Goodbye Raul Ilustre Goco. I first met him in Dallas in the summer of 1967. We met some well-scrubbed All-American Yellow Roses of Texas – ain’t they purty! One of them howled when wife Marietta came. “Raowuuuul, I didn’t know you were married!!” Raul and Marietta (Tita) had traveled partly because they wanted to get over the poignant loss of a child who had drowned in the family swimming pool, if my memory is true.
With us in Southern Methodist U seminar that long cool summer (dry, not humid at all) was General Rene Ecarma, Judge Larry Jarencio and Efrain Treñas, and the latter’s missus, who, like Marietta seemed to believe in tight Jawo-man-to-man guarding. I had not been spoken for so Mrs. Trenas encouraged me to woo the daughter of the City Attorney, to improve our race (“mezclar,” she said). But, I have always been shy and torpe, which comes to mind cuz we have a bachelor Prez. So unlike his reported Kamandag Pop, who his Bedan classmates would tell me, was muy pillo con las mujeres. Urban legend? No wonder, Ninoy and Joker hit it famously.
Anyway, contrary to the obsession of PNoy’s ill-wishers, I don’t see him spending a single day in jail because while he may have committed mistakes of the mind—we all do—it is not of the heart. We do not criminalize policy differences when not a single singkong duling lined anyone’s private pocket.
I am incredulous that tough ranking Department of Justice prosecutor Dong Fadullon’s and Usec Toti Baraan’s pockets had allegedly been so lined in the Ampatuan case. I find the accounts in their defense convincing. The truth shall set them free, but welcome to public life. I am still looking for the manses I supposedly accumulated in my Senate stint.
What I find less convincing is the seeming loss of moral stamina in going after the Marcoses, in the malevolent obsession to go after PNoy, Butch Abad, Dong and Toti. Illegitimi non carborundum! Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
The thieving Marcoses were ordered to return billions of ill-gotten wealth on July 15, 2003 by the Supreme Court—SC (Republic v. Sandiganbayan, Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Imee Marcos, Ferdinand, Jr.). Done. So we have money for the human rights victims, among other purposes. Are the Marcoses in jail? Not even being probed, which the SC quaintly did not order, unlike in other cases. One ill-gottener is in the Senate, another in the House (Imelda was once convicted by a Division in the PGH case but exonerated en banc) and another in a Guv’s manse. Weird. Have we seen their SALNs? I recall that once, Rep. Imelda had a negative net worth! Ha, ha, ha. Comic page stuff, as is the case with many filings.
On SALN’s, we need to see the filings of anybody, not only of the Prez, the Veep, the Cabinet and the Senators. The press reported that students of mine, among others, had been furnished SALNs of the Justices. But, why even calendar the request in a full-court session with all the SC has to do? It has better things to do, like understanding limitations. And we need to see movements in fortunes and detect possible conflicts of interests.
I have just read again the edifying July 10, 1986 Con-Com debates on Grave Abuse of Discretion (GAD), beginning at page 484. Our Supreme Court is the most powerful, and therefore, the Most Dangerous Branch, because it has managed to interpret itself to be far more powerful than the US model. There, the SC may rule what anyone has done as illegal or unconstitutional (beginning with Marbury v. Madison in 1803 – which we studied in extenso in Harvard Law in 1967); however, I doubt that it has ever said Mr. Prez or Congress, “you have abused you discretion, and gravely at that.” I would just want our SC again on the same level as that of the US paradigm. Co-equal, and agreeing with Malcolm, “to doubt is to sustain,”
Chief Justice (CJ) Concepcion, as a ConCom Commissioner simply wanted no repeat of the abuses of martial law when Macoy was super-exec, super-court, super-legislature and a one-man continuing constitutional convention. We all need to read the record of the July 10, 1986 session of the ConCom for enlightenment and edification. But, I understand the unelected SC’s expansionary appetite; it was not the intent though of the 1986 Original Understanding, from where I sit.
Admittedly, or arguably, PD No. 1949 creating the Judiciary Development Fund was a good one and I’d simply like it amended but only to increase the Fund, given the fine intent to improve personnel benefits and infrastructure, where collected. The House has the power of the purse and the Supreme Court is not autonomous from the people, who the House represents. Sec. 3 of it was arguably meant by Macoy to control the CJ so responsibility should be defused, maybe the top three senior Justices plus a House rep. Far more democratic and harder to manipulate. Today, the SC and the Commission on Audit fail in their legal duty to provide ALL executive judges of JDF quarterly reports. Scofflaws, they are. And one who spoke for the SC even said P.D. No. 1949 is an irrepealable law! For crying out loud!
But, I like the cross-border practice of wealthy government units aiding local courts, via allowances, vehicles and other perks. Blending of power is a desideratum in the context of giving our people better service and a better life. Not always making sabong.
Amending the Consti may be overdue but on term limits, no clause should be effective during Pnoy’s term. I want him to retire in 2016, to plant a tree, write a book and father a child.
Knowing when to leave is as important as knowing when to arrive. And we should leave the stage when the audience is still applauding. And there’s a lot to applaud PNoy for, I believe.
New SC Justice Francis Jardeleza, if my memory is true, I met in the wake last April of Lex Carao, my partner, who used to head ACCRA Law’s litigation department. Francis was not my fave nominee but since he was picked constitutionally, we congratulate and wish him well. Meilou Sereno was not my pick as CJ either but I support her as her elevation was in accord with the institutional arrangement.
Do we now have 15 scorpions in a bottle? Creative tension in the broad public interest, not narrow personal pique, is not unhelpful.