THE betrayal could never have been more painful than when she revealed to the international community raw and unverified information alleging a serious matter which is damaging not only to the President but to the reputation of the entire country and every Filipino. What makes the betrayal more callous is that she further made preposterous claims that painted our country as a failed state, where laws are no longer operating, and where institutions have broken down, leaving her no other option but to run to the UN for succor and relief.
What made the act unforgivable is that the one who betrayed us is no other than Maria Leonora Gerona Robredo, the one who currently acts as Vice President, or at least until the electoral protest doubting her election will be finally resolved.
Under the 1987 Constitution, betrayal of public trust is considered as a ground for impeachment of qualified officials, in addition to culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption and other high crimes.
The Supreme Court, in Gonzales vs. Office of the President, et al. (G.R. No. 196231) and Sulit vs Ochoa et al. (G.R. No. 196232), promulgatedon September 4, 2012, has defined betrayal of public trust. According to the court, citing the Constitutional Commission, it refers to “acts which are just short of being criminal but constitute gross faithlessness against public trust, tyrannical abuse of power, inexcusable negligence of duty, favoritism, and gross exercise of discretionary powers.”
The court recognized that betrayal of public trust can be easily abused, and can be appropriated to justify impeaching any public official on the basis of just any conceivable misconduct or negligence. Hence, it ruled that “acts that should constitute betrayal of public trust as to warrant removal from office may be less than criminal but must be attended by bad faith and of such gravity and seriousness as the other grounds for impeachment.” The court also took cognizance of the intent of the framers of the Constitution that good faith and human error can be invoked to negate an allegation of betraying public trust.
Leni Robredo’s irresponsible disclosure is not a product of human error, but a deliberate action aimed at calling the attention of the UN, through a video to be presented in a forum sponsored by an NGO, with the hope that such could be taken up in the more formal UN meeting on narcotics.
The context within which such act emerged reveals the grossness of the bad faith. Robredo is at the forefront in criticizing the President, yet her right to speak is never curtailed. She knew that our legal institutions still operate, and that we are not a failed state. She could have informed the police authorities of the details, and not just the existence, of her allegation about “palitulo.” She had all internal remedies available to seek justice, to punish erring police officers, and to shield innocent citizens from abusive officials. She did not have to go to an international forum.
The court ruled that the ground for betrayal of public trust must be in the same gravity as the other grounds. Treason is one of the grounds for impeachment, except that we cannot use treason since we are not in a state of war with other countries.
However, it is clear that our country and our President are now facing hostility from the international media community, and from global organizations such as the UN and the EU. It is a fact that international news and opinion columns derogatory to the President and painting our country in a bad light have systematically emerged and are prevalent. The UN, through its officials, has repeatedly aired criticisms. And just recently, the EU, in a clear sign of neo-imperialist, neo-colonialist interventionism, has treated us like a vassal state, undermining our sovereignty by intruding into our authority to implement our own criminal laws relative to Senator Leila de Lima.
It is in this context that Leni Robredo’s betrayal, her audacious abandoning of her oath of office to protect the interest of the country, by taking her unfounded accusations to a world forum that is already hostile to our interests, has acquired a gravity equivalent to the act of treason.
Leni Robredo appears to cling to her position as Vice President, which is evident in her dilatory moves vis-à-vis the electoral protest of Senator Bongbong Marcos. However, while she is determined to hold on to it, she does not act in ways to convince us that she deserves the position.
The Constitution and the courts may not have mentioned one empirical indicator of betrayal of public trust. Betrayal is reflected on the hatred of the public she betrayed. And it is clear that a significant majority of that public despise Leni Robredo. She is now seen as an enemy of the people.
While this may not count in an impeachment proceeding, it is the unkindest cut of all.