Youth is not entirely a time of life,
It is a state of mind.
It is not merely a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips
and supple knees.
It is a quality of the imagination; a vigor of the emotion.
Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years;
People grow old only by deserting their ideals.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt.
As young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear.
In the central place of every heart is a recording chamber.
So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage,
So long are you young.
But when the wires are down and covered by the snows of
pessimism and the ice of cynicism.
Then and only then are you grown old.
– From a poem of Samuel Ullman, as edited and popularized by Gen. Douglas McArthur
SOME people may wonder why I start my columns and every chapter of my books with a quotation. I just love doing this to test the sharpness of my memory and the brilliance of my choices. The test works with me as it probably does with others.
My being enthused, for the moment, with the theme on youth was triggered by the comment of Winnie Monsod in her column of August 22, 2015 in the Inquirer: “I got to see Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile up close and personal yesterday morning at his residence…The good news (it depends on where you sit) is that he looked hale and hearty. Of course, I know that he has ailments – macular degeneration, for one, and usual age-related ‘conditions’ (heart, diabetes, etc. – but he looked better than I do, and he has 18 years on me.”
Monsod missed out on one thing – the continuing rumor that the senator underwent a stem cell treatment, not in Berlin but in Romania, the famous place of Count Dracula. If true, he was smart enough to do that because if he committed the mistake of undergoing the treatment in Berlin, it would not be improbable that he could have joined the innumerable caravan of the likes of two congressmen from Mindanao and one from Bohol who had their treatment done in Berlin.
Enrile looks young and active
The way Enrile looks in television and in the newspapers, it is as though he has the same blessings of living forever like Count Dracula. Heaven help this country if he does, especially because he looks good, healthy, and “raring to go” as Monsod puts it so well. As he looks so well and raring to go, where is the humanitarian reason that the majority of the Supreme Court cites as the basis for setting him free? Humanitarian reason is really beside the point because this is not one of the grounds for granting bail in capital offenses both in the Constitution and the Rules of Court and the crime of plunder is a capital offense.
This takes us to the headline of the Inquirer which declares;
“Back to banana republic’ with subhead “De Lima: JPE bail ruling shows SC favoring elite.” The quote comes from PNoy’s Secretary of Justice denouncing the ruling of the Supreme Court in granting Senator Ponce Enrile bail as favoring the rich and famous, and claiming that the ruling takes us back to the condition of the country as a banana Republic, especially due to its system of justice.
Where has DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima been all these years– in a cave, on the moon? The condition of our justice system has always been that of a banana Republic starting 1946 when the Philippines became legally independent from the United States of America.
Remember the following events and practices:
(a) in 1949 when Elpidio Quirino, the candidate of the Liberal Party for president of the Philippines, won, he was quoted to have said – “The Constitution is a mere scrap of paper.”
(b) when during the same period, Jose Avelino, a leader of the Liberal Party was elected president of the Senate, he also was quoted to have said – “What are we in power for?” [Publisher/Editor’s note: This quote has been admitted to be an invention of an anti-Quirino and anti-Avelino columnist.].
(c) Angel Baking and Simeon “Sammy” Rodriguez and several others were convicted by the Court of First Instance for rebellion and sentenced to reclusion perpetua, meaning for life. Elevated to the Supreme Court, the case saw them sentenced only to 10 years but they stayed in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) for 20 years. (d) The drug lords charged with capital offenses detained in the NBP have enjoyed a luxurious life inside.
(e) the Ampatuans charged with several cases of murder and related offenses have been in trial for the past five years when they are perceived to be as guilty as Hell.
(f) The grafters and the corrupt in all levels of government are still having the time of their lives continuing with their criminal activities–under the so-called Dang Matuwid.
(g) The selective justice in the Aquino administration with De Lima in the DOJ and in previous administrations.
(h) The culprits involved in the PDAP, DAP, in Customs, Immigration, BIR, in the Cabinet and other offices in government are still free as birds continuing their nefarious activities.
(i) The police officers and men involved in serious criminal offenses continue to ply their trade;
(j) At least 50 percent of lawyers, prosecutors and judges are involved in corrupt and graft-ridden practices.
(k)Many generals, officers and men guilty of graft and corruption and human rights violations are still in the military unpunished for their crimes.
(l) Justice for the massacred SAF 44 is nowhere in sight. And;
(m) PNoy is ramming through Congress a BBL which wantonly violates the Constitution.
We can continue with the enumeration till hell freezes over, yet it is only now that the DOJ Secretary admits that we are a banana republic, and only after the coup for Enrile by the Supreme Court.
We have always been a banana republic not only on the level of our justice system but in many other levels. So what else is new?
Enrile grant of bail unconstitutional
The grant of bail to Enrile is a simple case of judicial legislation. The Constitution provides only one case where bail can be granted in capital offenses like plunder–this is only when the evidence of guilt is not strong. The same holds true in the Rules of Court, In effect. Enrile got away with murder, for the moment, thanks to the Supreme Court majority.
In this case, I fully agree with the dissenters from the Enrile bail ruling and with DOJ Secretary De Lima that the majority of the members of the Supreme Court are wrong. But as an oft-quoted American Supreme Court Justice said, a long time ago, the decision of the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible; it is infallible because it is final.
The implication of this SC ruling is awesome because it could mean that a majority of the Supreme Court could amend our Constitution. Of course, constitutionally, it cannot do so because only the Constitutional Convention or the Constituent Assembly can do it, and if their work is approved by the people in a plebiscite for that purpose.
But are the people helpless in the face of this unconstitutional ruling on the grant of bail to Enrile? Of course, not! The majority members of the Supreme Court did a culpable violation of the Constitution and they can be impeached.
Footnote to the SC ruling
As a footnote to this bail ruling of the SC majority, I still clearly remember that Enrile was President of the Senate when Chief Justice Renato Corona was on trial in the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.
Journalist Herman Tiu “Mentong” Laurel and this writer filed a case before the Supreme Court against Enrile and the Senate, and Belmonte and the House of Representatives, questioning the validity and constitutionality of the proceedings of both houses of Congress on the Corona impeachment and trial. We filed at least two motions for oral arguments. They were neither denied nor granted. They were just met with complete silence and completely ignored.
The case is important because it involves the impeachment and trial of no less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But when Enrile as President of the Senate and Presiding officer of the Impeachment Court was interviewed about the possibility of the Supreme Court intervening with a temporary restraining order, Enrile warned the Supreme Court that such constitutional intervention would trigger a constitutional crisis since Enrile and the Senate would not obey the TRO. With the Enrile threat, strangely enough, the Supreme Court dilly-dallied on ruling on our case until after the Senate convicted Corona and the latter accepted the conviction.
Then, the Supreme Court resolved that it did not have to rule on the merits of our case since it had become moot and academic.
Madam DOJ Secretary, this is another case of your failed and inutile system of justice favoring the rich and influential as against the poor and powerless – President of the Senate Enrile against two puny citizens, Mentong Laurel and Bono Adaza.
On this issue, I rest my case for a Constitutional Transition Government where justice, among others, is equal for all – rich or poor, powerful or powerless, womanizer or manizer, economic giant or penurious pygmy, fat or thin, young or old, beautiful or ugly, crook or honest citizen, exploiter or exploited, plunderer or plundered, and way down the line.