The Many Hats We Wear Part 2

This is the second part of The Many Hats We Wear that I previously posted a few days ago. Let us take a look at more intriguing  personalities that have been seen and heard lately in the news, and what hats I believe they are wearing nowadays.

Edcel C. Lagman


In the current state of the country, what Lagman, and the other representatives that are allied to former President and now Representative Arroyo, is doing could be considered as outright character assasination as well.  For every move that Malacanang makes, there will always be a contradicting statement coming from Lagman. An example was when the Aquino administration exerted all efforts and even went against the Judiciary just to pin down Arroyo, he was there voicing his disgust. Another instance was when a representative proposed to rename EDSA into Cory Aquino Avenue, Lagman was one of the first ones to air his dislike.

Though not really a hat, the hood also covers the head. Similarly Lagman is like an assassin just like the character in the Assassins Creed video game who wears a hood and kills people that he believes have ridiculous ideologies. Lagman does not hide his hate for the present administration, but he aims to kill the foundation of the government by criticizing it to the extreme.

Milagros “Mitos”  H. Magsaysay

She is truly a hard worker who aims to criticize all the moves of the Aquino administration, which she believes are all immature and the work of amateurs. But it seems her expectations are a bit too high especially when the administration she has openly criticized has been in control for less than two years only, and is still in the process of cleaning up the mess the previous administration has made.

The present administration is still young and one could not give a justifiable and fair performance evaluation yet especially if compared with its predecessor. Remember that Arroyo was in power of nine years.  A lot happened during those nine years Arroyo was head of state. It would take a miracle if the Aquino government could swiftly eradicate the irregularities that has plagued the nation. The 6 years of Presidency would still not be enough. As we obviously can see, 9 years as compared to 6 years is a very uneven match. If Magsaysay could lay out the blueprints on how to perform and implement this miracle, then I will bow my head to her and campaign for her Presidency.

So to Magsaysay, the hard hat is very suited. She is really a hard worker but she needs the hard hat to protect her head from flying objects that may come from disgusted Filipinos who avidly supports Aquino’s “Daang Matuwid”. The falling debris may also eventually knock her unconscious if she continues to try to break apart the walls of the administration instead of strengthening its framework.


Renato C. Corona

Corona’s sins are monumental.First he has laid a wreath at the meaning of “Supreme.”That was so from the start. He should never have been there. Corona was a midnight appointee.  For services rendered in the past, for services to be rendered in the future. P-Noy would soon void all midnight appointments but Corona would dodge that by the simple ploy of his own court ruling that he was exempted from it. To date, he is the only remaining midnight appointee since the dawning of a new president.
Second. He has laid a wreath at the meaning of “Court.”

Right has turned out wrong and wrong right in the Corona Court. There have been instances when right was denied sanctuary and wrong found refuge in the Corona Court.

“Never before has the entire judiciary, even in the days of martial law, been subjected to so much disrespect and lack of civility from sectors we sincerely consider to be our partners in nation-building,” Corona groused. He has only himself to blame.

To Corona, the Supreme Court Justice wig used for ceremonial occasions but on top is a kangaroo’s head beanie hat symbolizing his kangaroo court.

Edcel Lagman’s Personal Background:

Edcel C. Lagman  was born May 1, 1942. He graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1962, and received his Bachelor of Laws from the same university in 1966. He is the 1st district Representative from the province of Albay and the House Minority Leader.

He is the brother of Filemon “Ka Popoy” Lagman, a labor leader and the founder of the Partido ng Manggagawa, who was gunned down by suspected communists in front of the Bahay ng Alumni in UP Diliman in 2001, and political activist Hermon Lagman, who disappeared during the time of Martial Law under the late president Ferdinand Marcos. His son and namesake, Edcel Lagman, Jr., has been a Quezon City councilor since 2004. The younger Lagman topped the council race in the city’s 4th district last May. He is married to Maria Cielo B. Lagman.

In 1998 he unsuccessfully ran for Senator under Joseph Estrada’s Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino, placing 15th.

Perhaps realizing that efforts to make Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo House Speaker would be futile, the administration party Lakas-Kampi-CMD has chosen Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman as its candidate for Speaker but lost against LP’s Sonny Belmonte.

