CONDOLENCES to the families of Nap Rama, 92, Ninoy Aquino’s cellmate, who fought Marcos, and Fortune Balasbas, No. 7 in the 1986 bar exams, and an exemplary Senate staffer of mine. And the Supreme Court (SC) has just deep-sixed our EDCA position, which may soon be cremated.
I, with others, had asked the SC, that the people, via the Senate, not be ignored. I have been called insane. I have long known that my head is not properly and tightly screwed on. But, what I had wanted was for the Constitution to be followed, as I understood it; as it turned out only four Justices were insane, along with the Senators who had communicated to the SC that EDCA should have its concurrence. PNoy probably had the votes anyway.
When Obama came and I attended the dinner in his honor in Malacañang in April 2014, I very politely asked some contacts there for a copy of the agreement signed that morning. They said they had not seen it either. Only days later was I given an unofficial copy of a deal which may affect the fate of my apos, oldest 7, who loves to play soldier. Thanks, or no thanks, to PNoy and Volts Gazmin, who ignored the Senate.
In 1991, when we were asked to act on the extension of the bases agreement, we had been given a copy in advance of what we were to vote on, weeks before the Sept. 16, 1991 voting, when we decided to end the presence of foreign troops after hundreds of years. Foreign Affairs Sec. Raul Manglapus had briefed us as a government co-worker. A public debate followed. Why the secrecy this time? Why the key role of the Defense Sec with a military mindset? I would have preferred the DFA Sec.
In 1941, we were one huge US military base but America was Pearl Harbored into submission and mighty Uncle Sam could not defend us. Japan is now our ally against China, our WWII ally who saved Col. Doolittle’s remnants after that daring raid in Tokyo in April 1942. Alliances shift. No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. (Lord Palmerston.) The US brutalized us when first they came. But, there was no TV evening news to report nightly, say on the Balangiga or Mt. Bud Dajo Massacres.
I remain of the view that the EDCA requires concurrence by the Senate, the proper democratic constitutional institutional arrangement. Not only the Prez and Gazmin should be involved, but also the people, thru their elected senators. If in a decade or so, my said apo is in the frontline, it should be by some majoritarian process, not only cuz of the Aquino-Gazmin pact. There should have been public hearings, the procedure we adopted in 1991. Here, EDCA was inflicted allegedly on the morning of Prez Obama’s arrival. And I did not get a copy (unofficial) until days later, in a TV talk show.
The Americans shouldn’t use our existing facilities. They could build their own bases, maybe in the disputed sea areas. In the hearings, we could also have mentioned the helplessness of the US in the U.S.S. Pueblo incident in 1968 or the axing to death of Lt. Bonifas in 1976. If attacked today, we fight and others will help in the perception of their own contemporary national interests, not because of some paper.
Vietnam has no EDCA-type of agreement with the US. But, it has PUSO, and defeated the French and Americans and even the Chinese, with whom it had a bloody border war in 1979. Thousands were killed, far many more than the Mamasapano 44, and the wailing and blame game here have yet to stop; on this PNoy has to answer only to his conscience and to history, not JPE, who we now know, is for EDCA! He needs to review his inspiring Explanation for his No vote in 1991. He then said: “I cannot believe that the vitality of this country will be extinguished when the last bargirl in Olongapo turns off the last light in the last cabaret.”
The EDCA voting announced last Tuesday came as no surprise. I had been reading about it here, where our enterprising Jomar Canlas – who I congratulate – is the virtual 16th Justice. Hindi na naman lumabas na bulaang propeta. We’ll need to plug the leaks in the SC, to encourage freer debate and devil advocate’s type of questioning. The SC has been inutile in dealing with leaks. Sino po ang makwentong Justice(s)?
For some weeks now, Jomar, reported that the administration had won. However, three Justices, Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo de Castro and Marvic Leonen would dissent. As it happened, Estela Perlas-Bernabe joined the dissenters.
Left to me, I will move to reconsider. We should have a government of, by and for the people, not of Aquino and Gazmin alone. My Motion for Recon would be a deposition for history, in hopes that other Justices may become as insane as the Four Dissenters, me, and the senators led by Miriam. One man in the right may be a majority. No need to insult us. La cortesia no quita la valentia. Courtesy does not detract from valor. Amid the Philippine Sea confrontation, we had this tempest in a teapot in the Comelec. Squabbling is not what the Comelec is paid to do.
Dean Andy Bautista says he wasn’t informed beforehand by the Commissioners who would go to the Supreme Court. The minutes should show if a meeting and discussion took place and how each voted. There has to be a paper trail. But, the Chair, qua Chair, deserves some respect, and should not be the last one to know. I know Commissioner Rowena Guanzon is talented and gutsy but the institution is above anyone of the seven. Rowena and equally talented and gutsy Arthur Lim should have told the Chair and the other members what they had intended to do, if Andy is being truthful here in saying he was the pindeho, the last one to know. Pathetic.
The seven cannot be like different ships passing one another on a dark moonless night. The Comelec should not be a Circular Firing Squad, either. When not shooting one another, it may be shooting the public. It seems to be one in asking for receipts for political donations, which I made sure in late 1991, in the bicam-eral conference committee, would not be taxable, as investments in a democracy. R.A. No. 7166, Sec. 13.
The candidate must personally receive and “receipt” the donations, per the Comelec today. In 1987, Tony Gonzalez of Mondragon gave seed money of a million, which I didn’t need or use, and returned it after the polls. And I had donors all over the land, many, unknown to me. One plastered Sultan Kudarat with my posters, unknown to me, and the donor, Joe Lago or Lagon, never asked for anything. Others bought local newspaper space or radio slots, unknown to me. Others made streamers, decals, whatever, without telling me. All projected: Adopt Rene, or Ampunin si Saguisag. A winning line. Kin, friends, classmates, the human rights community, strangers, et al. supported me. Even certain KBL figures.
How would the Comelec have handled Chino Roces’ Piso-Piso kay Cory campaign?
The new Comelec directive would prove administratively unmanageable. It has better things to do than uniting to oppress us.
Andy, Rowena and Arthur kissed and made up. Good. But, any Chair is always primus inter pares, even if he has also only one vote. He deserves every courtesy. All the Commissioners do. All of us do, including me, a life’s loser. Now, EDCA, and I am being called all sorts of names and told what is thought of me and my ancestors. Can my sainted mother be kept out of this colloquy?