I must give credit to Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima for her unabashed sense of self-importance in accepting her nomination as Supreme Court chief justice.
De Lima knows she will not be accepted by insiders of the Supreme Court for defying a temporary restraining order on a watch-list order she had issued to prevent former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from leaving the country.
Still, de Lima claims she is fit to lead the Judiciary, which is supposed to be an independent branch of government.
I am flabbergasted when I think about the fact that she consulted the appointing power, President Noynoy Aquino, before she accepted her nomination. Why would she do that? Is that her version of independence and probity?
But as I said, there should be no surprises under President Aquino.
On July 23, when President Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address before Congress, he’s expected to list whatever his achievements were after two years in office. He is also expected to articulate his vision for the next four years of his administration.
I am sure he will cite the 6.4-percent growth of the gross domestic product during the first quarter. He will also talk about the $2 billion (or more) investments from the United States and the United Kingdom that were pledged to him during his trips to those countries. He will remind us that credit rating agencies have upgraded the Philippines’ status.
He will also trumpet the reduction of poverty with his Conditional Cash Transfer program—a dole scheme for the poor.
Certainly, he will brag about sending former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to jail and ousting former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
On the other hand, he won’t talk about these: the hunger that stalks the land, upsurge in crimes, smuggling at Customs, drug trafficking, human rights violations, the ability of high-profile personalities to evade arrest, and the continuing prevalence of graft and corruption in all levels of government.
He promised us change. Two years after, this change has not come about. So what is there to talk about?
On foreign policy, President Aquino has managed only to make the country more dependent on the United States. He worsened our relationship with China over the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Now, he wants to seek American aid by having US spy planes patrol islands we claim as ours.
On education, there has been no improvement on the lack of classrooms, facilities and teachers. The only change has been the introduction of K-to-12.
On peace and order, there has been no achievement in talks with communists and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
On graft and corruption, the entrenched syndicates at the Bureau of Customs are still at it. There is also corruption at the National Food Authority, Philippine National Police, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation and Communication.
It’s worse at the local government level.
Joblessness remains the foremost problem in our country. The Public-Private Partnership program has yet to yield results. Our airports are a source of embarrassment.
The President may boast that “it’s more fun in the Philippines.” Still, we have a long way to go. Thailand already has more than 15 million tourists a year; Indonesia and Malaysia each about 10 million; and Vietnam more than 9 million.
Sure, it’s more fun in the Philippines. But, only for wanted criminals who manage to evade arrests because the police or the NBI either do not care or refuse to hunt them down.
It is said that President Aquino will prove his points by a power-point presentation. But we can no longer be fooled. The issues that have not been addressed by the President are gut issues.
I admire Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares for declining her nomination as chief justice knowing that reform still has to be introduced completely at the bureau. Henares knows her priorities.
I cannot say the same thing of De Lima, who has neither probity nor delicadeza.
Some opinion writers have been praising Senator Koko Pimentel for his principles and conviction in bolting the United Nationalist Alliance coalition of Vice President Jojo Binay and former President Joseph Estrada because he said he could not be in the same senatorial slate as former Senator Migz Zubiri. Principles and conviction? Come on —coming from politician? That’s a laugh.
In any case, there’s betting going around on who between Koko and Migz would get more votes. All I can say is that the Pimentels have not won in any election in Cagayan de Oro City, their hometown.