PERHAPS bewildered by the spectacle of Filipino lawyers making a mockery of our public life, a regular reader and expatriate executive has sent me a revealing comment on the legal profession in our country.
I surmise that he took off from a set of phenomena, some current, and some much older, namely:
1.The sight of the lawyer of Vice President Leni Robredo advising her not to pay her share of the costs of the vice-presidential election protest as ordered by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), and then declaring that the protest will not be resolved by the tribunal until the entire term of the Vice President runs out.
2. The ambitious move of one Filipino lawyer, who represents self-confessed death-squad killer Edgar Matobato,
to take President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 others to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly perpetrating nearly 9,000 extra-judicial killings in Davao City and in the ongoing war on illegal drugs.
3. The sight of a Filipino justice secretary allowing the conversion of the national penitentiary (New Bilibid Prison) into a facility for drug manufacturing and trafficking, and drawing kickbacks for the arrangement.
4. The spectacle of a President, a former public prosecutor, launching a war on drugs that will target the killing of drug suspects (drug lords, drug pushers and drug addicts) and do away with due process.
Stop being Mickey Mouse
As a business executive, my reader has plenty of experience in working with lawyers in corporate management. Like a physician, he dispensed this advice and criticism of our country:
“The Philippines has to stop being Mickey Mouse in everything it does and raise standards or continue being third-rate and corrupt.
“Employ the best lawyers; they will not tolerate any corruption and ensure it does not happen. Their biggest business asset is their integrity. They would never compromise that.
“Stop employing corrupt/bad lawyers. That is fundamentally the root of most problems, and maybe this explains why the Philippines by law ensures that foreign lawyers cannot be employed, so that only corrupt Filipino lawyers are employed.”
Many of my lawyer friends will be unhappy with this. But I think we all should listen.
Not enough rule of law
My reader’s almost brutal point is that for a country where training in the law is considered the best preparation for a career in government and politics, and where there are lawyers nearly everywhere, there is paradoxically little rule of law in the Philippines. Law does not rule.
There is nearly public approval for Duterte’s pronouncements on killing, killing and killing in the anti-drug campaign. The public has become inured to his incessant cursing and vulgarities. And now Filipinos appear to be at peace with the President and Speaker of the House being both serial philanderers.
Robredo must pay up
Another reader shared with me by e-mail the information that he overheard some LP and Robredo supporters discussing my column on the VP election recount (“The VP election recount: A proving ground for PH democracy”, Times, April 22, 2017).|
In support of Leni, her supporters contend:
1. The VP has no money to pay “her share of the protest costs, she is poor and disadvantaged, so never mind the blatant dilatory tactics of her battery of lawyers. Never mind that Marcos was given barely 48 hours to put together P36 million on his end.
The pro-Robredo group also discussed the rumor that a BBM recount victory is a “deal” sealed between Duterte and the Marcoses. Worse, they gossiped that nine Supreme Court justices have been bought.
Which leads many to wonder: If the LP and Robredo camp have nothing to hide about the elections, why don’t they allow the recount to take its course without painting frightening scenarios that undermine the integrity of the PET and the credibility of the recount.
The people and the world have a right to know the extent of the Comelec- Smartmatic collusion in the balloting, in much the same way that they want to know the truth about the alleged drug killings.
The whispering campaign of the Yellow cult is being frontally met by a fierce counter-propaganda drive on social media.
Daang matuwid (straight path) is now better known as dayaang matuwid (straight cheating) on social media.
There is much documentation on the cheating in the 2016 elections, and the nature of Smartmatic’s rigging of the vote count, and Comelec’s complicity in the fraud.
Voter fraud ought to be a crime
Filipino legislators do not bat an eyelash in classifying certain crimes as “heinous” and in proposing that the death penalty should be meted for any crime that catches their fancy.
But ironically, in the case of voting fraud, which assaults the very soul of democracy in the country; our politicians are unseeing. Our penal system does not criminalize voting fraud. The most rampant cheating in the elections is overlooked.
I submit that Filipino lawyers could be more useful and patriotic if they devote their time to the writing and passage of a law that will clearly sanction voting fraud and the rigging of the election count.
Instead of using their wiles defending election felons, the lawyers should take part in a movement for electoral integrity. Such a movement to criminalize voting fraud and strengthen electoral integrity is gathering steam today in the US and other countries. It’s time we open our doors to this idea.
Joseph Stalin is credited with observing that, “It’s not the people who vote that count, it’s the people who count the votes.”
When the VP recount is over and done, the 2016 elections will show that the Soviet dictator was prescient. We will know that Comelec must be overhauled root and stem. And Smartmatic must never be allowed to set foot in this country again.