Writing on the wall in retrospect

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First of three parts

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I WROTE the following articles back in 2012 as the nation throbbed with the frenzy of the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. It was not intended for any particular publication but just a form of pure release of my private perceptions of the political developments at the time. As we say, for posterity, I committed it to my blog KAMAO, hoping it would attract readership anyhow in terms of visitors that come by from time to time.

A most distinct development that I perceive characterizes the current presidential campaign period prompts me now to unearth these articles from the archives. I strongly sense President Benigno C. Aquino 3rd coming on a bit too strong for comfort. For instance, despite the increasing public outcry against the maladministration by DOTC Secretary Abaya of the MRT, he continues to retain him in the post, completely deaf to popular demand for Abaya’s ouster. And then there’s his recent brazen veto of the SSS pension increase bill which would have granted the nation’s elderlies P2000 additional monthly stipend. In one fell swoop, Aquino vetoed the bill, and it is worrisome. It is campaign period and he needs all pogi points for his bet Mar Roxas in the presidential contest, and yet he dared send rage sweeping among senior citizens the country over.

And then again, there’s that mockery with which he countered the complaints of the bereaved loved ones of the SAF 44, betraying a most loathsome disregard for human sensibilities, let alone those of his own soldiers, he being the Commander-in-Chief of the Police. Here is a post from Twitter follower Maxell which, shared on my Facebook account, has generated hundreds of shares, a phenomenon of sort:

Make no mistake about it, the guy is up to something. Contrary to asides by his political enemies, President Aquino is no abnoy. He is somebody quite conscious of the enormous powers he’s got in his hands and is simply about ready to wield it to the hilt.

In the following article, I dared predict an upheaval similar to EDSA 3 to come about as a consequence of the Corona impeachment. That day CJ Corona took the witness stand in his impeachment trial, I knew it was happening. A noisy convoy of vehicles doing the rounds of thoroughfares leading to the Senate presaged his arrival at the Senate trial hall, and when he suddenly rose and walked away, I knew I had said it all right. CJ Corona was walking out! And I saw a repeat of the opposition walkout in the impeachment trial of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada – the onset of EDSA 4. Sometime earlier, the Iglesia ni Cristo had massed some 2 million warm bodies in what was billed as Malaking Pamamahayag at the Rizal Park which the nation regarded as Corona’s show of force against Aquino. A couple of minutes more and CJ Corona would step out of the Senate and signal the burst of the social conflagration. Alas, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ordered in time to close all exits – and whatever had been planned to culminate in the Corona walkout just, evidently, fizzled out.

Had I gone wrong then? I just couldn’t reconcile with the thought. The pieces in the Corona Chronology just fell into place for my assertions to be incorrect. Bolstering this feeling was that in a follow-up article, posted similarly in my Blog, I dared hint that Dean Mavic Leonen would be the replacement Supreme Court Chief Justice. At the time, Leonen was head of the government negotiating panel in the Mindanao peace talks and was hardly considered a potential for a High Tribunal associate justice post. Then all of a sudden, who would land the shortlist of JBC recommendees for SC associate justices but the most youngish-looking of them all – Mavic Leonen.

Still in all, what I dared predict for Leonen was as a replacement for Corona. He was only appointed SC Associate Justice.

Had I not gone wrong again? I thought I had, but nonetheless took consolation from the fact that Leonen got into SC after all. And then a year afterward, somebody in the know confirmed to me that President Aquino did offer to Leonen the post of SC Chief Justice but that out of delicadeza, Leonen declined. Leonen must be getting enormous backing from something as big as the CIA to be offered that post by the President himself.

Thus given the continuing predilection of Aquino to engage in political brinkmanship, maintain his attitude of apathy and arrogance even toward the downtrodden, and maximize use of presidential powers in him vested by the Constitution crafted by his mother, never mind that in so maximizing he gets the people all mad at him, there is hardly any doubt that he is ready to enlist in the roster of history’s most hated despots.

In this respect, I submit the following pieces for the readers’ perusal.

The Corona chronology
She could not have put it more aptly when in her keynote speech at the Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao Seminar (dubbed COP 5) held January 17, 2012 at the University Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told her listeners, “The peace process is moving during a time of great debate, or even political adversary… It is naïve to think that one can work for peace advocacy without engaging the political arena.”

Hence it is naïve to think that the Mindanao peace negotiations can be worked out at this point without considering how those negotiations relate to the ongoing impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

Post-Conflict scenarios through current challenges
In no uncertain terms, Secretary Deles declared, “We try to foresee and prepare for implementation stresses by already discussing post-conflict scenarios even as we craft plans and strategies to address today’s challenges.”