Lagman is currently on his last and sixth term as as a Member of the House of Representatives, representing the 1st District of Albay, having previously served from 1987 to 1998, and then from 2004 to the present. He has been consistently received the Outstanding Congressman award from 1987 to 1998, and from 2004 to 2008. His daughter Krisel B. Lagman-Luistro represented the district from 1998 to 2004.

Lagman is presently a member of the LAKAS-CMD Party, and is the main proponent of the Reproductive Health Bill.

According to Lagman’s website, his principal advocacies, among others, are education, empowerment of local government units, and reproductive health and population development.

Lagman is the author of House Bill (HB) 326, or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2008. Other major laws he authored include Republic Act (RA) 9346, prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty in the country; RA 7731, which abolished the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE); and RA 9500, or the University of the Philippines Charter of 2008. He is also the honorary chairperson of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND).

Perhaps the most controversial bill Lagman has authored is House Bill 17, or the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, which has been judged by critics as anti-life and pro-abortion.

Lagman dismissed these allegations, saying the bill strengthens family life by giving parents an informed choice in planning their families. Still, opponents of the Bill, notably the Catholic Church, dispute these claims.

He is no way related to the alleged killer or assassin of Ninoy Aquino. Rolanda galman, allegedly the trigger man who shot ninoy at the tarmac as he arrived back home from a long exile to fight the marcos dictatorship. To this day, it has never been really established who killed ninoy nor was the mastermind identified.

It is ironic that both of Edcel Lagman’s brother may have been killed by hired assasins too. That is why the representative had drafted the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2008 that seeks to make enforced disappearance a crime. He was among the lawmakers who pushed for the immediate passage of the bill appropriately during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),

He said it is lamentable that enforced disappearance and torture incidents in the country continue even though the Philippines was among the first to sign the UDHR in Dec. 10, 1948. “We still suffer the continuing commission of enforced disappearances as well as the immunity being enjoyed by the perpetrators of this global offense,”

At a press briefing, Lagman refuted the government’s claim it had succeeded in reducing the projected P100 billion budgetary deficit for 2011 to a mere P26 billion through savings, as he claimed the huge reduction in the projected budgetary deficit for this year was not generated by government savings but by the government’s refusal to spend money on approved projects as provided for in the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Already almost two years into office, Aquino, Lagman said, has yet to produce substantive results of his administration of the country’s affairs.

“He still has nothing to show in terms of any coherent agenda to improve the nation and the economy,” Lagman said.

“Naipasa at naaprubahan nga ang national budget nang mas maaga, pero wala namang isinagawang mga programa at proyektong pang-imprastruktura,” the Albay solon noted. “Tapos at lumipas na ang tag-araw, tag-ulan na, ngunit walang mga bagong proyektong kalsada, gusali, tulay o pantalan ang nagawa o naitayo. Kaya naman mukhang nabawasan ang ating fiscal deficit.”

“Mahal na Pangulo, hindi na maisasalba ng paninisi at paninira ang kabagalan ng inyong administrasyon. Sa tagal ng inyong pagkakaupo, kailangang may maipakita rin kayong ginawa.”

Lagman added the laid back and complacent attitude with which Aquino “attends to his immense duties betrays his lack of concern for the people he has sworn to serve.”

“May we remind President Aquino, the presidency cannot be discharged or presided as mere afterthought, neither could it succeed by alibis and faultfinding,” he said.

“Perhaps, it sounds good that our fiscal situation improved but, in reality, no pump-priming activity has been done by our government which could have bolstered our economy,” he added.

In an interview after the press briefing, Lagman said Aquino might be committing a crime against the people by depriving them of the basic services.

“This whole thing about reducing the budget deficit is nothing but a window dressing. It’s only artificial. And this is being done at the expense of the people who are being deprived of the basic services due them,” Lagman said.

“The problem is here is that when the time comes they decide to start spending, with the continuing rise of the price of oil and other commodities, the original budgetary allocation for a specific project might no longer suffice for the project cost. In that case, the budgetary deficit can no longer be manageable,” Lagman averred.

Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay’s Personal Background:

Maria Milagros Habana Magsaysay, born January 4, 1964 is married to Jesus Vicente Magsaysay. She is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines in 1985. She is the Representative of the 1st district of Zambales. She is a member of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives.

She is the daughter-in-law of Vicente Magsaysay, a veteran politician that came from the same political family of former President Ramon Magsaysay

She is one of the signers of House Resolution 1109 calling for a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution.

When asked what do former Cabinet members in the previous administration share in common with political allies and relatives of former President Macapagal-Arroyo who are now members of Congress?

She answered: “All have not received their share of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more commonly known as pork barrel allotment, this year.” She declared that their issuance of their share of the PDAF had been delayed because of their criticism of the Aquino administration.

She chastised President Aquino describing him as the worst President the country ever had.

In a text message, Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay scored Aquino for his failure not only in delivering basic services to the people but also in failing to solve the country’s mounting political and economic woes as well attributing them to the President’s laziness and incompetence.

“P-Noy is the most amateur, stubborn, laid back, lazy, immature and least knowledgeable President we ever had,” Magsaysay said, referring to Aquino who is known to report to Malacañang at noon and is alleged to spend late nights playing play station portable (PSP).

Magsaysay also blamed the administration’s poor policy direction and decision-making process on Aquino’s laid back attitude.

“Because he is too laid back and not knowledgeable on most issues, it greatly affects the policy direction and decision-making process of the government,” Magsaysay averred. “He can’t discern from what should be done and what shouldn’t be done.”

“(And) Since he is not a result-oriented person, he doesn’t push his Cabinet to excel and is contented with a mediocre performance,” the lady solon added.

The Zambales lawmaker also scored Aquino for being too immature, saying it is a stumbling block to his presidency “as he can’t rise above constructive criticisms to challenge him to do better.”

She advised the President to hit the ground running and draft concrete actions against lawlessness and worsening poverty.

“It’s about time somebody tells the President that being President is not a privilege. You should be a workhorse. The problem with the administration is that it is not proactive, it’s just reactive. As President of the country, the Cabinet should have foresight into looking at how to best address problems,” she said.

Unlike his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Aquino is not keen in holding regular Cabinet meetings as he preferred to meet his alter-egos through clusters.

In its official statement, the minority said there is no room for complacency for the President amid the surge of criminality and price hikes in various goods and services.

These include the looming power crisis in Mindanao, the rising prices of fuel and fares in metro trains, the resurgence of crimes through the carjackings and killings, among others.

“We had hoped that solutions to these concerns could at least be started. Instead, what we hear are more of the same witch-hunting and fault-finding games leveled at officials appointed by the previous administration

She floated the idea that increasing the “presidential pork” had long been the alleged motive of Aquino’s allies in the bicameral conference when they failed to approve the colatilla or the safety provisions during the ratification of the P21-billion CCT item in the national budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“The mere fact that the Lower House put that colatilla, I’m sure everybody knows about that (presidential pork). Perhaps, they saw that the disbursement of money for CCT is not that transparent,” Magsaysay said.

“Maybe that (increasing the savings) has been their (allies of Aquino) rationale why they did allow the approval on the colatilla all along. Well, it’s a speculation because in the end, when you say savings, the president can realign it anywhere,” she said.

Magsaysay also expressed doubt that the creation of a special oversight committee will still be insufficient in ensuring the strict distribution of the CCT fund, reiterating that the government has to formalize the realignment of CCT saving to health and educational programs.

Aquino was expected to receive as much as P12 billion worth of “presidential pork barrel” or social funds from realignments in the national budget for 2011.

This is the amount in savings which Aquino stands to dispense at his discretion after the partial distribution of the P21-billion fund for Conditional Cash Transfer Program (CCTP).

“It (savings) will reach more than P11 to P12 billion, considering that former President (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo only spent P10 billion for CCT last year,” Magsaysay said.

Any unspent budget allocation automatically goes to national savings, which will be put under the discretion of the President for realignment, she explained.

She said the P83-million budget allotted for Truth Commission will also increase “presidential pork” after the Supreme Court (SC) declared its creation as unconstitutional.

