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Opinion

No one is above the law

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

What happened last week during the Comelec hearing of Bong Bong Marcos’ disqualification case showed the Filipinos that no one is above the law. The same goes for the ‘Poblacion girl’ and the accused Pharmally officers.

Let’s begin with BBM’s absence during the Comelec hearing. Why didn’t he go? Why didn’t he show up? If his intentions were sincere, he would have raised hell or gone through high waters to show up. Was he sick with the COVID virus in the first place? Wasn’t he only exposed to two COVID-19 positive people? So, why couldn’t he show up virtually? His absence actually delayed the proceedings because his lawyers were not ready with a medical certificate which is a standard protocol. Even students in grade school know that when you are absent due to sickness or an urgent matter, you have to inform your teacher formally.

I noticed how the lawyers were allegedly delaying the proceedings in many ways even if they said they didn’t want to delay it. I felt it was unbecoming of a professional group whose client is running for the highest office in the country, the President of the Philippines. I expected a higher form of representation, not to mention from BBM himself. Shouldn’t he show the Filipinos how professional he is? How truthful, committed he is to the people? This is not only about the law but about the relationship BBM is establishing with the Filipinos.

This brings to mind many recollections I have of BBM during the seventies and the eighties. He had a bad reputation of always acting as if he were above the law. There were many horror stories told about him during his heyday. Well, yes during the Marcos Era, the first family and their cronies were truly above the law, while many Filipinos going against their will were silenced. But later, the people who had enough of their corruption and antics started to cry foul, thus, the People Power Revolution.

Now, does BBM think he can continue to act like a spoiled brat? If his conscience were clear, he should have shown the nation how sick he was via the television or the digital screen. And by so doing, he would have earned more respect. But no, he chose otherwise.

Anyway, I checked why there seems to be a feeling that BBM’s league of lawyers were trying to delay the hearing of the case(s). I found out that maybe they are trying to delay the proceedings because they know that Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon is scheduled to retire next month. I’m just guessing here because the Commissioner is a tough one. She will bring out the truth. She has always fought for justice all her life and will make sure it is served. I don’t know the rule on whether Guanzon will have to complete this case since she started it or if she will she have to turn it over to another commissioner when she retires. Abangan!

*      *      *

So, what happened to the Poblacion girl? Her name is Gwyneth Chua. Hell broke loose when she arrived on Dec. 23 from the United States, checked in at the Berjaya Hotel in Makati and attended a party that same day in Poblacion, Makati.

How did she get away from being supposedly quarantined in the hotel? Why did her parents encourage her to break the rules? How was she able to join a party without being checked with a QR code as we always are when entering restaurants, malls, etc.?

The worst part of this conundrum is that she was a “gate crasher” in the party she attended that night. How pathetic! How desperate can you be? Susmariosep!

I mentioned in one of my columns a few weeks ago that this story is not new. There have been many travelers who have done this but were not caught. Of course, again under the patronage of the powerful and the well-connected bigwigs. But truly, if you were a decent person, would you really want to risk the lives of other people just because you can get away with flaunting the law?

So, the saga continues when on Dec. 27, her RT-PCR test result came out and it was positive for COVID-19. Later, it was found out that her fellow party-goers, the restaurant staff and other patrons also tested positive. Now, you may ask, did she bring the virus to the party? It may be difficult to prove this but the bottom line is she breached all protocols, including attending a party uninvited.

So, now, can the Chua family use their powerful connections to stop the cases filed against them? Are they still above the law? Last week, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed a complaint before the Makati Prosecutor’s Office against Gwyneth Chua, her parents, her boyfriend and hotel personnel. They were cited for violating Republic Act 11332 or Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Disease and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. The Department of Tourism, on the other hand, “suspended the accreditation of Berjaya Hotel in Makati and revoked its permit as a Multiple-Use Hotel for its failure to stop a guest from breaking quarantine rules. The hotel was also fined twice the rate of its most expensive room.”

Now, thanks to our DOT Secretary who is also a tough cookie, she will make sure that justice is served. What is important now is that all agencies work together to toughen up restrictions and implementation of the law. If we want to get the number of our COVID-19 cases down to the single digits, we must work hard to achieve it.

*      *      *

Let’s not forget about the Pharmally corruption case. This should stick with us because it is such a painful act to note how government officials may be part of this very bad scheme. I cannot even think of how people have the gall to indulge in such corrupt practices. Imagine trying to get one over the people during a pandemic? Sanamagan!

The mind-boggling part of this scandal is why the President seems to be bothered by the Senate hearings conducted by Senator Richard Gordon? I’m confused! Is the President trying to protect the scammers? This is the biggest corruption scandal during this COVID-19 crisis affecting all the Filipinos. We are talking of billions of pesos in unaccounted receipts and overpriced supplies of government procurement.

I am still thankful that we have a ‘check and balance’ system in place. In reality, however, this is made possible only by people who create a stir and who are determined to work on a just society. We need to raise the type of leaders we choose to serve us and beware of those who hide in the dark.

The moral of all three stories is founded in the power of KARMA. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around!

BONGBONG MARCOS

COVID-19

POBLACION

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