Tuesday, 17 April 2018 15:00

Call his bluff

At one point during the hearings by the House of Representatives’ committee on justice on the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Mindoro Oriental Rep. and committee chair Reynaldo Umali said a mouthful against Larry Gadon, the lawyer who had filed the complaint.

The committee had found that Gadon’s allegation of acts of favoritism and manipulation by Sereno were not supported by affidavits from the supposed resource persons he had mentioned in his complaint.

When asked if he had spoken directly with these people and if they could substantiate his claims, Gadon said they had not expressed willingness to cooperate but that they knew things, which was why he was suggesting that the committee invite them to testify: “Wala po silang pinarating sa akin na willing to cooperate pero meron po silang alam, kaya nga po sina-suggest ko po sa justice committee na sila ay imbitahin…”

Gadon’s allegations were, it thus appeared, mere hearsay, and he wanted the House to step in to do the job of buttressing his case against Sereno.

“Please do your homework,” a seemingly indignant Umali told him in response, adding that since he was the accuser, he should “do [his] job” and not, as some committee members had been complaining, make them do the investigation for him: “Ikaw kasi nag-aakusa kung kaya’t hinihingi nung pagkakataon na gawin mo naman yung trabaho mo. Yun yung inaangal ng kasamahan namin dito, na ginagawa mo kaming imbestigador mo, eh. Hindi kami yun.”

It was a moment of clarity in the proceedings, but one gone too soon.

As things stand now, it could have been a watershed point—the moment when sober-minded members of the House committee on justice came to their senses, saw through the lies and sham of Gadon’s complaint, and, rising beyond partisan interests, junked the impeachment complaint, thus sparing the republic the constitutional crisis now about to unfold with the administration’s full-on assault on the Chief Justice and an independent judiciary.

But then again, perhaps it was no more than a piece of theater — Umali et al. feigning anger at Gadon for the benefit of the cameras, but high-fiving him in private despite his comically flawed complaint. Because, incredibly, the hearings plodded on, and while more of Gadon’s deceits and misrepresentations came to light, in the end the House committee still vindicated him by voting to recommend Sereno’s impeachment.

Gadon’s capacity to survive one demonstrable act of public lying after another — even being rewarded by the House for his blatant untruths under oath in such a grave proceeding as attempting to unseat a chief magistrate — appears to be inexhaustible.

His extreme views on a number of national issues — on television, he advocated the mass killing of Muslims as a solution to the Mindanao strife; he also said the thousands of extrajudicial killings in the course of the government’s war on drugs were still not enough — should have long ago marked him out for the crackpot personality that he is, and disqualified him from being taken seriously.

Instead, shadowy forces have seemingly turned this lawyer’s profound aversion to norms of basic decent behavior into his chief qualification as the alpha attack dog in the game plan to cow the judiciary.

In the face of criticism of his unsubstantiated accusations and disreputable methods, Gadon can be counted on to try to outshout, curse, flail, and lash at his critics.

His recent reprehensible behavior in Baguio before a group of pro-Sereno protesters was vintage Gadon: flashing the dirty finger, yelling profanities, and shrieking “bobo” (dumb) at anyone but himself.

What is taking the Integrated Bar of the Philippines so long to disbar this outrageous excuse for a lawyer?

Gadon has declared that he didn’t care about being disbarred, claiming that he would still be able to eat lavishly even if he lost the right to practice law. His peers should quickly call his bluff.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/112518/call-his-bluff#ixzz5CuXOXoX9 
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Published in News
Thursday, 23 March 2017 10:10

A grand game of chess

CHESS is a mind game of strategy between protagonists that involves tactical moves and counter-moves. And the winner purportedly is the one who thinks ahead by several moves.

The Duterte presidency has been involved in an exciting game of chess of late pitted against several players – akin to an exhibition tournament where the grandmaster simultaneously clashes against several amateurs. But in this political chess, it is not simply an exhibition; and the adversaries are not of lesser caliber; and the spectators are left guessing as to the next moves of the combatants.

