If we cannot see, or refuse to see, that President Aquino 3rd and his candidate Manuel Roxas II, using Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales as their political assassin, are on a rampage to unfairly stop at all costs Vice President Jejomar Binay’s bid for the presidency next year, I’m afraid we are seeing the death of democracy in this nation.
This time obviously it is not through martial law, but through the Aquino-Roxas gang’s ability to exploit the weaknesses of our legal system. To do this, it has hired dubious complainants and witnesses against Binay and to bribe, through its pork barrel, Congress’ acquiescence to its machinations.
We have power-hungry, power-drunk maniacs out to suppress the people’s right to choose who their leaders will be.
It is sad for Binay, who had fought a dictatorship in his younger days, to now in his winter years have to fight a more sophisticated version of strongman rule.
We have to stop these enemies of democracy.
This has never happened before the entire history of our Republic:
For a Senate committee, obviously under a President’s thumb, to undertake investigations for a full year before the election into alleged corruption of a presidential contender who had seemed to be a shoo-in for the highest post, all in order to pull down his ratings, to brainwash people into believing that he is corrupt;
For the Ombudsman to become a key player in the political assassination plot by throwing the office’s very limited resources to persecute not only a presidential contender but his son, all in order to demoralize the man and frighten his allies and supporters; and
For the Senate and the mainstream press to acquiesce to such a plot against our democracy, believing the lies of a gang that it would lead the country to prosperity.
I suspect the next step would be one which should really outrage us, if we still can think for ourselves and see through this regime’s lies, if we still value democracy: the Ombudsman will order the arrest not only of Binay, Jr. and his father himself, a leading contender for the presidential contest next year. (They’ve already fixed the problem of Grace Poe Llamanzares: She will be disqualified.)
Never happened before
Such persecution of a presidential candidate has never, ever happened before in our history.
C’mon, the Friday before the Monday filing of the certificate of candidacy for all elected positions, the Ombudsman issues an order deciding that Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, Jr. is guilty of the overarching accusations of a losing candidate for the mayoralty years back? And the Ombudsman imposes a penalty that includes Binay Jr.’s perpetual disqualification from public office – which means he cannot run for Makati mayoralty next year? She investigates allegations, and she – and she alone, really – makes the decision on guilt or innocence?
And Ombudsman Morales even insults her former colleagues at the Supreme Court by issuing such an order when Binay, Jr. has a case pending there questioning his suspension by the Ombudsman two months ago, on the basis of the same charges? Why couldn’t she wait for the Court’s decision? Obviously to stop Binay, Jr. from filing his certificate of candidacy today, or at least frighten away his supporters.
What has happened to that principle that almost miraculously emerged in the 16th century to become a pillar of modern civilization and the rule of law, which we call due process?
Has there been a single hearing before an impartial judge to even determine if the documents proving the allegations of overpricing of the Makati Building II cited by the Ombudsman are even authentic? Have the contractors been summoned to explain whether they cheated on their pricing? Were reputable contractors asked if the price appeared to have been inflated? Were Makati officials asked if they thought there was no bidding of the contracts as the Ombudsman claims had been the case?
C’mon, apologists for the Ombudsman, and I assume the Ombudsman herself, would claim that R.A. 6770 gives her the power to impose “administrative penalties.”
But whatever the law seems to authorize the Ombudsman to do, it cannot override the Constitution’s more primordial Bill of Rights, which assures every citizen the right to due process and its provisions on how justice is served, which basically requires that an accused be given an opportunity to answer his accusers. Was Mayor Binay given such due process?
How can the Ombudsman, who according to the law that established the office is defined as “investigator and prosecutor” of government officials, suspected of corruption, be the judge herself?
There are two reasons why the alleged powers of the Ombudsman to decide on her own over graft allegations and issue penalties haven’t been questioned in the Supreme Court as to its constitutionality.
First, because of the widespread perception that graft has become so prevalent, the body politic had decided to look the other way and ignore its constitutionality.
