Why impunity persists

The Daily Tribune  

Daily-Tribune-pork-barrel-scam-cartoonNo one should wonder why the Philippines remains a country where impunity reigns with the overbearing government officials it has.
Noynoy did not hesitate even when he was campaigning for the presidency in the 2010 elections to resort to extra-constitutional means, again through People Power, if, as he claimed then, he loses the elections which he claimed can only happen if he is cheated.
As President, his priority was for political cleansing, starting with the jailing of the former President, Gloria Arroyo, the ouster of the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court Chief Justice who both have constitutionally-guaranteed terms, and the removal of all appointees of Gloria Arroyo in government.
Noynoy’s Justice secretary who was plucked from the Arroyo government ironically shares his principle about being beyond the law, with the law not getting into the way of their objective.
During her Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed, with even an air of accomplishment, that she stopped Gloria and her spouse, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, from leaving the country without any legal basis.
She admitted that the watch list order on which strength the Arroyo couple was halted from leaving the country did not have any force in legally stopping their travel since the SC had issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Leila’s illegal HDO.
Citing the presumption of innocence principle of Philippine law, the high court, in effect, lifted the travel ban imposed by De Lima on the Arroyos.
De Lima, in effect, admitted to illegally detaining the couple citing her own judgment.
“I did it pursuant to the department circular and pursuant to my judgment then that it would be against the national interest for someone who is being charged with a major offense to be allowed to freely leave Philippine jurisdiction, she told members of the CA on questioning from Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
And to think, at that time, Gloria had not even been charged with any crime.
Discretion and too much of it had proved to be a source of abuse among government officials which is very evident in the current Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scandal when legislators and their accomplices in the Executive were suspected of abusing their privilege over the lump sum fund.
The same goes with policies that are based on mere “judgment” which nobody can distinguish from pure whim.
There were several such Palace edicts which Noynoy considered to be legal based on what he fancies but which ran counter to the law of the land.
The first was Executive Order 1 which sought to create the Truth Commission that will investigate all allegations of irregularities during the term of Arroyo which the SC struck down as a breach of the equal protection principle under the Constitution.
The SC also effectively struck down an Executive Order of Noynoy dismissing the supposed midnight appointees of Arroyo.
The SC favored a suit against the Executive Order which argued that Noynoy expanded the definition of the election ban on appointment in justifying the dismissal of government employees.
The SC ruling on the PDAF as unconstitutional was the latest among the string of SC decisions that clashed with Noynoy’s impositions on his capricious designs.
Amid the PDAF misuse scandal, Noynoy defended the legislators’ lump sum as a necessity saying that only its misuse should be condemned. He uses the PDAF as leverage in securing concessions from legislators primarily in the passing of administration measures, through outright bribery.
His minion, De Lima follows on his heels believing that she can always run circles around the law and get what she wants as long as Noynoy is in power.
During the confirmation hearing, she said the so-called “lookout order” on individuals traveling abroad is her creation and is not found in any existing law.
With a president and a Justice secretary freely interpreting what is good for the nation, the same attitude naturally runs through the entire government system.
Thus, members of media and other political critics are silenced for the sake of national security.


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