Here’s an object lesson on the inherent anomaly of dynastic politics. Political relatives can differ in their policy views and even values. The lower-ranked do not necessarily defer to the higher-ranked.
This situation has arisen in the case of the first cousins, President Benigno BS. Aquino 3rd and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, as they separately expressed their views on the case of Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, while she battles for her political life.
Strangely, each invoked logic as the basis for their stand. And yet, it turns out that they stand on diametrically opposite sides, one propping up Ms. Poe, the other writing her off.
Bam says Poe natural-born Filipino
In his 3-page concurring and separate opinion on the Grace Poe disqualification case before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), Senator Aquino wrote with faux legality:
“Foundlings are among the most vulnerable to statelessness and discrimination. Social justice dictates that the State should be the first to recognize and ensure that foundlings are able to enjoy each and every right accorded to them.
“Therefore, there lies a presumption that for those who have less in life, we should afford them the most basic right.
“Logic dictates that foundlings are not naturalized nor stateless but natural born citizens of the Philippines…. With the respondent currently unable to submit the results of the DNA tests to prove that she is indeed a natural born citizen, the presumption of regularity and the presumption of the utmost best for those who have least in life should be upheld and maintained.”
I know of no doctrine in jurisprudence that says those who have less in life should have more in law. This was strictly a sound bite of President Ramon Magsaysay.
The real and correct doctrine is the equal protection clause that all are equal before the law.
President sees logic in Poe’s disqualification
Speaking in Rome, the citadel of empire and religion, President Benigno Aquino 3rd declared that he sees the “logic” in the ruling of a Commission on Elections (Comelec) division canceling the certificate of candidacy (COC) for president of Senator Poe.
He stopped short of writing a formal opinion. He issued his remarks off the cuff. He said:
“Hindi ako SET (Senate Electoral Tribunal), hindi ako Comelec, pareho silang independent bodies. Hindi rin ako Supreme Court. Pero parang nakikita ko ‘yung logic nung sinasabi rito. Pero, again, marami pang avenue si Senator Grace na pwedeng pasukan all the way to the Supreme Court to have clarity in all of this,” he said.
Aquino added that he was not aware of Poe’s repeated use of her US passport when he courted her to become the running mate of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Mar Roxas.
“At the time that we discussed this, it wasn’t as detailed as what is presented here. For instance, ‘yung mga trips ‘nung ‘09, I don’t think we discussed that. She kept telling me that she had a panel of lawyers who had studied the matter and they were ready to answer any and all questions and I took it at face value,” Aquino said.
Aquino has asked Justice Secretary Alfred Benjamin Caguioa, Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa, and other lawyers to brief him about the case.
First Benigno Aquino was a logical collaborator
I did not realize until now that the Aquinos as a family are fond of logic.
I wondered if the same affinity for logic was true of the first Benigno S. Aquino: former speaker of the Philippine National Assembly and agriculture secretary (under Quezon), and director- general of the Kalibapi during the Japanese occupation of this country.
Did Benigno I find it logical for him and other Filipinos to take the side of the Japanese imperial forces after their conquest and occupation of the Philippines.
I checked my copy of A. V. H. Hartendorf ‘s authoritative history: The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, (Bookmark, Manila, 1967), to see whether he might have some choice passages on Benigno I, and on why he took the side of the Japanese against the Americans and his fellow Filipinos.
There is an embarrassment of riches in the quotes from Aquino’s statements and speeches in Hartendorf’s book.
Early in the war, Benigno I declared: “The entire Filipino people are ready to fight side by side with Japan because of her solemn pledge of independence in the worst possible time. A passive people is a cowardly people. A cowardly people cannot build a nation. Liberty is not a prize for cowards, it is only for the brave.”
Explaining the Japanese program for the new Philippines and Kalibapi, he said: “Our duty is to tell you the truth and to be frank. …if you want to know the real spirit of Kalibapi and to understand the real new Philippines, you only have to see your sons in the uniform of the Constabulary.”
The word Kalibapi stood for Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas ( Association for Service to the New Philippines). Benigno I served as vice-president and director-general of Kalibapi.
Aquino said Kalibapi was “a non-political association” and that no “person can be employed in the government and any of its institutions unless he is a member.”
Aquino took to task all the fence-sitters who did not readily march to the beat of the Japanese drum.
He characterized the Filipino guerillas who fought the Japanese as “more American than the Americans themselves in the defense of American sovereignty.”
Together with President Jose P. Laurel, Aquino spread the propaganda that America could not come back and urged cooperation with the Japanese. They said:
“We are ready to be traitors to America if by so doing we will be of service to the Filipino people. That is not oratory. That is determination.”
Aquino led a Filipino gratitude mission to Japan in 1943. In Japan, Aquino declared in a speech that the Anglo-Americans were suffering from spiritual anemia, that their military operations were “impossible enterprises” and that they could not win the war.
Within a year, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his anemic forces were in the Philippines, liberating the entire country and breaking the back of the Japanese war machine.
When liberation came in October 1944 and the Japanese were defeated and vanquished, Benigno I was arrested in Tokyo and sent back to Manila to stand trial for collaboration with the Japanese. He was jailed with other collaborators in the new Bilibid Prisons.
He was released on bail while awaiting trial. While watching a boxing match at the Rizal memorial Stadium, he suffered a heart attack and died in 1948.
Benigno II, “Ninoy” Aquino, lived an equally turbulent life. His politics led him logically and fatefully into dangerous and treacherous alliances. He was assassinated on August 21, 1983 on his return to Manila from US exile.