taxes on the taxable income it booked for itself in the process of otherwise-innocent capital raising by RI.

RHC still has to justify the violation by its PDRs of Constitutional limits on foreign ownership of media companies.

RHC can’t defend itself by claiming that “other PRD issues have not been charged with constitutional or tax law violations.” Those other issues, which were done clean, are not at issue. Only Rappler’s is.

Rappler must account for its biased coverage of the administration, its active propagation of fake numbers even after repeated factual rebuttals, and now the witch-hunt it has reportedly launched against pro-Duterte websites in its new role as Facebook’s designated fact-checker.

Witches conducting witch-hunts? It could only happen here, with these guys.

Readers can write me at [email protected]

Topics: Supreme Court , Maria Lourdes Sereno , Maria Ressa , Alan Cayetano , Silvestre Bello III
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