Magsaysay noted that the annual earnings from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) will further raise the national savings of the government next year.

She also had a heated argument with Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco regarding the RH bill.

Cojuangco was interpellated by Magsaysay, at times responding with arrogance, over points in which she apparently was not well-versed but swiftly making an admission that surprised even her co-RH proponents.

When Cojuangco streesed that a new law is what is needed because the Magna Carta of Women was not strictly being implemented, Magsaysay replied, “We can make laws here, we can even pass that RH bill if you want to. But that does not ensure that the national government will provide you with what is necessary to implement it. Why don’t you compel the government to provide what is necessary to ensure maternal health care as mandated by the Magna Carta of Women?”

The Magna Carta of Women (MCW), which Magsaysay repeatedly pointed out was an existing law that already addresses the concerns Cojuangco mentioned as reasons why an RH law should be introduced.

“There is an existing law, so compel the national government to provide the funds to ensure that there are birthing facilities in all rural [clinics], that these are equipped with medicines and vitamins as far as pregnant women are concerned, that they also have doctors, nurses and midwives in rural clinics, and that they can also provide free medical services in case the mother has no money to deliver her baby safely,” Magsaysay added.

“You do not need to pass your RH bill to ensure that there are doctors, nurses and midwives because [these are] already provided by law,” she continued.

“All we have to do is to compel the present government to provide proper maternal health care to all the mothers,  to provide the proper neonatal care to all the mothers and babies, to provide the proper gynecological care to all women… just to make sure that the mothers do not die, that children do not die. But we don’t need to pass the RH bill; we need  to compel the national government to implement the provisions of the MCW.”

She also scolded Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang for making a supposedly “arrogant” remark during a budget hearing at the House of Representatives.

Deputy Minority Leader and Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay was questioning Carandang over the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSPO)’s supposed failure to communicate President Benigno Aquino III’s accomplishments to the public.

Earlier this month, the two officials also clashed after Magsaysay and Minority Floor Leader Edcel Lagman hinted at an allegedly anomalous purchase of computers by a government office.

Although not directly identified, Carandang’s office immediately issued a statement saying that the PCDSPO’s purchase of computers underwent proper bidding. In the same statement, Carandang described Magsaysay as “a known ally of one of the most corrupt presidents this country has ever had.”

“Don’t you think you have failed in your mandate in communicating the good policies of President Aquino?” the lawmaker asked Carandang during the hearing.

“Was that a rhetorical question or did you actually want me to answer that?” Carandang answered back.

After Carandang’s response, Magsaysay started scolding the Cabinet secretary for what she described as “arrogant” reply.

“Let me remind you that arrogance has no place in public service. And [if] you are going to be arrogant, then I don’t think you should stay any longer in public service… You are a breed of public servants who has no place in public service,” she said.

“Ikaw, appointed official ka lang, ano karapatan mong maging arogante? ‘Yung pagiging arogante mo at pagiging spoiled brat mo, iiwan mo iyan sa bahay mo. Once pumasok ka sa Office of the President, matuto kang maging humble,” she said.

Magsaysay criticized the Aquino administration for being “obsessed” with Mrs. Arroyo. “Accountability is good, but that is not your ultimate mandate… They are so obsessed with former President Arroyo that they have forgotten to govern in other aspects,”

She added that Aquino should also show the same enthusiasm he is exhibiting in fighting corruption in solving the country’s other problems such as poverty and unemployment.

“Sana the same zeal he [Aquino] has in going after former President Arroyo is the same zeal he has in trying to address other problems that are pressing this country,” Magsaysay said

She had spoken her mind on just about any issue, including the Pantawid Pasada (subsidy to jeepney and tricycle drivers), the conditional cash transfer (subsidy to poor families) and the power rate hikes.

“I criticize, I’m not politicking,” she said.

Renato C. Corona’s Personal Background:

Renato C. Corona  was on October 15, 1948 in Tanauan City, Batangas, and married to the former Cristina Roco. They are blessed with three children, all professionals and graduates of the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines.  He is the incumbent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. He was appointed to the Court on April 9, 2002 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On May 12, 2010, two days after the 2010 elections and a month beforeArroyo’s term expires, Corona was appointed as 23rd Chief Justice of the Philippines.

