They said they weren’t pressured — nor, presumably, bought and paid-for, promised any favors or gifts, or intimidated — to make it. But the call by some judges, lawyers and Supreme Court employees for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign so obviously blames the victim for the decline of public respect for the Supreme Court rather than the desperadoes responsible for it that one can’t help but wonder how credible that claim is.
Former Senator Joker Arroyo, who was his mother’s executive secretary, called him an “evil genius” for his supposedly creative use of Article 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code of the Philippines to justify the Disbursement Allocation Program, in the process marking the first time that Benigno Aquino III has ever been so referred to by either epithet.
A genius, after all, Mr. Aquino is not, his record as both member of Congress and as President not being particularly bright, and DAP itself being the brainchild of his Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. If comparisons must be made with the Presidents of his real boss, the USA, he’s no Abraham Lincoln, but more like a Ronald Reagan, who knew at least one thing: how to communicate, and how to make people think they’re getting roses while he was handing out thorns.
THE FEBRUARY 18 decision of the Supreme Court is at best only a partial victory for free expression.
The Court declared the provisions of the Cyber Crime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA10175) on unsolicited commercial communications (Section 4c3), real-time collection of traffic data (Section 12), and blocking access to computer sites found in violation of the Act unconstitutional. These were among the key provisions the petitioners against the Act had identified as unconstitutional and infringing on several rights including the right to free expression.
ORGIES OF overspending, vote-buying, intimidation and outright coercion, and exercises through which a few political families have monopolized practically every elective office from city councilor to President, Philippine elections are already a mockery of representative democracy. The latest Supreme Court decision declaring the party list system open to established political parties will make them even worse travesties.
By a vote of 10 to two, the justices overturned the Court’s own declaration 12 years ago that only marginalized and underrepresented sectors can participate in party list elections, and instead allowed other political parties and groups to run for seats in the House of Representatives.
THE SUPREME COURT has granted a petition for live coverage of the Ampatuan Massacre trial filed by media advocacy groups, TV networks, individual journalists, and academics from the University of the Philippines. But it has imposed conditions some media organizations are already describing as difficult if not impossible to meet. Some are already talking about filing a motion for Court reconsideration of some of the conditions. Others may decide not to cover the trial at all.
Among the guidelines media organizations find problematic is the Court’s requiring coverage of the entire proceedings each time there are hearings. The trial is currently being held twice a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays), and usually lasts from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Any TV or radio station that applies for and is granted permission (one of the conditions the Court is imposing) to cover the trial Branch 221 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court is conducting would have to devote as much as five hours of coverage each time. No interruptions and commercial breaks are allowed except during recess periods, and no repeat broadcasts will be allowed on pain of the RTC’s withdrawing the station’s permit.
Practically everyone who’s not part of the Malacanang Mafia of conmen, plunderers, congressmen you wouldn’t buy a used car from, and relics of the martial law period has weighed in with his or her opinion on why there are plans afoot to impeach Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Mostly they’ve linked it to the wide-ranging conspiracy to keep the present Palace occupant in power beyond 2010.
Former Senate President Franklin Drilon thus said it’s part of a “grand scheme” to force amendments to the Constitution so our cross, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, can extend her term. In his own statements Senator Panfilo Lacson echoed Drilon’s take, as did Makati Mayor and United Opposition chair Jejomar Binay.
They could very well be right. Although the retirement of seven justices this year (Ruben Reyes retired last January 3, while Adolf Azcuna will retire next month, followed by Dante Tinga on May 11, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago on October 5, Leonardo Quisumbing on November 5, Minita Chico-Nazario on December 5 and Ma. Alicia Martinez on December 19) will give the Philippine Bush the opportunity to further pack the Court, she’s running out of time as far as charter change is concerned.