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Opinion

The Führer

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

What do Ferdinand Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte have in common? Their Machiavellian style of leadership. It has left the Filipino people paranoid. In short, we no longer trust what we see and believe what we hear.

Abe Rosenthal, a former editor of The New York Times, summed up our Philippine tragedy: “In the Philippines, if it quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck and looks like a duck – then, it must be a horse!”

The marvelous horseplay that has gone too far is the recent pronouncement of Comelec on BBM’s disqualification case. So, who is behind this? You would think BBM or Inday Sara’s group is behind this stunt? Think again. Think twice. My alikabok told me of a plan – a big switch. Enough said. Abangan!

So, where is the President nowadays? He seems all too quiet all of a sudden. Is he packing his bags, ready to leave Malacañang? Well, this is what he says. Of course, he has always been surprising us. There have just been too many in the past years, his bag of tricks is not yet empty. Let’s wait and see.

On the other hand, BBM’s camp has been defending him left and right. Even his non-attendance in presidential forums have been defended like crazy. Notice how he doesn’t speak and just chooses when to open his mouth. His mantra, I guess, is “less talk, less mistake.”

Many have observed how BBM seems to be controlled by his cordon sanitaire. There is a team who watches his every move, lest he makes more mistakes, I guess – on how he replies to questions, his body language and on his over-all presence. Poor little rich boy!

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it is but fitting to remind BBM about the test of manhood. The poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling should be a good reminder to this boy who keeps on crying wolf.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

*      *      *

In its proper context, the decision of the Comelec First Division did not say that the failure to file an ITR is no longer a crime. We still need to file our ITRs and we should still pay our taxes, contrary to what some netizens are recklessly suggesting. The decision was premised on the conclusion that since the failure to file an ITR (which is different from tax evasion) is not inherently wrong, it does not constitute a crime involving moral turpitude. It is not totally accurate to equate an offense involving moral turpitude to a crime that is inherently wrong known in criminal law as mala in se.

In an earlier column, I stressed that whether a crime involves moral turpitude would sometimes depend on the surrounding circumstances, and this is ultimately for the Supreme Court to determine. Thus, as I mentioned there, a violation of the Anti-Graft Act, which is mala prohibita, may also involve moral turpitude, depending on the circumstances. While it cannot be said that the ruling of the Comelec First Division in this regard is wrong, the Supreme Court may view it otherwise, considering the repeated commission of the crime, which is the theory suggested by the retired Supreme Court magistrate who first brought this issue to light and the scrapped Guanzon opinion.

Of more interest perhaps is the finding that the perpetual disqualification under Section 286 of PD 1994 is not an accessory penalty, but a principal one that must be imposed by the judgment to apply.

The pertinent part of Section 286 reads: “If he is a public officer or employee, the maximum penalty prescribed for the offense shall be imposed and, in addition, he shall be xxx perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, to vote and to participate in any election.” It seems very clear that the legislative intent here is for the Court to impose the maximum principal penalty for the failure to file return, which is provided in Section 288 of PD 1994 and, as a necessary and mandatory consequence of the conviction, the law imposes perpetual disqualification in addition to the principal penalty. Hence, there is no need for the decision convicting an accused to expressly impose this accessory penalty, as it is the law itself that does.

Well, for now, we just have to wait for the Supreme Court to give the final answer.

I just hope that “Round 3” of this legal battle will happen before it becomes totally irrelevant to the other presidential bets. Unless of course, the people will decide on Election Day to make the pending disqualification cases moot and academic by electing a candidate without a pending disqualification case. Abangan!

RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE

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