He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, also with honors, from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1970.  It was here where he honed his skills in writing and argumentation, the indispensable tools for writing decisions with clarity, persuasion and sagacity. He was the editor-in-chief of The Guidon, the university student newspaper of the Ateneo and was secretary-general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines from 1968 to 1970. He was also the captain of the overall champion team of the 1970 Annual Debating Tournament of the Ateneo School of Arts and Sciences.

Justice Corona finished his Bachelor of Laws at the Ateneo Law School in 1974, where he also served as a member of the faculty for 17 years teaching Commercial Law, Taxation and Corporation Law, the same subjects that became the focus of his many articles and columns in several newspapers.  He also wrote for the Ateneo Law Journal. Justice Corona is also took up his doctoral studies in civil law at the University of Santo Tomas where he was given the award of Most Outstanding Graduate School Student.

He also received a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School in 1982. He earned his Doctor of Civil Law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School in 2011. Having married right after college, he held a full-time job in the Office of the Executive Secretary in Malacañang Palace while attending night classes in law school.

After law school, he pursued the Master of Business Administration course (without thesis) at the Ateneo Professional Schools.  In 1981, he was accepted to the Master of Laws program in Harvard Law School where he focused on foreign investment policies and the regulation of corporate and financial institutions.  He was conferred the LL.M. degree by Harvard Law School in 1982.

As a young lawyer, Justice Corona served as special counsel at the Development Bank  of  the  Philippines.  He later became senior vice-president and general counsel of the Commercial Bank of Manila and later, a senior officer of the Tax and Corporate Counseling Group of the Tax Division of Sycip Gorres and Velayo (SGV & Co.).

Corona served as the Presidential Legal Counsel and Deputy Executive Secretary to President Fidel Ramos. In 1998, he became the chief of staff and spokesperson of then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. When Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001, Corona was appointed as the Presidential Chief of Staff.

Many has prejudged Chief Justice Corona, not exactly because of who he is and what he has accomplished, but rather because of who appointed him. While the timing may not be the most auspicious, the appointment of Chief Justice Corona was said to have passed through and complied with rigid constitutional processes, including the nomination process of the Judicial and Bar Council, which the Court, in its March 17, 2010 ruling in JBC v. De Castro (sans then Associate Justice Corona who inhibited himself), confirmed as constitutional, and not covered by the constitutional ban.

Whether we like it or not, the President is mandated by law to appoint the new Supreme Court Chief Justice. But who had the legal right (was it President Arroyo or Aquino who was May 14, 2010 President-Elect?) to appoint the successor of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, who retired last May 17, 2010?

This is the first time that there was a “chief justice in waiting.” Before, presidents announce their choices for the chief justice post upon the retirement of the sitting chief justice.

The appointment of now retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno  replacement has been the most contested, with some saying that President Arroyo can no longer make the appointment due to the ban under Section 15 Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that only temporary appointments can be made within two months before the national elections.

But the Supreme Court in its March 17 ruling said that positions in the Supreme Court are exempted from the appointment ban.

Constitution expert Joaquin Bernas also said that there can be no appointment without a vacancy.

Though the Supreme Court had ruled that Arroyo can appoint the successor of the retired chief, I’m still among those who disagree with the ruling.

I disagree for the following reasons:

Technically, at the time the ruling was made, Arroyo has made no such appointment yet, the position of Chief Justice was not even vacant, so just like Justices Nachura andBrion, the Court should not have made a ruling for there was, at the time, no justiciable controversy.

Substantially, I disagree with the ruling, not simply because it’s the popular view, but a more cerebral reading of the Constitution says that among other things, the President’s appointing power is suspended during the two months preceding a Presidential election.

There’s no questioning the credentials of Justice Corona. He is one of the brilliant minds in the Court today. Being the most senior among the Associate Justices, tradition weighs heavily to favor his appointment as the next Chief Justice.

But since timing is everything, had he not been appointed during the period when the President is prohibited from doing so, and only because the outgoing President insisted in doing such, then Corona’s appointment would be accepted by both the public and the new in-coming President.