This is especially so since the Ombudsman’s orders to remove elected officials from office were reversed in three of five such cases, on which I have been able to research before deadline for this column.
Secondly, and more importantly, past Ombudsmen were very careful in wielding such alleged power as they knew it was questionable to use it and must only be used with utmost care. Ombudsmen of the past had proven themselves to be above politics.
In contrast, I don’t’ think there has ever been an Ombudsman who, from all indications – as in her crucial role in removing the Chief Justice – has been so willing to act as the sitting President’s political assassin.
In the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, she lied on the witness stand and before TV news cameras in saying that bank records showed Corona had $10 million in dollar accounts, when the actual amount was just $1 million. She deliberately distorted the figures, adding up all the bank transactions so that a deposit and a subsequent withdrawal were counted twice. That was the biggest excuse for 20 of the Senators to find Corona guilty.
“It is no longer my concern if Mr. Binay appeals to a higher authority to reverse my decision,” Ombudsman Morales so imperiously told reporters. “I have done my job,” she said.
Morales certainly knows what her job is. Certainly fresh in her mind would be the case of Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano, who Morales decided was guilty of grave misconduct and therefore, must be removed from office. After the Ombudsman rejected his appeal for the order to be reversed, Soriano went to the Court of Appeals, which reinstated him. This took eight months.
This would mean in mayor Binay’s case (or even in his father’s case, if it comes to that), that a higher court would override the Ombudsman’s order only after the May 2016 elections.
Rule by, not of law
What Aquino and Roxas are doing has been done elsewhere in the globe, as narrated by historian Francis Fukuyama in his recent “Political Order and Political Decay,” in which he distinguishes rule of law, from rule by law. “In the latter case, the “law” simply becomes a tool by of the absolutist to suppress his rivals, a clever one as he can pretend there exists a “rule of law” with which everyone must comply.
We call it here “selective justice,” which is a misnomer since justice – as depicted in the famous “Lady Justice” representation of it – is blind-folded: it cannot select when justice is served.
Liberal Party stalwart and Oriental Mindoro governor Alfonso Umali was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for graft by the Sandiganbayan itself, a three-man court. Yet after attending the promulgation of the court’s decision, Umali simply went back to his office in Mindoro, telling reporters the decision was “not final.” And the Ombudsman does nothing to enforce a Court decision? There is even no hint at all in the provincial government’s official website that the governor with a big photo on its home page has been ordered jailed by the Sandiganbayan.
The Supreme Court itself ruled that the P72 billion Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP) was illegal, and even called for those responsible for it to be prosecuted, yet the Ombudsman hasn’t ordered Budget Secretary Florencio Abad – who is not even elected by the people – to be dismissed, or just suspended?
Was the Ombudsman’s announcement that she will file charges against Abad for implementing the illegal DAP merely a farce, so she could claim that she was going against both allies and enemies of Aquino?
In 2010 I was racking my brains asking myself why Aquino seemed obsessed, just a month after he assumed office, to remove Merceditas Gutierrez as Ombudsman. He got the Congress and the Senate to impeach her on the most insane grounds really, which required a major expenditure of his political capital. He even offered Akbayan agent Risa Hontiveros a slot in his senatorial slate in the 2013 elections so she would file an impeachment complaint. Yes, Gutierrez was an appointee of President Arroyo. But she had a decades-long career at the Justice Department, who wanted to do her job so she wouldn’t be suspected of being an Arroyo lackey.
Now we understand why. From day one of this regime, it was already plotting to perpetuate itself in power after Aquino steps down six years later. They have succeeded, probably by puffing up her ego, to get the Ombudsman become the deadly political assassin par excellence against Binay, who at that time already seemed to have the best chance of being the next president. Roxas was also livid over Binay’s unexpected victory over him, and vengeance, indeed, is a dish as cold as this Ombudsman can deliver it.
For chrissake, let the people decide in May who they want to be President!
FB: Bobi Tiglao