The kettles are calling the Binays black.
With the violent confrontation between supporters of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and the officials and police enforcing the Ombudsman’s new suspension order against him, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima lambasted the Binay family for “fomenting lawlessness and chaos,” admonishing “… mayors should not act like petty kings who can disregard the law with impunity.”
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, presumed presidential election rival of Junjun’s father, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, chimed in: “No one is above the law, thus any person who shall unjustly impede the valid and lawful exercise of government function shall be dealt with in accordance with the rule of law.”
Malacañang joined the chorus. Presidential Communciations Chief Herminio Coloma told Palace media: “It is important to follow the rule of law. All elected and proclaimed government officials took an oath to follow legal directives.”
This writer agrees that all legal statutes and directives should be followed and enforced without fear or favor. And when they are selectively implemented, then the rule of law is perverted into the exploitation of law for partisan, self-serving motives. It becomes the misrule of law.
Exploiting law for political warfare
That, sadly, has been the story of the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd from day one. His first Executive Order, issued on his first day in office, created the Philippine Truth Commission targeting the past government. That prompted the Supreme Court to strike it down for violating the Constitution’s tenet of equal protection before the law.
Starting with shooting buddy and former Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, accused in July 2010 by no less than Archbishop Oscar Cruz of receiving jueteng payoffs, Aquino has spared his Kaklase, Kakampi, Kabarilan clique of associates from the full force of anti-graft statutes.
Aquino has also meddled in court cases for allies and against opponents, and defied or disputed Supreme Court rulings. Among his acts of defiance is the blatant disobedience of the High Court restraining order lifting Secretary de Lima’s travel ban on the former First Couple.
Even more egregious, Aquino usurped the budgeting power of Congress through his illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and let then suspended National Police Chief Alan Purisima handle the bloody Mamasapano commando operation.
Predictably, Aquino’s alter egos have taken the cue from such flaunting of legislation, with Secretary de Lima refusing to charge administration lawmakers for pork barrel anomalies, after rushing cases against opposition senators. Plus: her and Roxas’s open defiance of a Court of Appeals restraining order when they first tried to enforce a suspension order against Mayor Binay in March.
So when Palace and Cabinet officials issue protestations over the rule of law, it is utterly hypocritical and, frankly, sickening. It also smacks of the same partisan legalism used by dictator Ferdinand Marcos against his opponents, including Aquino’s father Ninoy.
Both Marcos and Aquino mobilized the entire machinery of government and legislation against their perceived enemies, while shielding themselves and their cronies. This misrule of law in pursuit of self-serving ends — including their continued dominance to escape accountability for abuses and anomalies — must be stopped.
Plainly, if the Aquino camp succeeds in decimating rivals and winning another six years of power, then their brand of partisan governance will with even greater gusto and vehemence.
And if it succeeds in taking down the No. 2 official in the land (plus the fifth-highest, impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona), the Aquino regime would be even more emboldened in exploiting power and law for political warfare.
More misrule if LP wins
The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Anti-Money Laundering Council would continue targeting administration opponents, while never touching Liberal Party (LP) bigwigs. The Supreme Court recently ordered the AMLC to explain its probe of Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of three opposition stalwarts facing pork barrel charges, which repeats the council’s actions during the Corona impeachment.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, whose predecessor was ousted for allegedly protecting Arroyo, would herself still pull punches against Aquino allies, while unleashing blows and kicks at adversaries. After quickly charging Estrada and fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla, Morales is not pressing de Lima on cases against LP and allied legislators.
Also spared by her are Transportation Secretary Jose Emilio Abaya and three DOTC undersecretaries. None are suspended despite Morales’s order last September to investigate them over the dubious Metro Rail Transit maintenance deal.
Paid $1.15 million a month, the no-bidding contractor created the commuter railway’s dismal state, burdening and endangering millions of commuters daily. The MRT is spending billions of pesos on new maintenance contracts to fix the mess.
And nothing else has been heard about the Supreme Court’s instruction for Morales to investigate and charge officials behind the P150-billion DAP. Principally liable for the malversation-ridden scheme are Budget Secretary Abad and President Aquino himself. They face a minimum of six months jail for each of the estimated 1,400 documents they signed releasing funds in contravention of budget laws. No wonder they want the LP to remain in power.
Tough choice for Filipinos
Now here’s the hard choice for the nation. Is it better to bring down one accused grafter, especially a leading aspirant for the presidency, even if it gives the administration a clear path to six more years of abuse?
Ponder a similar question: If we could end the Marcos dictatorship by supporting one of his top ministers, who himself committed many excesses, should we back the loyalist-turned-rebel leader?
That’s what we did with Enrile. And unless another strong challenger to the LP juggernaut emerges, backing Binay — but keeping close watch on him — may be the only way to end Aquino’s misrule of law.