Perhaps to the chagrin yet again of his bloated Communications Team, Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III expressed his personal view on the final list of nominees to the role of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court unveiled by the Judicial Bar Council (JBC). Asked if he is satisfied, his reported reply: “Personally, I’m not”.
Why else wouldn’t he be dissatisfied with this outcome? His manok, current Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima, had been disqualified from further consideration by the JBC owing to disbarment charges against her that are currently being investigated…
â€œIn my view, what happened was not fair,â€ Mr. Aquino said. â€œTheir rules say that those with disbarment cases will not be considered. There are those facing cases, but were suddenly cleared. There are others who donâ€™t have any case, but were suddenly disqualified. How can that be fair?â€
Well, for that matter, perhaps someone ought to also ask President BS Aquino whether or not it is fair to be using state resources to defend De Lima against these charges. Recalling my simplistic view on the matter, I say disbarment is a consequence of a lapse in professional judgment of a lawyer, which means that a case of disbarment is something that is solely between the individual law professional and the governing/regulatory body of said profession, in this case, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). When you fail personally in your profession, your qualifications as a professional to your employer comes to question. It is therefore bizarre that MalacaÃ±ang would be using taxpayer’s money to shore up the professional integrity of a person whose employment it should, in principle, be re-evaluating in that light.
Indeed, as Inquirer.net writer TJ Burgos observed, in making these personal statements the President “let the cat out of the bag”. Said cat was what, until now, was the unspoken truth about who among the candidates for the Chief Justice post MalacaÃ±ang was backing. But not only did President BS Aquino let that cat out, he also confirmed to many what is likely to have been the original over-arching mission of his presidency — to take control of the Supreme Court and secure Uncle Peping’s family jewels. It was literally a two-bit plan: first remove Chief Justice Renato Corona on trumped-up charges, then install henchman Leila De Lima to the post. Control over the Supreme Court will have given Aquino’s feudal clan power over the fate of the vast Hacienda Luisita estate that, under Philippine laws, is due in 2014 to be subject to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The thing with true class acts is that they do not throw temper tantrums when they do not get their way — not when they are aged in their 50’s, and certainly not when they are president of a country of 100 million.
Unfortunately for the class-starved Filipino people, President BS Aquino is renowned for his juvenile tantrums. Even early in his presidency, BS Aquino was already known as The Man of a Thousand Gaffes. One of these gaffes was his having to eat his words after refusing to recognise Renato Corona as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during his campaign, proclaiming that…
“If elected President, I will not recognize a Chief Justice appointed by the outgoing President [Gloria Arroyo], contrary to the constitutional ban on appointments during the wee hours of her presidency, and contrary to propriety and delicadeza and long standing precedence of prohibition against appointments two months before the outgoing Presidentâ€™s term expires,” Aquino said in a statement sent to the Inquirer via text message by LP campaign manager Florencio Abad.
“Let me forewarn any member of the Supreme Court, who shall accept to be Chief Justice by appointment of the outgoing President, that not only shall he not be recognized, but he risks even his presence in the Court as an associate member,” Aquino added.
…only to retract all that huffing and puffing just a month after his ascent to the presidency:
[Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo De Mesa] was asked if President Aquino was recognizing the validity of Coronaâ€™s appointment as Chief Justice.
“That should be obvious by now,” De Mesa said.
“The President has acknowledged Chief Justice Corona as Chief Justice,” he added.
Of course, being the gun-loving president of the Philippine Republic, Aquino will not be beaten. It is likely that this humiliating backpedalling was what galvanised his resolve to get his way by any means his office puts at his disposal. As history was to later show, the President eventually got his way after unleashing his fury on the House Representatives to trump up, cobble together, and submit an impeachment complaint against Corona and mounting a more than six-month-long full-court-press on the case — and the media — to ensure his prosecutors — and conscripted persecutors — were properly “motivated” to deliver results.
For now, President BS Aquino is experiencing another one of the kabuwisitans that he associates with his job. But, if we are to believe his legions of admirers, he will probably be clever enough to find a way to work around it — and mount another circus that will yield the results he personally prefers.
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