Belgica’s list: Who’s naughty or nice?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 2, 2020 - 12:00am

Congressmen and Congresswomen, you better watch out, you better not pout. Commissioner Greco Belgica is coming to town. He's making a list who's naughty or nice. And who are involved in graft, scams and anomalies. Better be sure your names are not there. But how do you know, he won't tell you who, nor publish it either.

Which tempts me to surmise, is this not a clever way to control the members of Congress? If you do not toe the line of the powers that be, it is easy to add your name in that mysterious list anyway. This has the same effect as the so-called narco list of Malacanang involving some local officials. If you are not with the majority coalition, or you persist in being in the opposition, it might be easy to make a hint that your name is in there and in a speech, your name can be mentioned. It also has the same chilling effect as the red tag list, which is one of the bones of contention in the petitions against the Anti-Terror Law. The problem is we have no way of verifying, how in the world were the listings done. What is the process, without due-process?

We are not prejudging the list prepared by Commissioner Belgica. We are only saying that it can be an effective weapon to silence the opposition. Of course, Greco is a decent and fine gentleman. He is a young achiever who studied in San Beda and obtained his post graduate degree in the University of California at Berkeley. He was elected councilor in Manila at age of 28, and during the time of President PNoy, he and other idealists filed a case asking the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the PDAF in what is now famously known as Belgica versus Ochoa, and a leading case in political law. Greco ran for senator with Manong Digong's party in 2016 and lost. When the post-election ban expired, the president tapped Greco as commissioner of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, or PACC.

Strictly speaking, that office, which was not created by legislative act, is a duplication of the functions of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission. I remember that the Truth Commission under PNoy, with retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr as head, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. If someone would question the existence of PACC, I doubt if it can survive the test of constitutionality. But no one dared. And so, let us just grant, for the sake of argument, that the PACC enjoys the presumption of regularity. Perhaps it should inform the nation on the process of making that scare list. How do names get included in that list? What are the criteria and the guiding principles?

I remember Steven Spielberg's famous epic movie The Schindler's List. Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist from Czechoslovakia came to Krakow, Poland and put up factories there. He was a top member of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party and so he was not persecuted. He wanted to save the Polish Jews and so, he and his wife Emilie made a list of about a thousand Jews they employed in the factories. The purpose was to save them from being sent to Hitler's dreaded concentration camps. The list was sent to Hitler saying that these people are Jewish but they should be saved because they were working to manufacture supplies and equipment to help Hitler's men in battles. Thus, the Hitler's list was a good list. I hope Belgica's list is also similarly motivated.

Whether it is for good or bad intention, members of Congress seem to be affected. Like the good A List by entertainment journalist James Ulne or the bad Hollywood's Blacklist, this list can make or unmake lives and careers. In the US, there is an infamous list of America's Most Wanted. Belgica's list is making some members of Congress face a chilly Christmas. He brandishes a list and refuses to reveal the names in it. This is one sure way to make our politicians have many sleepless nights. Well, I think some of them have reasons to be scared, anyway.

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