All this could have been avoided if only the Supreme Court did not allow itself to be dragged along by Arroyo in going against tradition, jurisprudence, public opinion and the Constitution itself. And Corona could have saved himself all this trouble by simply declining the appointment now and waited for the new President. When swarmed by reporters asking him what his comments were with regards to those who refuse to recognize his appointment as Chief Justice, he simply smiled back while retreating to his office. You cannot help but feel sorry for him. He has not yet done anything as the new Chief Justice and yet he is already under so much flak

But all this is now moot for the Supreme Court had already decided and now Corona is the new Chief Justice.

Former Sen. Rene Saguisag and others see Corona as a “de facto chief justice.” Scandal-tarred President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo skipped more senior justices to hand her former chief of staff a quarter-of-midnight appointment.

“Enough is enough,” Chief Justice Renato Corona erupted and declared to thunderous applause from a packed audience during the annual convention of the Philippine Judges Association.

“Let not those who pervert democracy and the Constitution for their selfish political ends mistake our judicial decorum, wisdom of silence and sense of dignity as signs of weakness, for nothing can be farther from the truth.”

Shedding his usual soft-spoken character, Corona also slammed moves by the Palace and its majority allies in Congress to slash P2 billion from the judiciary’s budget for 2012 and put the amount in a special fund for vacant government posts.

Though Congress has already agreed to release funds for unfilled positions in the courts, the Chief Justice still reminded Malacañang and the lawmakers that the judiciary’s fiscal autonomy is enshrined in the Constitution.

“I mince no words and I speak of nothing else but the insidious attempts to undermine, destroy even, the independence of the judiciary through such means as forcing us to beg for the funds guaranteed to us by the Constitution,” he said.

He also added that there were also “repeated threats of impeachment, based on a distorted and power-tripping interpretation of breach of public trust… “Right is right. Wrong is wrong. In the Supreme Court, under my watch, right will always find a sanctuary and wrong will never find refuge,” declared Corona.

While the executive branch has the “power of the sword” and the legislature has the “power of the purse,” he said,  the judiciary—being a coequal branch of government—“will not hesitate to use the power of the pen to strike down what is illegal, unconstitutional and patently immoral.”

“Never before has the entire judiciary, even in the days of martial law, been subjected to so much disrespect and lack of civility from sectors we sincerely consider to be our partners in nation-building,” he said.

He vowed to defend the integrity and independence of the high court amid allegations of incompetence and corruption. “As long as I am the head of the judiciary, the third and coequal branch of government, I will perform the duty that the Almighty and the Constitution have entrusted to me, without fear and without vacillatio. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. In the Supreme Court, under my watch, right will always find a sanctuary and wrong will never find refuge.”

Reacting to the tirade, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda accused Corona of using the budget cuts for the judiciary to “sidestep” the Fasap controversy.

“The Supreme Court brought it upon themselves—if there is an attack on their credibility because of the Fasap case. We did not do anything here,” Lacierda said.Lacierda pointed out that Congress had already freed the judiciary’s allocation for salaries for unfilled posts from the President’s Mutual Personnel Benefit Fund. “I don’t know where this idea of being impeached is coming from. But certainly you do not hear that from the executive branch. Now, again, we have  democratic space,” Lacierda said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said Corona should “take the necessary measures to correct whatever bad perception and image problem, valid or not, that the court is suffering from right now.”

“The judiciary is not above the law and must be able to grin and bear criticisms thrown its way,” Senator Francis Pangilinan said. “If they can’t take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.”

On fiscal autonomy, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III pointed out the judiciary continued to enjoy this, but only after Congress, which has the power of the purse, had passed the budget.

“On the miscellaneous personnel benefits fund, we can have a logical and constitutional compromise after the national budget is passed,” he said.

What in God’s—or the devil’s—name is Renato Corona complaining about? He should be glad he’s still there—though that’s not beyond rectifying. I’m glad in this respect that several groups, including the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (Fasap) itself, are seriously contemplating filing impeachment charges against the justices.

