Karma strikes again

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JOJO ROBLES

IT was one of the most scandalous travesties of justice committed by the Aquino administration. And now, the Supreme Court is once again attempting to amend it, hopefully for good.

On November 15, 2011, at past 10 p.m., former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived at Terminal 1 of Manila’s international airport from St. Luke’s hospital in Taguig with the intention of taking the day’s last flight to Singapore. But agents of the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Transportation prevented her, her husband Jose Miguel and their small party from leaving; they had no choice but to turn back after being denied boarding.

Earlier that day, Arroyo had secured a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court stopping President Noynoy Aquino’s DoJ attack dog Secretary Leila de Lima from preventing her from leaving on the strength of a hold departure order issued by De Lima. But De Lima, in a press conference in Malacañang, said she used as basis for ignoring the high court TRO a DoJ circular (Number 41) allowing a justice secretary to stop persons being investigated by the department from traveling abroad; besides, she said, she could not honor the TRO until she actually received it.

And this is where the skullduggery was perpetrated: When employees of the office of Supreme Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez went to De Lima’s office (which is just really a tomato’s throw from the high court) there was no one there to receive the high court’s TRO for the secretary. It was only 4 p.m.


Arroyo, of course, would remain in hospital detention for the next five years. And all the cases filed against her—which were only meant to keep her detained while Aquino played at being president—have since been dismissed under the infinitely less vindictive Duterte administration.

(Anyone who wants to argue that Duterte is as vindictive as Noynoy is welcome to prove that assertion, of course. Aquino should really be in jail by now, given the terrible crimes directly imputed to him, like the Mamasapano massacre, the bribery of Congress through DAP to remove Chief Justice Renato Corona and the injection of hundreds of thousands of children under a suspicious vaccination program that he took an inordinate interest in near the end of his term, to name just three.

But going back to De Lima’s case, the Supreme Court in an en banc session yesterday nullified the circular the former secretary used as a legal basis to detain Arroyo. The circular, by the way, was only released on June 7, 2010, when Aquino had already won; it was obviously intended to be weaponized against the people Noynoy wanted to take down, chief of whom, of course, was Arroyo.

The current Carpio court, according to reports, expressed concern about the effect of the circular on individuals who are issued HDOs without being given the chance to defend themselves. De Lima, as justice secretary, had argued before the court that issuing such orders was part of the “inherent power of the state,” which many understood to mean under the previous administration as a truncheon to be used liberally on the people Noynoy wanted persecuted.

Of course, some benighted Yellows still peddle the lie that Aquino was the best thing to happen to human rights in this country. It is a tribute to the power of the Aquino propaganda machinery that Arroyo’s case, which a United Nations body ruled was a human rights violation, has long been depicted as justice served—on absolutely no legal basis whatsoever.

And so, one of the most egregious injustices committed by the Aquino administration has once again been remedied by the Supreme Court, which understandably could not act on De Lima’s blatant abuse of authority in the Arroyo TRO case because it already saw the storm clouds in the horizon. After all, at the time the high court issued its order staying the power-mad De Lima, Corona had already been impeached by the House; in a couple of months, the chief justice would be ousted in an even bigger legal travesty and the cowing of the judiciary by Noynoy would have been completed.

But things really have a way of turning out right. For instance, De Lima is now in jail on non-bailable drug charges.

Noynoy is still at home, protected – or so he thinks – by taxpayer-bought steel gates. But maybe that will change, too.

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Who smiles for a picture at a Holocaust memorial, anyway? Well, self-confessed Philippine human rights advocates, that’s who.

I note with appreciation Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo’s taking full responsibility for the flap over the weekend over her and a group of her confederates’ mugging for the camera in Berlin. Maybe Leni’s group was just so happy to be abroad on a junket fully paid for by one of those eternally nosy German foundations – not, as Robredo insists, by any government funds.

I think Robredo should get a pass on this one, really. She was just clueless and insensitive, which is par for the course for her; she’s done worse and said more stupid stuff before.

But I have a bone to pick with Rep. Teddy Baguilat, who was with the Holocaust Smilers and even had the gall to say that since they were human rights advocates, they wouldn’t dream of disrespecting the monument. Of course, it was Baguilat who posted the offending photo on social media.

And please, the Yellows should stop spinning the snafu by saying that the monument’s rules do not prohibit the taking of photographs or by dragging President Rodrigo Duterte into the matter when he compared the number of Jews killed by Hitler to the drug addicts he intends to exterminate.

It’s still about your being fake human rights advocates, exposed at the first visit to a Holocaust memorial. And human rights advocates do not take inappropriate photos in such places – nor has Duterte ever claimed to be part of your human rights gang.

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