This interplay of events that are meant to come about from the peace negotiations on Mindanao and events that are currently taking place creates a picture of a machination whereby the latter are being made to influence the development of the former, and this should be alarming. This could only mean that the intransigence of President Benigno Aquino III in his passion to deal former PGMA “political accountability” and Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona perpetual damnation is a crafting of a condition for bringing about what is being desired from the Mindanao peace process – whatever that is.

In other words, GMA and Chief Justice Corona are being pilloried for purported acts of graft and corruption and other evil doings in government less because they committed those acts than because pillorying them thus is the condition for achieving the aimed result of the Mindanao peace negotiations

In the presidential peace adviser’s speech, GMA is treated as a far greater threat to political stability than the armed insurgencies of the CPP/NPA/NDF, RPM-P/RPA/ABB, and MNLF combined. While the insurgents are to be forgiven in the name of peace, GMA cannot in the same name.

Exactly what “political accountability” for GMA means, one can only conjecture, but it surely evokes imageries of lynch crowd and gallows and at any rate must connote an inflexible, unforgiving attitude.

Chronology for Chaos
In the case of CJ Corona, his clash with President Aquino could lead to the likes of the Estrada impeachment in 2001 – the mob rule that ousted him from the Presidency. How can such a situation augur for good prospects of peacekeeping and peacebuilding as Secretary Deles declared in her speech?

Unless, yes, indeed, the obtaining prospects of chaos and anarchy are conditions for ultimate peace in Mindanao.

The ongoing negotiations by the MILF and the government over Mindanao are just the continuation of the revived peace talks that resulted from a meeting between MILF Chief Al Hadj Murad and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney in 2008. Citing the chronology of events in the run up to the Malaysia seminar is in order if that will help determine where CJ Corona fits into the scheme of things.

Afternoon of November 15, the Supreme Court en banc issues Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Bureau of Immigration (BI) Watch List Order which bans RGMA travel abroad. The TRO effectively lifts the travel ban, but Secretary Leila de Lima of the Department of Justice (DOJ) under which the BI falls stands pat on the watch list order, defying the TRO. RGMA, looking weak in a wheelchair, retreats to the St. Luke’s in Global City, Taguig.

That Presidential defiance of the Supreme Court ruling made travesty of the rule of law and, with CJ Corona’s steadfast stand in upholding constitutional processes, effected a serious crack in the country’s system of government, i.e., the democratic system of checks and balances among the three co-equal braches, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.

November 17, charges of electoral sabotage are filed at Pasay City RTC against GMA. Reports say she will try again to leave Friday. Supreme Court announces TRO remains in force.

November 18, RGMA is held in police custody, under hospital arrest.

November 22, Supreme Court rules distribution of Hacienda Luisita to tenant farmers.

November 24, that Supreme Court ruling is announced. Hacienda Luisita farmers are jubilant.

December 5, P-Noy berates Corona at the Criminal Justice Summit.

December 12, articles of impeachment signed; in Supreme Court flag-raising ceremony Corona resolves to fight it out.

December 13. Articles of impeachment filed with Senate. The crack between the Executive and the Judiciary is bound to be irreparable.

December 14, judiciary personnel across the nation spill out into the streets in what media describe as a Court Holiday; Senate is constituted as an impeachment court, sets trial to begin January 16, 2012 when it resumes session after the holidays

January 16, 2012, impeachment trial begins: the fireworks.

End of the chronology.

Views about the impeachment were as varied as the social sectors expressing them. The most pragmatic assessment came from former Senator Ernesto Maceda, who himself had once served as Senate President and a member of the defense panel in the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

In the ANC commentary program, Tamano Perspective, hosted by Atty. Adel Tamano, the former Senate President cited what he called seven factors that were at play in the Corona impeachment trial: 1) Merits, concerned with the merits of the impeachment charges; 2) Public Opinion, with what the public perceives the case to be; 3) Political Factor, dealing with the composition of the Senate which permeates widely varied political parties, making it difficult to muster the number of 16 to get a conviction while making it relatively easy for CJ Corona to get just 8 and win an acquittal, with 3 of these 8 having already expressed their commitment in his favor; 4 ) Joker Arroyo Factor, which raises the prospect of the Senate being the next object of P-Noy’s demolition job should he succeed in discrediting the Supreme Court; 5) Carpio Factor, delving on the perception of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as the lesser evil for the seat of Chief Justice; 6) Binay Factor, citing the possibility that a Corona ouster from the Supreme Court could encourage the impeachment of three more SC members, in which event the fulcrum in the electoral protest filed by Mar Roxas against Binay could shift to the former’s favor thereby causing the latter to lose his Vice Presidential post; and 7) Lobby Factor, or what former Senate President Maceda called the “Gapang Factor.”

(Continued on Saturday Feb. 13.)

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