Several recent moves may be part of a larger scheme to throw him off balance and could be a concerted effort towards an eventual checkmate. Ponder upon the following: the re-emergence of Arthur Lascañas as a perjured prime witness against the Deegong accusing him as the patron of the Davao Death Squad (DDS); the recent video clips released by VP Leni Robredo in the international media on the DU30-authored extra-judicial killings (EJK); and now the first impeachment complaint against Duterte by the Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano, all within the space of one month. One can’t help but conclude that this could be part of the “destabilization” directed against the DU30 administration.

As a flashback, the Magdalo group, led by an active Navy officer mutinied against the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in that infamous Oakwood episode of 2003; the same officer Antonio Trillanes is now a senator of the land and the bete noire of the Deegong. And they are at it again, throwing rocks at the DU30’s ship of state, hoping and waiting for it to sink.

And now the minority partisans of this deadly political chess game are drawn into the fray once again taking sides; the fanatical Red and Blues defending the status quo and the Yellows relishing the role of the opposition. The moves and counter moves are currently fought in social media and in the halls of Congress – deflecting attention from the all-important task of good governance. The greater segment of the citizenry, we, mere onlookers, no doubt could be the biggest losers.

PRRD could be his own worst enemy here if he continues to be waylaid by these irritants – for indeed, they are. I have no doubt in the President’s sincerity to do good for the national constituency as he did well with the local community as a city mayor. In fact, Gina Lopez, the beleaguered environment secretary has described Duterte as “the real thing”. His economic programs as enunciated by his economic team are laudable, but it needs his personal attention. His election promise to usher in a new governance paradigm, rejecting the defective unitary form of government through a shift to a parliamentary-federal form will need the revision of the 1987 Constitution. This is his other priority and he needs to stay in focus.

But let us examine closely his current predicament and see if these are really worth his being derailed from his chosen path. First, he has barely warmed his seat in office and an impeachment complaint has been filed. But what will it take for this to prosper in the lower house; just another numbers game and the endorsement of the leadership. He has the backing of his super-majority – and its leadership in his pocket. There is no way impeachment will succeed.

Second, the noisy opposition is mulling over the possibility of filing cases in the International Criminal Court for crimes committed during his stint as a city mayor and on human rights violations. PRRD need not concern himself with his own defense. He has a thousand lawyers who can carry the burden of litigation if ever it will come to that; not to mention that the Lascañas and Matobato confessions, perjured witnesses all, are being used to make these cases against him. Legal luminaries doubt these will prosper at all.

Third, VP Robredo’s rant at a United Nations commission may bring her sympathy internationally and girl scout points but bluster does not get an international criminal trial going. PRRD need not concern himself with the fall-out if any, and social media is heavily on his side.

Clearly, Trillanes, a major instigator along with the Magdalo group and the disgruntled LP congressmen and senators who lost juicy committee chairmanships are doing everything to “destabilize” this administration. Even then, this is expected and par for the course. The Deegong from the very start of his regime has attracted controversy and in fact has in some bizarre way, sought it. These are merely bumps on the road and he will survive them. As the saying goes, “…what doesn’t kill him can only make him stronger”.

The Deegong—with 80 percent of the people’s approval; the political support of his elected super-majority; and the near-subservience of a bureaucracy long inured to patronage—has the singular ability to lead this country where he said he would: out of the clutches of corruption and poverty towards the promise of real “pagbabago”. He simply needs to keep his eyes “on the ball” as it were.

To paraphrase Michelle Obama: “If they take the low road, we go high”. It is high time for the President to do the same. Though somewhat aberrant, we are still living under the precepts of democracy, where criticisms and controversies may arise at any time.

What would really take PRRD to face these head-on? Perhaps it is time for a game changer. Buckle down and work diligently towards the fulfillment of his electoral promises; become less ambiguous on his responses to questions given by the media; and simply stay on message.

Simply put, still be the Deegong without the expletives!
Published in LML Polettiques