Now the judiciary can return to normalcy
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - September 13, 2018 - 12:00am

Last Aug. 28 we entitled our column “An impeachment impossible” because I personally believed that newly appointed Chief Justice Teresita de Castro and Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Andres Reyes Jr., Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam and Alexander Gesmundo would never be impeached for allowing the Quo Warranto decision that removed Ma. Lourdes Sereno. We columnists have already been warned not to make prophesies in our columns. However I felt that in this particular case, I never entertained any thoughts that Congress would be so stupid to allow this thing to happen to the Judiciary. True enough my prophesies came through!

I was watching ANC TV when Mindoro Oriental Rep. Salvador Leachon, committee chairman, announced “The complaints are hereby declared by this committee to be insufficient in substance and dismissed.”

Opposition Reps. Edcel Lagman of Albay, Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao and Gary Alejano of Magdalo who filed the impeachment complaints meekly requested for a case of reconsideration.

But Rep. Leachon was just being polite to them when he asked them to file that case for reconsideration, but my bets are… this case is over, finished or done! The committee declared the evidence presented to them as insufficient in substance and therefore considered dismissed! At this point, we can finally say that the Judiciary can now return to some kind of normalcy after the ugly removal of the late SC Chief Justice Renato Corona and the removal by Quo Warranto of Ma. Lourdes Sereno. Let’s hope and pray that this will be the end of top political leaders using the Legislative branch to remove Supreme Court Justices that they dislike.

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This week was quite unnerving in the sense that certain legal issues remain unanswered with regards to Proclamation No. 572 signed by Pres. Rodrigo  Duterte because the yellow fanged opposition went out of its way to use this issue at a time when prices of basic goods were rising and the political situation was supposed to be collapsing. Worse was when Pres. Duterte wanted to talk to the nation, which we later found out was a one-on-one interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo Tuesday afternoon.

The rumor mills were churning so fast that the social media networks predicted that the end of Duterte was near and he was out to declare Martial Law in order to keep himself in power! So despite my busy schedule, I had to tune in to my TV set to hear what Pres. Duterte had to say. What we saw was a Pres. Duterte who was obviously in control of the situation and talked about issues from the high prices of basic commodities to the amnesty granted to Trillanes by the previous administration, and the supposed plot to oust him and the country’s rice crisis.

In the end, the President relieved National Food Authority chief Jason Aquino and asked Congress to abolish the NFA Council. Now I guess it’s up to Congress to keep or abolish the NFA Council and whether by doing so, it would resolve the rice crisis. One solution we’ve always looked at is for the Philippines to support our rice farmers through some kind of subsidy. Come now, we taught the Thais how to plant rice, but now we import rice from them. There is something wrong with this equation and various groups have offered solutions, but proper solutions are needed here.

On the issue of the amnesty given to Sen. Antonio Trillanes the President stated that his predecessor former Pres. Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino, apparently did not sign the amnesty for Trillanes because he believed that then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s giving this Amnesty to Trillanes was sufficient. But apparently, the grant of amnesty is a presidential power that cannot be delegated to presidential appointees. Pres. Duterte also claimed that former Defense chief Voltaire Gazmin committed “usurpation of authority” when he signed the certificate of amnesty issued to Trillanes. This is a serious accusation done by the President.

Opposition stalwart. Sen. Risa Hontiveros called the tête-à-tête a “complete disappointment” and “a total waste of time and precious government resources.” I have no doubt that Sen. Hontiveros expected much more from Pres. Duterte or for him to do even worse like declaring Martial Law. But her disappointment is not shared by many people who believed that the President did the right thing in having what I would call a “fireside” chat with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. On the contrary the President talked a lot with Panelo, which gives us an idea that Pres. Duterte is truly in control of the situation. Let me suggest to Sec. Panelo (I first met him during Mother Lily’s birthday bash a few weeks ago) that they should have a fireside chat at least once a month. It’s good for the nation.

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