ACTUALLY it’s a Biblical wisdom, the admonition against the last straw being heaped upon a camel that is fully loaded. Though it is in the nature of the beast to carry heavy loads, all it takes really to break its back is one more tiny straw added to its maximum burden.
It has come to pass that in every test of endurance in any field whatsoever, the notion of the last straw is the ultimate limit that is not to be reached otherwise endurance breaks.
Current developments in the presidential race indicate the Philippine democratic camel is on the throes of getting its back broken. Grace Llamanzares, nee Poe, has been disqualified by the Comelec. Only an appeal at the Supreme Court can save the day for her, but judging from the result of her disqualification case at the Senate Electoral Tribunal, which she won thanks to her fellow senators but in which all members from the Supreme Court voted against her, once the Comelec ruling is raised to the High Tribunal, it will be upheld.
In that event, what remains is a field in which the Liberal Party bet, Manuel Roxas 2nd, will only have to contend with Vice President Jejomar C. Binay. The other two presidential aspirants, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, are even now considered goners.
After Grace, therefore, the expected ploy is for Vice President Binay to be edged out of the race and by that assure a Roxas win. That this eventuality is not far-fetched has already been manifested by the recent declaration by former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada that he would run for President should Vice President Binay be disqualified. This Erap scenario is truly lamentable, but let’s leave this for later.
Of urgent concern is the scenario of a Binay disqualification due to being indicted for graft charges which the Ombudsman has ruled as having probable cause. In normal criminal prosecution procedures, it only takes a ruling of probable cause for an accused to be indicted and get arrested.
In a talk with Senator Nancy Binay, I heard her express confidence that no such arrest could materialize.
“There are no charges filed against Dad at the Sandiganbayan. There is no basis whatsoever for his arrest,” the lady senator said.
Senator Binay was speaking in all candor and in sincerity of faith in constitutional processes. On the question of whether or not she saw an extension of term by President Aquino, she said, “I don’t think so. He has done much already by way of leaving a legacy. I don’t think he will spoil that legacy.”
The small talk took place at the wake for my wife Beth in which Senator Binay joined us one evening, and the occasion did not quite augur for a spirited political discussion.
Whatever private thoughts I had on the matter, I merely kept to myself. But my thoughts were revolting.
At about this period in 1985, the nation was in turmoil. The election fever of the snap presidential polls had seized the entire populace, polarizing them into the Marcos loyalists and the Cory Yellow followers.
Came 1986, and the elections were finally held. Counting of results of the polls was progressing smoothly at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) when, as the tally clearly indicated a Marcos win, the canvassers, as if at a cue from an orchestra conductor, walked out of the proceedings, triggering the civil disobedience campaign Cory launched by way of frustrating the legitimate, democratic elections and thereby getting herself forcibly installed as a replacement of Marcos.
That the subsequent so-called EDSA People Power Revolt that purportedly toppled Marcos was the culmination of a grand United States machination was indicated early on by a number of developments.
First, the mobilization of international media whose representatives got VIP treatment at the Manila Hotel, hinting that some big happening was in the offing, meriting international attention.
Then there was the high-profile intervention by US Senator Richard Lugar, head of the US congressional observer team, who in a shameless show of bias for the American Boy agrooming, Cory, eventually declared so-called massive disenfranchisement of voters in those elections.
In the first place, what goddamn business did Lugar have meddling in the strictly internal affair of the Philippines?
And topping all this was the docking of the US Seventh Fleet on Manila Bay, clearly as a deterrent to any probable intervention by certain other international powers which might come to Marcos’ succor, in case he chose to defy the US. That there was a potential for this eventuality was betrayed by the fact that once Marcos’ win in the snap polls became evident, the Russian ambassador already conveyed his congratulations to the President.
As history would have it, while Marcos was being proclaimed winner by the constitutionally-mandated body to do the job, the Batasang Pambansa, Cory was getting herself similarly proclaimed by a private, self-anointed entity, the Namfrel.
Which of the two proclamations was valid is clear: It was Marcos’. But what would transpire thereafter was the military breakaway by the Juan Ponce Enrile-Fidel Ramos tandem, transforming the legitimate electoral process that was the snap presidential poll into the power grab that was the so-called EDSA People Power Revolt.
Thus began the Cory-Ninoy legacy of bastardizing constitutional processes to get the extra-legal, call that the American, agenda done.
When Benigno Aquino 3rd got elected President in 2010 mainly by virtue of Ninoy’s and Cory’s deaths, he had this legacy to ride on. His actions early on in his Administration indicated he was his parents’ boy – an irreverent and expert manipulator of constitutional processes in order to achieve sinister political ends.
In 2012, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the travel ban on former President and now House Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Aquino defied the TRO, preventing Gloria from boarding a plane en route to her medical treatment abroad. He hastily had criminal charges filed against her as a ploy for getting her jailed, albeit in a hospital.
Also that year, Aquino had Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona impeached in lightning fashion that though seemingly adhering to legal and constitutional procedures nonetheless were in stark violation of the same. Witness that of the original eight articles of impeachment, only the non-disclosure of assets in SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) was considered for passing a conviction of guilty by the Senate Impeachment Trial Court. And what was the non-disclosed asset? Dollar accounts which are protected from public disclosure under the Bank Secrecy Law. In short, Corona’s conviction was passed by virtue of a violation of the law.
Now, nothing in the Philippine Constitution stipulates that constitutional officials like the President or the Vice President are immune from criminal suits. What the Constitution provides is that constitutional officials are removable from office by impeachment. As to the President or the Vice President being immune from suits while in office, it is more of a tradition than a binding constitutional provision. Therefore there is no stopping a would-be despot to reject tradition and cause a suit to be filed against a vice president perceived to hinder his political agenda.
In other words, there is no stopping the Sandiganbayan from hearing – for the first time – an Ombudsman ruling of probable cause for graft and corruption charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay. Once this happens, judicial procedures instantly apply, VP Binay will be arrested and jailed.
Roxas is left with surely beatable foes, Santiago and Duterte.
Cool, just cool.
That’s why I must lament the Erap decision to join in the presidential candidacy substitution frenzy. It’s nothing but a sharing in the spoils of the bastardization of Philippine democratic processes, a sharing that in its core can only be a component of that very bastardization.
Without meaning it, the presidential candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay has come to be a bastion of democracy in the Philippines. That’s why it has early on become the target for destruction by an oligarchic clique intent on staying in power by all means available in its arsenal of democratic subterfuge and hypocrisy.
Killing the Binay presidential candidacy is the last straw that will break the back of the Philippine democratic camel. How do you counter that? By partaking of the very act of killing – the manipulation of jurisprudence and a play of technicalities in electoral processes by which thereby to defeat the true will of the people? No. The Aquino machination in the current presidential contest betrays a high point in his increasing inclination to tyranny. The only way to combat tyranny is people’s revolutionary action.