A living political martyr

 

It was not too long ago that a running controversy erupted between Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte as to who was the smarter of the two.

Well, if Duterte kept his cool and exercised prudence, as his office expects him to do, people would have continued believing that he was the more intelligent.

Alas, Duterte got the better of his unbridled emotions, after Solicitor General Jose Calida reported his covert discovery that the amnesty granted to Trillanes in 2011 by then president Benigno Aquino III, for leading the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 and the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007, was defective.

Immediately, Duterte issued Proclamation 572, declaring the amnesty “void ab initio,” for supposedly having failed to comply with two requirements for its granting, namely, (1) application for amnesty and (2) admission of guilt.

There is no doubt in the minds of many who has been following how Duterte and Trillanes have been feuding that each has been laying traps for the other to fall into.

It looks like this time the foxy Trillanes has been able to successfully snared Duterte first, for how else would you describe it when it is Trillanes now who is accusing Duterte’s point man, Calida, of “stealing” his amnesty application documents following these statements:  “I am calling on the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense, particularly AFP’s J1. They knew that I applied. They knew that I have the documents. Why did they allow Mr Calida to take it and lose it?”

Indeed, what a turn of events!

But does this mean that Trillanes has now the upper hand against Duterte despite being out on bail after Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 ordered his arrest that brought him to the Makati City Central Police Station for booking procedures, while still making his office at the senate building his home?

That could be anybody’s guess, but one thing sure is that this turn of events has given Trillanes even more opportunity to be basking in the lime light which he enjoys doing.

This has always been Trillanes’s game plan – to be the center of attention – as a renegade soldier and now a controversial senator.

Remember the verbal tussles he had had with his peers, the likes of Sen. Zubiri, Sen. Gordon, Sen. Cayetano, and even former Sen. Enrile, when the latter was still active?

Trillanes always comes out strutting like a peacock after these episodes for having caught the attention of people and the same thing is happening now against Duterte. All ears and eyes are directed towards him, yet again.

Indeed, this is a classic case of how one is made a living political martyr, perhaps to the realization and consternation of Duterte.

 

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Sereno ousted

 

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Surprised?

Well, not really, if you ask me.

Ever since former president Benigno Aquino appointed Maria Lourdes Sereno as replacement for the ousted late Chief Justice (CJ) of the Supreme Court (SC) Renato Corona in 2012 for undeclared wealth, there was no denying that the writing on the wall was likewise ominous for her.

The fact that Sereno leapt over her more senior peers of associate justices was unfair enough, but it was even deemed more unthinkable that Sereno, then 52, was expected to stay in her post until reaching the mandatory retirement age in 2030. It is no secret that it is the dream of every associate justice who have aged and gone this far to head the SC one time or another before retiring.

Perhaps this is the reason why Sereno was joined by only five associate justices at her first flag-raising ceremony.  Local media viewed the absence of her eight other colleagues as a snub, and confirmation that she leads a divided court.

Divided court indeed, for at the crucial time when Sereno needed her associate justice’s support, eight (8) turned their back and left her to fall in disgrace.

This is what the writing on the wall was all about, so to speak. For one reason or for many reasons, for as long as it not only pleases the ears of those who dislike Sereno, but has found justifiable reason for her to be removed, then the mechanism for her ouster could immediately be initiated.

It all started last March when the House of Representatives’ justice committee voted on the impeachment complaint against CJ Sereno filed by lawyer Larry Gadon. During these times, Solicitor General Jose Calida also filed the quo warranto petition citing Sereno’s failure to submit the required statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth when she was applying for the Chief Justice position.

What happened is that the SC en banc granted the quo warranto petition that questioned the validity of Sereno’s appointment and, voting 8-6, ousted her.

The decision is expected to be immediately executory, pending the filing of a motion for reconsideration by Sereno.

Not a lawyer, I wanted to educate myself on what ‘quo warranto’ is all about and if it has all the legal basis in ousting an impeachable official like Sereno.

This is what I learned, and gladly sharing it with you, after I visited this site: https://oag.ca.gov/opinions/quo-warranto.

Quo warranto is a special form of legal action used to resolve a dispute over whether a specific person has the legal right to hold the public office that he or she occupies.

Quo warranto is used to test a person’s legal right to hold an office, not to evaluate the person’s performance in the office. For example, a quo warranto action may be brought to determine whether a public official satisfies a requirement that he or she resides in the district; or whether a public official is serving in two incompatible offices.

Quo warranto is not available to decide whether an official has committed misconduct in office. A person who commits misconduct in a public office may be penalized or even removed from office, but quo warranto is not the proper forum for those cases. Other processes are available for that purpose.

The term “quo warranto” (pronounced both kwoh wuh-rahn-toh, and kwoh wahr-un-toh) is Latin for “by what authority”—as in, “by what authority does this person hold this office?” The term “quo warranto” is still used today, even though the phrase no longer appears in the statutes.

Quo warranto originated in English common law as a process initiated by the crown to find out whether a person was legitimately exercising a privilege or office granted by the crown, or whether the person was instead intruding into a royal prerogative.