The Corona Court, acting on a mere letter from lawyer Estelito Mendoza, recalled a decision reached with finality and no further pleadings shall be entertained. The same court had summarily dismissed pleadings from Harvard Law and Yale Law graduate, former Law school dean Jovito Salonga and from retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilarion Davide. I wonder what daunted Corona — Mendoza, the circumstance that it is Lucio Tan’s interests at issue, or both.

Following the recall of that decision, Corona warned, “Let not those who pervert democracy and the Constitution for their selfish political ends mistake our judicial decorum, wisdom of silence, and sense of dignity as signs of weakness, for nothing can be farther from the truth.” What judicial decorum, wisdom of silence, and sense of dignity is he talking about?

After clearing Justice del Castillo of plagiarism charges, the court issued a show-cause contempt order to UP Law Dean Marvic Leonen and 37 members of the faculty and gave them 10 days within which to explain why they should not be sanctioned for demanding the resignation of Del Castillo. But as then Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales said, the court’s show-cause order was “nothing but an abrasive flexing of the judicial muscle.” Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno also pointed out that “it is not the place of the Court to seek revenge against those who, in their wish to see reform in the judiciary, have the courage to say what is wrong with it. The Court finds its legitimacy in demonstrating its moral vein case after case, not in flaunting its judicial brawn.”

Corona’s belligerence doesn’t impress, it disgusts. It’s mind-bogglingly ill-timed. The last thing he should be doing now is fulminating, the first is apologizing. The last thing he should be  now is combative, the first is shamefaced. Corona hasn’t given justice its crowning glory, he has laid a corona, or wreath, at its feet. After “salvaging” it and tossing it to a shallow grave.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales said the court should have avoided issuing an interlocutory order such as a [TRO] to be issued by  a sole justice.He warned that the criticism against the tribunal as composed of “Arroyo appointees” would only grow louder if one of them intervened in the matter.“They should avoid, as much as possible, being branded as Arroyo appointees by their actions,” he said.

Supreme Court Administrator and spokesman Midas Marquez denied that the high court gave the Arroyos preferential treatment when it immediately raffled off the cases.

“The court treated [the petitions] as an urgent matter because there is a prayer for a TRO. So regardless of the personalities involved, if the court receives a petition with a prayer for TRO, that is automatically prioritized,” Marquez said. “If there’s really special treatment, then the court should have issued a decision.”

When the high court issued a TRO, the government should not have prevented the Arroyos from leaving even if the justice department files an appeal, Marquez said.

When asked what would have happened if the Arroyos refuse to return even after the tribunal rules De Lima’s order as constitutional, he said: “Then it’s up to the executive department to implement the decision of the court. “That’s how it is. That’s how the check and balance works between and among the three branches of the government.”

When told of the perception that the tribunal was an “Arroyo court,” Marquez said: “I think the court has already manifested its independence in a number of cases. So let’s not dwell on that anymore.”

At least two senators belonging to the Liberal Party on Thursday called on Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from all cases involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Public trust is critical to the strength of the SC as an institution of democracy,” Senator Franklin Drilon said. “We cannot afford a situation where the trust in the Court is eroded because of the perceptions of lack of impartiality. This is a very frightening situation where the people will not believe that the Court is impartial.”

In the bar of public opinion, it cannot be denied that his appointment as a Chief Justice would create the impression in the public mind that he is a favored justice of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,”  The senator said that as a member of the SC, Corona voted in favor of Arroyo’s policies “without fail.”

Drilon also believes that Corona’s perceived personal animosity toward President Aquino, who chose another justice instead of Corona to administer his oath as President last year, may affect his decision-making.  Aquino took his oath before another magistrate, Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, to underscore his opposition to Corona’s appointment. Capio-Morales is known as “the only magistrate who dissented against the high court’s March 17 ruling giving Arroyo the right to appoint the successor to Chief Justice Reynato Puno who retired last May 17.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan also called on Corona to inhibit himself from cases involving Arroyo. “This will help spare the SC from doubts that it is in favor of the former President,” he said

Commission on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. has said Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona should not inhibit himself from cases involving former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo.

