Ninoy Aquino would have turned in his grave, with his vindictive son President Aquino throwing all fairness, justice and decency to the garbage bin just to put Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in jail, just as the dictator did in 1972 to incarcerate him.
Ferdinand Marcos had more decency and allowed the convicted Ninoy to travel to the United States for a heart bypass surgery, already a routine operation at that time here. Now it is President Aquino who is even trampling on the constitutional right of a citizen to travel to seek medical care, and even defied the Supreme Court directive ordering it not to do so.
There is a devious reason to Mr. Aquino’s and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s madness in opposing even the highest court of the land. De Lima is lying when she claims that she is just doing her duty, since Arroyo has to face plunder charges against her. She and Aquino know that these plunder charges wouldn’t stand up in court, and Arroyo would be foolish to go on exile because of these flimsy accusations. They have therefore changed their stratagem.
Mr. Aquino himself unwittingly revealed this new tack—a desperate and shameless one—when he said after being asked why he was barring Arroyo from traveling: “There’s an allegation that there was this dinner, and there were certain things that happened there, and I think it was prudent of the executive to explore all of these things.”
The President was referring to the claim of one Norie Unas, the right-hand man of Andal Ampatuan Sr., one of the accused in the Maguindanao massacre, that he “overheard” Arroyo order his boss, after a dinner in Malacañang, to cheat for her senatorial slate to win in the 2007 elections.
Despite the ridiculousness of that claim, the electoral fraud charge it would lead to makes up the only tack that could put Arroyo in jail, since that accusation, if accepted for trial by a court, is non-bailable. Mr. Aquino’s operators have just recently rushed to concoct that charge, which they hope would have put her in prison before the Supreme Court issued its temporary restraining order.
“Put her in jail, basta!” has been Mr. Aquino’s marching orders to his officials since he assumed power 15 months ago. If the lady could do it with her predecessor Joseph Estrada after a few months in power, so could he very well do so, Mr. Aquino was said to have told his officials.
There was a bit of a problem though. In Arroyo’s case, there are no credible witnesses like Chavit Singson, Clarissa Ocampo, Willie Ocier, and 74 other witnesses—even his actual partners-in-crime—who testified against Estrada. There are no bank branch managers submitting to the court canceled bank checks, among the 1,500 pieces of documents that proved that Arroyo had amassed a billion pesos through graft.
In contrast, the support for the plunder charges against Arroyo, made by the leftist parties Bayan Muna, Akbayan, a job-applying Frank Chavez, and by a crackpot, could be put in a few words: “Refer to the Senate investigations.”
But these turned out to be full of sound and fury, while signifying nothing legally. Yes, they made the inquisitors household names for electoral purposes, but produced hardly any evidence that can stand up in court.
Sometime in August though, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Mr. Aquino’s as well as the late Fernando Poe Jr.’s election lawyer, thought he hit upon a brilliant idea. Mr. Aquino appointed Brillantes in January, but after nine months, Congress refused to confirm his appointment. The chief of the Comelec’s legal department accused him of corruption while Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was vetoing his confirmation. Mr. Aquino didn’t seem to want to spend his political capital to order Congress to confirm his appointee.
Brillantes made his move. He wily whispered to Mr. Aquino’s ears that there was a nearly forgotten section in the election automation law, RA 9639 of 2007. That provision defined a new offense called “electoral sabotage” which carried a penalty of life imprisonment. Under the Penal Code, that made it a non-bailable charge.
Brillantes’ brilliant idea: Arroyo could be accused by somebody who could be made to do so—to save his own skin—as having ordered tampering during the 2007 elections. She then would have to stand trial for “electoral sabotage.”
To make the move appear to be non-partisan and credible, he and De Lima created in August a body called “Joint DOJ-Comelec Preliminary Investigation Committee and Fact-Finding Team on the 2004 and 2007 National Elections Electoral Fraud and Manipulation Cases” to investigate Unas’ claims. A pretentious name that is, but it’s actually a task force that even violates the Constitution’s injunction for an independent Comelec, just to jail Arroyo, by hook or by crook, and to do so before the Supreme Court ruled the travel ban on her unconstitutional. Since the charge is non-bailable, she would be imprisoned.
That’s intended not only to humiliate and torment her. With details of her life-threatening illness having been disclosed in July and the plunder charges going nowhere, the plot against her has taken an abominable dimension. The scheme is, by whatever means necessary to put her in jail, where her health will irreversibly and fatally deteriorate, before the electoral-fraud accusation is exposed to all and sundry as an evil fabrication.
It is a desperate plan to kill the former president.
I hope Brillantes, de Lima, and the DOJ-Comelec investigators realize the kind of contemptible conspiracy they are being ordered to participate in.