Yes to martial law in Mindanao – Part II

 

Former President Fidel Ramos

It boggles my mind why of all people Fidel Ramos, the military’s second most powerful official after General Fabian Ver during the dark years of the Marcos martial law era, and who later became president of the country, is stepping out front and disparaging at President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration putting the whole of Mindanao under martial law.

Ramos’ main fear and contention is that abuses of any manner, shape and form will destroy the nation once more, the way it happened during the Marcos years.

I think Ramos knows whereof he speaks because under Martial Law and the EDSA Revolution, Wikipedia has this to say about him: Ramos headed the Philippine Constabulary, then a major service branch of the Armed Forces, that acted as the country’s national police until 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos imposed Martial Law. Ramos is held responsible by for human rights abuses committed under Martial Law as head of the Philippine Constabulary chief; the unit responsible in the arrest tortures of civilians.

It is in this light that people should start reminding Ramos that the only similarity Duterte has with Marcos as a leader is in their ability to lead the country with an iron hand.

With Marcos’ corrupted wife and cronies, martial law was declared because of an ulterior motive to benefit themselves and that is what they did when the plundered the nation dry after committing the utmost human rights abuses.

Duterte, however, is putting the whole of Mindanao under martial because he is seeing Mindanao as becoming the hotbed of an emerging jihadist militant group belonging to the notorious ISIS that is known for spreading hatred, beheading victims on camera and instigating deadly terrorist attacks.

What is even bad, which justifies Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, is that the government has discovered that foreigners have joined the Maute group in battling the military forces in Marawi City.

“What is happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens. It has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign fighters,” Solicitor General Jose Calida, the government’s chief lawyer, told reporters in the southern city of Davao.

He said Malaysians, Indonesians, Singaporeans and “other foreign jihadists” were fighting in Marawi, one of the biggest Muslim cities in the mainly Catholic Philippines with about 200,000 residents.

Marawi looks like a ghost city now and if it is of any consolation to the terrified residents who are fleeing to Iligan City, Ramos will be doing the country a favor if he should instead urged Filipinos to rally behind Duterte and his administration’s drive to have lasting peace in Mindanao, improve the plight of all Filipinos and move the country forward.

(In the same breath let me invite you to this link which I saw three days after I posted this blog so you will know why I felt aghast at Ramos’ tirade against Duterte: http://www.dailytopmedia.com/2017/05/canadian-political-scientist-tells-fvr.html — Quierosaber).

 

The looming Duterte-de Lima verbal skirmish

 

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima

The plan of Sen. Leila de Lima to investigate the killings emanating from the Philippine National Police’ s (PNP) relentless drive against illegal drugs operation around the country, purportedly in aid of legislation, is certainly inviting a verbal skirmish from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

De Lima who was once a chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and who is expected to head the Senate justice committee seems to be insinuating that not only is human rights exceedingly violated but people are killed without the benefit of a full and fair trial which amounts to summary execution or extra-judicial killing.

I do not know if de Lima wants to grandstand this early in her career as senator, perhaps    flaunting her being a Justice Secretary not too long ago, but she should understand or perhaps should be reminded that those killed are the once opting to shoot it out with the police forces instead of cooperating with the law like the thousands of others all over the country who are voluntarily giving up the vice and surrendering after being asked to for their own sake.

Calling for an investigation on this issue this early will not do de Lima any good nor will it benefit the country. On the contrary, it will only highlight more her inadequacies, like I mentioned in my blog a few days ago. (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/de-limas-remarks-against-duterte-only-underscore-her-inadequacies/).

In fact, no less than Solicitor General Jose Calida, who was once undersecretary of the justice department in the Arroyo administration, has already started questioning de Lima’s ineffectiveness, saying, “There is no need for investigation in aid of legislation kuno (supposedly). Secretary de Lima, who was Secretary of Justice for 6 years… what happened during her tenure? Lalong lumakas ang proliferation of droga (Drugs proliferated more) even in her own turf, at the national penitentiary.”

Calida, reportedly, added: “If she’s truly sincere to stop this drug menace, let us ask her: what did she do as justice secretary in charge of the [National Bureau of Investigation], the prosecution service, and the correctional?”

Even PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa admitted feeling harassed, no doubt by people like de Lima, as he was tasked by Duterte to put a cap on the proliferation of illegal drugs by going after drug lords and drug users and pushers. Because of his dogged loyalty to and strong belief in Duterte, Dela Rosa instead urged his men to move forward in their operations and to not be “intimidated” by the threats of cases filed against them.

But the morale booster was Calida himself who promised the PNP hierarchy and its personnel that he will defend them to the hilt if anybody attempts to derail the effort exerted now by the organization to implement the order of Duterte to stop the illegal drug operation in the country.

Needless to say that more than Dela Rosa’s and Calida’s fight, drug menace in the Philippines is Duterte’s personal fight and de Lima and whoever else in Congress who opposes the way it is done must have to contend with the tough talking and iron fist president himself.