Three cases — PH politics and jurisprudence

Three cases — PH politics and jurisprudence Featured

Second of 3 parts

LAST week's column cited three crimes involving powerful people: former president Rodrigo Duterte, former congressman and deputy speaker Arnulfo Teves Jr., and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. These high-profile criminal cases have international implications, but they don't matter. Their local deleterious political repercussions have more importance. And considering how the wheels of justice in this country turn and grind slowly, based on similar cases involving the high and mighty, I estimate that social and mass media will determine a short life expectancy until the next controversy supersedes. And out of the public glare, our dysfunctional system intrudes, and in the end, nothing happens. These three would most probably go scot-free, and Philippine jurisprudence will be none the worse for wear. The man in the street will speculate why. Na politika na naman!

Deegong and Quiboloy cases

It is now obvious that the continued investigation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) cases when BBM said he was studying the Philippines' return to the ICC fold triggered Duterte's ire that is now tearing the UniTeam and the political firmament apart. The Philippines under Duterte withdrew from the international tribunal in 2019 after he questioned its authority to investigate his campaign against illegal drugs that killed thousands of Filipinos. The Marcoses, upon BBM's assumption of the presidency, were then fully behind this move. But BBM's reversal was the Damocles sword held over the former president's head, the red line BBM can't cross, sparking vituperative statements calling BBM "bangag," a dope addict, with his two sons artlessly joining the chorus excepting the daughter, Sara, who did not exactly stay in the sidelines — a fact that riled the first lady.

No doubt the cavalier treatment by the Marcos camp of VP Sara, stripping her of intelligence funds from which a substantial portion traditionally and anomalously could be diverted to future campaign funds, to the very public snub by the first lady Liza of Sara added fuel to the political fire now raging between the two political dynasties. Political cognoscenti and pundits see these as the opening gambits for the mid-term elections in 2025 and the ultimate 2028 presidential elections.

As to the powerful ally of the Dutertes, Pastor Quiboloy and his media empire, the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), may go the way of a similar Duterte bete noire, the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN. SMNI's disenfranchisement is now going through the wringer in Congress, orchestrated by the powerful Marcos relative, House Speaker Martin Romualdez — the not-so-apparent heir to the Marcos political dynasty. The ASOG Quiboloy likewise has a deadly cloud of uncertainty hovering over his head with his possible extradition to America over a multitude of cases being investigated by the US FBI of rape, child molestation, cash smuggling, and laundering. Urban legend suggests the ASOG may be hiding in plain sight in Davao, protected by his Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church (KOJC) — his and Duterte's bailiwick, where even the uniformed authorities must look the other way. Then again, the finale to all these is substantially in the hands of President Marcos. But politics is the underlying condition upon which these may be resolved.

The case of the ex-congressman

It could be different with ex-congressman Arnulfo Teves Jr. Compared to the previous two; he is a small fish in a pond now undergoing the process of expulsion from Timor-Leste from where he was arrested, living the good life of a rich fugitive. He is not too high up in the national political totem pole to become a headache for the Marcoses, but his clan in the Visayas could prove to be invaluable in Negros Oriental and Visayas politics as he can boast of a distinguished bloodline: former Negros Oriental governors 'Meniong' and Lorenzo Teves, former finance secretary Margarito Teves, brother and former governor Pryde Henry Teves (his election was annulled by Comelec), and assorted local government (LGU) mayors and minor elective officials. These are bargaining chips in our type of transactional politics.

From where we sit, the resolution of these cases depends not so much on Philippine jurisprudence and the fairness of our justice system but on the exigencies and realities and how the pragmatism of politics will unfold these coming months. And these are the prevailing conditions by which this country is now being perceived by our neighbors and tragically even by our own citizenry and which right-thinking Pinoys should be ashamed of.

Will the Deegong be brought to face the ICC and answer for his transgressions — if any — and satisfy the demands of families of the thousands of victims reportedly killed during his regime? I doubt it! He is too politically powerful and has enough clout to prevent being arrested, even if a warrant of arrest comes from the ICC. Currently, he has maintained his high popularity with the Filipino masses, and a substantial portion of the elected senators and congressmen owe him fealty. For the mid-term elections of 2025, he ranks a high second place in the senatorial preference surveys, according to the polls conducted by Publicus Asia. And among those senators who could win, more than half are his minions and allies.

Can he be arrested in Davao? And by whom? The ICC has no police powers or an independent mechanism to enforce arrest warrants and depends solely on the host countries' judiciary systems. Reportedly, ICC judges have issued 40 such warrants in 22 years of existence, and 15 of those to be arrested remain at large. Vladimir Putin himself has an ICC-issued warrant of arrest.

The same may be true with the Deegong's ally, Pastor Quiboloy, as far as his cases in America are concerned. He may not be easily extradited to the US despite the FBI labeling him "wanted in America." He has too many powerful friends elected to the Senate and and the House through the captive votes of his church with a claimed membership running to the millions, not to mention the tax-free millions of church funds under his control. He has boasted that his assets are in the billions of US dollars. And he has the protection of his newly appointed KOJC assets "encargado" — the Deegong himself.

Yes, he could be arrested for the local criminal charges against him, but prosecuting him through the cracks of the Philippine justice system would almost be next to impossible — the reason why he fears the US CIA rendition.

What is imperative for the country is the need for the presidency to display moral ascendancy with a clearly defined agenda to effect change using one's political capital exhibiting political will. It doesn't give the citizenry much confidence and the leadership much credibility when, for example, it is challenged by a former speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez, the Deegong's ally, calling for the military to withdraw support from a legitimate government. And BBM does nothing!

We boast of being the first truly democratic country in Asia when America first planted its system of governance and the underlying concepts of republicanism and democracy, where we uphold the rule of law. Perhaps it is high time to review these standards for their continued relevancy.

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Read 182 times Last modified on Saturday, 27 April 2024 06:34
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