Clowns in the government

IN the wake of so much pain, anguish and indignation over the Mamasapano slaughter of 44 police commandos, especially so with a President who refuses to apologize even as he is ultimately responsible for what happened, what the people need is some comic relief.

First came Senator Antonio Trillanes’ annoucement of his bid for the vice presidency in 2016. It was a joke, since we all know that the “yellow-tainted” brain of the senator needs a healthy dose of reality check. Trillanes has consistenly been at the bottom of the totem pole in all surveys.

What takes the cake, quoting from The New Standard’s Sunday editorial, was Trillanes’ follow-up statement that “the people are not ready for a Trillanes presidency.”  Huh? Are the people ready for a Trillanes vice presidency? I don’t think so!

What has Trillanes done except for two failed coup attempts during the Arroyo administration? And what has he done now under the Aquino administration? In the 16th, I repeat 16th, hearing of the Yellow Ribbon sub-committee on alleged corruption committed by Vice President Jojo Binay when he was a mayor of Makati, Trillanes, together with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, hasn’t proven anything against the Binays that can stand in a court of law.

Now comes another clown in the person of Human Rights Commission Chairperson Etta Rosales who assailed both the Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry and the Senate reports. She claimed that the Mamasapano clash was not a massacre.

So, what was it, when  autopsy reports show that the PNP-Special Action Force commandos were shot at close range? Some were stripped of their body armor, suggesting that they were helpless when the Moro rebels killed them.

If it was not a massacre, what was it, then? A walk in  the park?

What riles me more is that Rosales has become more a lawyer and a sympathizer of the Moro rebels than a protector of human rights. And to think we already have peace negotiators Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and peace adviser Teresita Deles lawyering for the Moro rebels, willing to give the rebels what they want!

The Aquino administration may be lacking in brains, competence, honesty and integrity. What it has are clowns.

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Regardless of whether or not the PNP, as a civilian institution, has a chain of command, the president remains accountable for what happened in Mamasapano.

The people also want to know whether the President committed an unlawful act, punishable by law, when he put his friend,  former PNP Director General Alan Purisima on top of Oplan Exodus despite the latter’s suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Purisima’s culpability is that it is clear that he usurped authority. PNP Director General Leonardo Espina was PNP OIC  at that time.

I believe that Mr. Aquino committed an unlawful act. An Executive Order issued by then-President Fidel Ramos, founder of the PNP-SAF when he was head of the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police, defines the chain of command of the PNP and  other executive departments.

De Lima may argue otherwise, but she cannot go against an existing EO. In fact, some lawyers and legal experts are thinking of filing a case against President Aquino when he steps down next year.

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There is a standoff at the city of Makati between Mayor Junjun Binay and acting Mayor Romulo “Kid” Pena. This boils down to  which among the two has the rule of law on his side.

The Office of the Ombudsman suspended Binay but the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order on this suspension.   Still, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales say that since the TRO was issued in the afternoon, and Pena had already taken his oath as mayor, the TRO did not restrain the suspension order and the oathtaking of Pena because these took place in the morning.

Santa Banana, is the rule of law now a matter of timing?

A TRO preserves the status quo, quoting from San Beda Dean of Graduate School of Law Fr. Ranhilio Aquino. This means that when a court of law issues a TRO, the status quo is maintained whether or not a suspension order came earlier or that a vice mayor has taken his oath office. The time element is immaterial.

A TRO is precisely issued by a court of law to prevent abuses by the state. It is a lawful exercise of judicial authority. As lawyers, De Lima and the Ombudsman should realize this. To trivalize TROs would send a chilling effect to the judicial authority of the courts.

In the case of Makati, the sooner the appellate court rules on this case, the better. Makati is the financial center of the Philippines. Foreign investors may see this as unfavorable to business. 

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Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is eyeing the presidency in 2016. There’s really nothing wrong with that since Bongbong is one of the few senators doing well. In fact, the more candidates there are for the presidency, the merrier. The electorate must be given choices.

Vice President Jejomar Binay is still perceived as the presidential hopeful to beat in next year’s elections, according to poll surveys. But nothing is for sure until election day. Binay himself has said that he may opt to have the Liberal Party presumptive presidential bet, Mar Roxas, as his running mate.

While it’s still more than a year before the May 2016 polls, a lot of things can still happen. Significantly, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, according to surveys, is now No. 3, along with former President and Manila Mayor Erap Estrada.

All these mean that there will be more than three presidential candidates in 2016. There could possibly be even five.

* * * *

A balikbayan, upon arrival in the Philippines, asks: What is happening to our country? Problems seems to be never-ending.

He cites the debate on whether or not President Aquino is culpable for the slaughter of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano. He complains about the daily traffic nightmare, the frequency of MRT3 glitches, the anticipated daily power outages in Manila, and the frequency of crime as reported by television newscasts.

While this balikbayan is glad that the Philippines has been rated as the 5th happiest country worldwide, he is not too happy when told by his driver that upon registration of his car at a Land Transportation Office branch, the driver was told to return in two weeks for the stickers and the plate.

Topics: Emil Jurado , emil , jurado , opinion , mamasapano , saf44 , senate report
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