What case against Noynoy?

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RENE SAGUISAG

PREZ Digong’s ratings remain high. Why am I not surprised? In a country which voted as No. 7 senator a boxer who had vied for House “Top Absentee” and which may elect him as Prez in 2022, anything is possible. Like, ordering the killing of criminals which negates the presumption of innocence. Indeed, even convicts in Munti—criminals— may be summarily killed because of some silly presidential order.

Yes, even Senator Leila may be killed by one who may not see that the Prez is just being hyperbolic. Or joking. In his eyes and those of Vit Aguirre, she is a criminal, and say so. In mine, she remains presumed innocent; her mortal sin—criticizing Digong on human rights, for which he does not care.

There is so much in what he says and does that I disagree with that I am surprised when I find myself on the same page with him, whose success I yearn for, as his success is everyone’s.

No, there is no case against PNoy on Mamasapano, as charged, with all due respect to the deservingly admired Ombudsman.


The front page of Hawaii Tribune-Herald dated November 30, 1941 headlined a possible Japanese strike somewhere in Asia or the South Pacific. Both were struck a week later. Can one imagine Prez Franklin Delano Roosevelt being charged with dereliction or something in the exercise of his power as commander in chief? This would suggest prosecuting and convicting him for having advance knowledge of Pearl Harbor (1941) and doing nothing about it (natulog sa pansitan), JFK for the Bay of Pigs (1962), Carter for the botched Iran rescue try (1980), Reagan for Beirut, 220 Marines killed (1983), Clinton for Black Hawk Down, 18 casualties (1993), and the Bushes and Obama for the continuing Iraq/Syria debacle and bloodbath.

Maybe even Prez Duterte is liable for the Marawi friendly fire casualties(?). Unreasonable, from where I sit. Presidential command responsibility is not criminal responsibility. But, onli in d Pilipins would it seem possible to charge a Prez for a judgment call within the ambit of his powers. No wonder Digong calls the charges “silly.”
He authorized the Marawi operation and/or has not done anything to stop it. A number of troopers have been killed by friendly fire. Would he be liable for it? Of course not.

When one enters the life of a combatant, he and his family are aware that any day he may come home in a box. He has a choice just to plant camote but chose admirably to take seriously our anthem ending with “ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.”

Reckless imprudence would mean a probationable sentence, at worst, so bring it on. Graft, not probationable. A violation of Art. 177 of the Revised Penal Code (usurpation) is punishable by prision correccional. Probationable also. RA 3019, Sec. 3(a), anti-graft, nope, but bailable. It seems to me critics should thank, not impeach, the Ombudsman, for the puzzling heavier anti-graft case, unlike the Kenkoy reckless imprudence charge, a nothing case? All offenses flying in the air are bailable. So, no detention, some people’s wet dream, for Noynoy a la Senator Leila’s.

The Mamasapano 44 would appear to have been the most benefited and honored by government and private sources. What about the grunts who get killed regularly in combat all over? And victims of collateral damage?
Operation Exodus deep-sixed Marwan, a known international terrorist and in that sense Mamasapano was a success, if not complete.

Usurpation? In a President’s vast plenitude of powers, were I chief executive and commander in chief, I might have asked that, among the death row convicts in Munti (convicts, not only suspended like Purisima), why not invite 12 volunteers to go to Marawi to get the Mautes and if they survived, they would be pardoned? The Dirty Dozen could even be hailed as heroes.

Using the 2014 Philippine Political Law book of the Cruzes, Isagani and Carlo, pere et fils, I read to my San Beda class last Saturday the following characterization by Clinton Rossiter on the scope of the powers of an American President who is “not a Gulliver immobilized by ten thousand tiny cords, nor even a Prometheus chained to a rock of frustration. He is, rather, a kind of magnificent [red?] lion who can roam widely and do great deeds so long as he does not try to break loose from his broad reservation. Our pluralistic system of restraints is designed to keep him from going out of bounds, not to paralyze him in the field that has been reserved for his use. He will feel few checks upon his power if he uses that power as he should. This may well be the final definition of the strong and successful President: the one who knows just far as he can go [here, to hunt Marwan] in the direction he wants to go. If he cannot judge the limits of his power, he cannot call upon its strength. If he cannot sense the possible, he will exhaust himself attempting the impossible. The power of the presidency moves as a mighty host only with the grain of morality and liberty.” (I wanted to get the year of publication, my style, but it seems the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center in Pasay is impregnable and not welcoming of visitors the way it used to be.)
No wonder JFK wanted the presidency, cuz “that is where the power is.” Not true here?

