NO, it’s not a place in China or Germany. It’s a peculiar position in chess, in which a player can move only with loss or severe disadvantage.
When President Aquino authored and authorized the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), he sent the Philippine Constitution into exile. Now that the Supreme Court has rescued the charter from exile, the President seems determined to block it from our public life.
Aquino’s stand on the DAP and his subsequent attacks on the Supreme Court have baffled everyone, even his own allies and supporters. Only Butch Abad has kept yakking to voice his support, because he is counting on Aquino’s childish obstinacy to keep him from being hauled in chains right away.
If the C student from the Ateneo, who lucked himself into the Presidency, plays or understands the game of chess, Aquino should realize that he is now in the chess position called Zugzwang (a word of German origin). It’s so bad it can drive you nuts.
Really serious analysts, not the impostors who produced the faux escape via the administrative code, say that Aquino has boxed himself into an indefensible position with respect to the DAP. He and his administration broke many laws and the Constitution in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when they fabricated and implemented the DAP.
So much still in the treasury, so little time
Now, they greedily aspire to do the same this year and next year, by forcing the Supreme Court to change its decision in the President’s favor. They covet the money still in the treasury, and worry that they have little time left to steal it.
The President has compounded his offenses by attacking the Supreme Court for its forthright decision that declared key parts of the DAP as illegal and unconstitutional.
More alarmingly, he has threatened the High Court by virtually saying that the
Legislature, which is subservient to him, could team up with the Executive in fighting the judicial branch, if it does not reverse its DAP ruling via his appeal. He has mobilized the House, the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to help pressure and persuade the SC.
He faces a big problem though. No hand (as in a game of cards) can be weaker than the one that Aquino is playing.
By the light of the Constitution and existing statutes, the DAP and its implementors have violated the law several times over.
By taking a stand that says he is above the law, Aquino indicts himself and his accomplices.
Aquino’s win-at-every-cost nature
Aquino repeated his tirade against the Supreme Court at a function attended by the World Bank president and UN staff based in the country, He underscored his theme that the ruling against the DAP would paralyze the economy.
Given his obsessive and win-at-every-cost nature, he will barnstorm the capital and burn the phonelines to make his argument before any group and anyone who can hear. He will lie, he will cheat, he will twist arms to get his way.
This was the berserk track he followed when he set out back in 2010 to remove former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Many corporate executives and their wives were shocked to find themselves being chased all over town by Aquino’s obsession. Anyplace they went to, there was PNoy railing against the CJ.
If his crusade vs. the High Court is now on, he better brace himself to receive in kind. The Supreme Court is the most popular branch of government today. There are 14 sitting justices on the bench. The Left, the churches, the media and the public have all aligned against the DAP and its authors. A number of senators have come out to criticize Aquino’s assault on the SC. The military could also find its voice.
Aquino’s appeal to his loyalists to wear his yellow pin will persuade no one. A counter-campaign will find more groupies.
Senator Teofisto Guingona has gone AWOL in shame over his much-scorned yellow ribbon committee.
Joker Arroyo’s blast that Aquino’s presidency has become an autocracy controlling all three branches of the government is jet fuel for the impeach-Aquino, bury-DAP campaign.
Only the most shameless members of the House and the Commission on Audit have decided to dance to Aquino’s tune. COA officials are worried sick that they will be forced to return their loot from the DAP. They would be better off if they remember more often that they are a constitutional body.
Individually, the congressmen worry that they will have to return the P10-million bribes they got for the Corona impeachment. JV Ejercito’s decision to return his bribe money has put them all in the firing line.
The argument about President Cory and her administrative code saving Aquino and the DAP is a delusion.
But Aquino is obsessive and desperate. He will use the power of the sword, thinking it’s Excalibur. He may try to impeach some or all of the justices. Government agencies are probably already digging for dirt to hurl at the justices. He will move for the repeal by Congress of the Judiciary Development Fund.
All to no avail. Because the SC does not have to do anything to prevail in this test of wills.
High Court’s armor of integrity
The Supreme Court’s best policy is to take the high road, not the low road like the President.
Its strongest shield is its dignity and armor of integrity, which has tremendous credibility with the people.
Aquino’s phony “incorruptibility” is jelly when set side by side with the mystique of the High Court, which goes back many generations.
My wife remembers how in high school civics class they were taught that “the law is the law,” “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” and that “the Supreme Court is the voice of the Constitution.” That’s a lot of tradition for Aquino to fight against. Even Goliath can’t prevail over that.
The justices close ranks for 14-0
As a result of Aquino’s tirade (meltdown?), according to a Manila Times report, all justices of the SC are closing ranks behind their institution. There’s no distinction anymore between Aquino appointees and Arroyo appointees among the magistrates. They all care about the court.
They have collectively decided to uphold the rule of law, and will treat Aquino’s appeal in that spirit.
I think the SC has one more hammer blow to make the president come to his senses.
The court can improve on its original vote on the DAP, which was 13-0.
In the appeal deliberations, Justice Teresita de Castro, who abstained from the original voting, should be urged to take part this time.
During the voting on Aquino’s appeal, the vote ought to be 14-0, affirming the original ruling.
That would send a ringing message to Aquino. And it would be fitting retribution for challenging the Supreme Court in the interpretation of the Constitution and the law, and for threatening the court.
Once the court renders its verdict, everyone, including the President, must obey.
Berserk presidency will end
If Aquino defies the Court, he can be forcibly removed from office. There will be no need to impeach him anymore. The people, not the temporary commander-in-chief, can summon the troops.
If he chooses this ending to his Presidency, Aquino will sink into the same shabby ditch as the Philippine National Railways director, who back in the ‘60s insisted on hanging on to his post, and had to be carried out bodily—tied to his chair— by the police.
The prospect of seeing Aquino depart in this way from Malacañang could revive the spirit of our despondent nation, because we can laugh again.