“I don’t think he should. Why should he? If he inhibits merely because he is an appointee of Ms Arroyo, then all the justices appointed by her should also inhibit. But then, the appointees of President Aquino [who vowed to prosecute Arroyo] should also inhibit. So what will happen to the Supreme Court now? All the justices are connected in one way or another to somebody.”

“You have to give every justice the benefit of the doubt; that they will be very fair. This is also what they should think of me. If I feel that I should inhibit, it should be my own determination. In judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, the only reason why one should inhibit would be relations or relationship with any of the parties, Brillantes said.

Aquino’s adviser, Avelino “Nonong” Cruz, who was also Arroyo’s chief legal adviser until he fell out of grace when he disagreed with Arroyo’s attempts to change the Constitution for her to stay in power forever, told the president-in-waiting to void the Corona’s appointment just what Arroyo’s father , President Diosdado Macapagal, did to the midnight appointments of his predecessor, Carlos Garcia.

“I think that can be done and I think that’s what (Aquino) should do. That is the legal way to do it. Void midnight appointments through an executive order and then appoint a new chief justice,” Cruz said.

UP law professor and private prosecutor Harry Roque urges Aquino to appoint his choice of Supreme Court chief justice. “ (It is) a breach of mandate. The Presumptive President-Elect must keep his promise not to recognize the legitimacy of an Arroyo appointed Chief Justice for two reasons. First, he must honor the mandate of the sovereign people when they ratified the 1987 Constitution. Second, this has become a political issue already decided by the people when they gave the Presumptive President-Elect an overwhelming mandate. Judicial power cannot and should not be used to thwart popular will of the sovereign who only now, chose Noynoy Aquino as their true leader based on a promise not to recognize the legitimacy of an Arroyo midnight appointee.”

Corona accepted his midnight appointment. The mere fact that he toiled in the night to secure his midnight appointment should alone have voided his right to become chief justice. It betrays its spirit, it betrays its essence. Whatever his own justices say, which too must void their existence. Whatever body of text to justify it they might have unearthed like skeletons after they’ve raided law’s excavation sites. The business of the chief justice is to practice law in a supremely grand manner. It is not to secure power, and cling to it for dear life, in a supremely sniveling manner, like an Illegitimate President. Certainly it is not to show a capacity for behavior the English have called shameless, the Spanish sin verguenza, and the Filipinos walang hiya.

After he was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Corona said, “My heart is in the right place and its loyalty is to the Constitution alone. Only by the standard of this forthright sworn fidelity am I willing to be judged in the times to come.”

Civil society’s judgment came down immediately after Corona made that statement — that his loyalty to the Constitution is flimsy. His very acceptance of his appointment as Chief Justice manifested his cavalier regard for the Constitution. Days before his appointment, various groups including several Integrated Bar of the Philippines chapters, law school organizations, association of deans of Law schools called on the aspirants to the position of Chief Justice to forego their personal ambition by refusing the appointment.

He continued to trifle with the Constitution when he swayed the Court to uphold the act of Congress to break up the 1st District of Camarines Sur into two to allow both the politically influential Rolando Andaya and presidential son Dato Arroyo to be in Congress. Now the district, formerly represented in Congress by one congressman, is represented by two whereas the two larger districts are represented by only one each, in contravention of the constitutional provision that representative districts shall be apportioned in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio.

Corona also said after being sworn in, “Undaunted by man or circumstance, and unswayed by praise or criticism, in me right will find a sanctuary and wrong will find no refuge.” But the academic world practically accused Corona and 11 other members of the Supreme Court of intellectual dishonesty and thievery of intellectual property after clearing Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo of plagiarism charges. The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, an association of 1,290 Catholic schools, colleges, and universities, said the Supreme Court’s decision “abets a culture of intellectual sloth and dishonesty. For plagiarism is not only a legal issue but more importantly, a moral one.”

It is appaling what the Court he presides over has done to the flight attendants, which is to oppress them several times over after they had gone to it for redress, and after they had waited for 13 years, growing tired, growing bitter, growing furious, that is the most unkindest cut of all. That the Court he presides over has made of finality a never-ending story, that “salvages” justice completely and buries it in a shallow grave.

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