For Mamasapano, Noynoy will answer to God and history, not to any court. And say, with Fidel Castro, “la historia me absolverá.” “History will absolve me.” History will judge Noynoy for any decision he made within the scope of his duties, even if merely colorably within it. Infallibility of perfection is not a requirement of any Prez. No mortal can qualify otherwise?

Chain-of-command means a buck private may not deal directly with the commander in chief but has to go through channels. The Prez however can call on anyone to help in the fight against terrorism. No “chain of command” or “line of authority” violated.

If the cycle is savagery, civilization and decay, are we now in the third stage? Vulgar language, no respect for life or dignity, gross insensitivity, impossible traffic, death by hanging by the neck till dead, publicly flouting marital rules, abandoning our arbitration win and preventing being raped by China by giving our timely consent, sexism, etc. Now, political vendetta against PNoy endorsed by Secretary Vit (but self-servingly rejected by Digong).

To be fair, we may be in some gray area. The Mamasapano foray bagged Marwan, on whose head was $6 million; when troopers bravely entered enemy lair, casualties would ensue, here, including Sara, 5, and other Muslim civvies, forgotten forlorn collateral damage. There must be justice for Sara and the others terminated with extreme prejudice. Yes, what about the Muslim farmer whose eyes were gouged out (dinukit)?

Condemning Noynoy for Mamasapano may be like blaming FDR for Pearl Harbor, Clinton, for Black Hawk Down, etc.. Fortunes of war. From the outside world, nothing about Mamasapano; heavily armed trained attackers got killed? Ho-hum.

History will judge Noynoy, not any court, for any decision he made within the scope of his duties, even if merely colorable (but it would be funny if a Prez were to invoke immunity for rape, which is not in the job description of the presidency). And surely, a former Prez is entitled to a preliminary investigation—we all are, for grave charges—for his side of the story, about which I have read nothing.

That he is a former Prez sought to be made liable for multiple deaths should count for something; hit me, but hear me first, cried the ancients.

The lone killing of Lenny Villa on February 11, 1991, the Supreme Court wrote finis to, in 2016, after 25 years. How long for the Mamasapano 44? Longer, if we care for our Muslim brothers and sisters, beginning with Sara, five, very, very dead and parents both wounded. Who killed them? Fellow Muslims?

And I am reminded to ask: why should Cory be blamed now and then by some quarters for the January 22, 1987 Mendiola Massacre, so-called? The Abad Santos commish (Justice Vicente Abad Santos, Justice Joe Feria and libertarian Tony Miranda, all with sterling credentials), did not blame her. Neither did a Manila RTC judge (savvy Bert Sandoval, who retired as a Sandiganbayan justice, my stude life contempo, and now, the new Special Prosecutor in the Sandiganbayan),

After she stepped down, she was sued over Mendiola. The late Cong. Ding Tanjuatco, Dean Mel Sta. Maria and I were privileged to defend her. QC-RTC Judge Percival Mandap Lopez sustained our theory, on January 4, 1999, that it was filed out of time, among other reasons. Judge Lopez granted the motions to dismiss filed by Cory, FVR and Fred Lim. “The cause of action . . . allegedly occurred on January 22, 1987. The complaint . . . filed before the Manila RTC [before Judge Sandoval], . . . was dismissed in an order dated March 11, 1994, which reads: `Considering that the decision was rendered in this case as early as March 19, 1993 by the Honorable Supreme Court dismissing the petition for certiorari and which was received by this court on March 31, 1993, and despite the lapse of almost one (1) year plaintiffs did not make any move to further prosecute this case, this case is ordered dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute. As aptly manifested by R.A.V. Saguisag and Emigdio S. Tanjuatco, Jr., counsels for defendant Corazon C. Aquino, the dismissal of Civil Case No. 88-43351 has legal effect on the prescriptive period’.”

My take was our people would judge Prez Cory by the manifestation of her entire life, not by the testimony of a single incident or two. Recall her final journey home on August 5, 2009, at the Manila Memorial Park. For Mendiola and Mamasapano, she and Noynoy will answer to God and history, not to any court.

I am an incorrigible Yellowtard, aren’t I? And proud of it. But, I sued PNoy on the return of American troopers without involving the Senate and lean in favor of Imee and the Ilocos6 as they appear to be needlessly bullied by the House. Why not try working out immunity for one of the six?

Full disclosure: the other night I was seated next to Noynoy in the party of bday Boy Nolasco, a common friend, and a fellow ballroom addict.

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