(Almost) everything new is old again

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IN polite society, you don’t give your opinion unless you had been asked to say something about anything that was on the table.

You would probably be branded as a show-off know-it-all if you did without so much as a slight poking from the gallery.

We guess that in legal circles, decorum expected of lawyers transcends politeness but it would still be the height of chutzpah if a practitioner of the law went out of his way without being asked by the courts to say his piece on something over which he had not been ordered to respond.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, in recently arguing that alleged pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim-Napoles had been wrongfully convicted for illegally detaining her second cousin and scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, seemed to have ignored protocol, leaving Malacañang to deal with the flak that came off the government’s chief lawyer’s perceived lawyering for Napoles.

The Palace immediately defending Calida from the brouhaha of his own making betrays Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella who said during a news briefing that the Solicitor General was “not lawyering for Napoles, I think. He’s just simply trying to correct what he thinks, what he sees, what he perceives is something that needs to be rectified.”

No, Calida was not sent by anyone, according to Abella, and certainly not by President Rodrigo Duterte, whom he painted as one who “trusts his alter ego’s decision.”

The government’s No. 1 lawyer could have decided correctly on his mission of “rectification” of the “injustice” to which the alleged pork barrel racket diva had been subjected.

After all, he scored 100 percent in Criminal Law when he took and passed the Bar in the 1970s, and so he probably could tell which person is the criminal if he ever saw one even from a mile.

The once obscure Senator Alan Peter Cayetano apparently has been fielded by Malacañang to parry the low ball thrown by Calida, not least at the Supreme Court.

According to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the high court had ruled that Luy was “actually deprived of liberty” during his detention on Napoles’ orders, contrary to what Calida said that the snitch was
free to move about at a safehouse where he was held against his will under the protection of a religious group.

Cayetano said he wants an “explanation” from Calida on his inexplicable take on the Napoles case but the senator sounded like he was not really expecting the Solicitor General to come clean.

For now, Cayetano could only “guarantee that the President will not allow any corruption to happen during [his]administration” and that “he will not absolve those who were corrupt in past administrations.”

Talk is that the alleged queen of all scams now detained at the Women’s Correctional over the illegal-detention charges, would eventually be freed, if we get the senator’s drift, and installed as state witness after finding her the “least guilty” among former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada and others accused of plunder over the multibillion-peso pork barrel racket.

The businesswoman Napoles is probably the only person who can name with her eyes closed the biggest plunderers in the immediate past administration or at least those who made a pile from the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, that she channelled to bogus non-government organizations after bribing the accused plunderers.

The Duterte administration needs a “heroine” to do its own battles where at present it is suffering an embarrassing beating despite promises and more promises of a clean government.

The buck, after all, stops at Malacañang and Calida should not pull our leg that the Palace has nothing to do with what he “thinks, sees and perceives.”

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