Posts Tagged ‘gloria macapagal arroyo’

pop goes the world: the corona-vela

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  15 December 2011, Thursday

The Corona-vela

The past two weeks we were talking about KC breaking up with Papa Piolo, in tears on television, and Mo spilling the beans about himself and Rhian, in tears on Youtube.

All this seems the stuff of telenovela – so dramatic and exaggerated. But a new narrative now bursts upon the Filipino consciousness – the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona by 188 members of Congress last December 12.

The 63-year-old Corona was appointed by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Supreme Court on 9 April 2002. On 12 May 2010, two days after the 2010 elections and only one month before the expiry of Arroyo’s term in office, she appointed him Chief Justice of the SC.

The Constitution of the Philippines bans appointments by a president two months before a presidential election and until the term expires on June 30.

Father Joaquin Bernas, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, in a January 2010 newspaper interview opined that it would be the next president after Arroyo who should appoint the next chief justice. Even with the constitutional provision requiring the President to appoint a new chief justice within 90 days after a vacancy, he said the new president would still have 45 days to decide after taking office on June 30.

Corona has recently come under fire for siding with Arroyo in various ways and frustrating the ends of justice in the cases the government has filed against her. Therefore his impeachment by 188 lawmakers, when only 95 would have sufficed.

The vast majority of Filipinos, like myself, are not lawyers. We do not know nor understand the ramifications of the law on this issue. So we require the guidance of those who are learned in the matter, scholars and practitioners of the law. But they, like the ordinary folk, differ in their interpretations.

Most public opinion goes either of two ways: one, that the government is morphing into a dictatorship, that they are undermining one of the three branches of government, that checks and balances are being eroded, that the Constitution itself is being threatened.

The other view is that no one is above the law, not even the judiciary. For it is illogical to maintain, as many of them do, that because they are judges they hold the final interpretation of the law, and can therefore do no wrong. No one is above the law, not even the law.

It seems to me that the latter perspective is the more logical and fair, as expressed in the statement of the University of the Philippines Law Student Government 2011-2012 (the whole text was posted on Facebook yesterday): “From the point-of-view of the Honorable Chief Justice, the efforts of the current administration, allegedly in concert with its allies in Congress, threaten the independence of the judiciary, and ultimately threaten our country’s democracy itself.

“We submit that it was the former President Arroyo who was in fact the greatest threat to the Judiciary’s independence in the past decade. It was the former President who was responsible for politicizing the High Court in the first place by her many appointments, his elevation to the Chief Justiceship being the most questionable.

“The fact also remains that there is a steady stream of recent decisions by the High Court has continuously blocked major attempts by the current government to pursue its platform of holding the past administration to account for its sins against the Filipino people.”

Yesterday, Corona hogged public attention with a speech, attended by court employees and officials who declared a court holiday to rally behind him. It’s a cultural trait, the drama and the hyperbole, the carefully studied move or action executed in public, accompanied by exaggerated emotion (to elicit pity) or a lack of it (to show grace under pressure).

Corona said, “Ako raw po ay isang midnight appointee. Dapat raw po, hindi ko tinanggap ang paghirang sa akin. Bakit po ba, para si Ginoong Aquino ang makapagtalaga ng kanyang sariling chief justice na hawak niya sa leeg? Mapapa-iling ka talaga.”

“Iling” is to shake one’s head in disbelief, or incredulity. Opo, CJ Corona, napapa-iling ako talaga. Because according to the Constitution, you are a midnight appointee – of Gloria Arroyo, who has a tight grip upon your neck, and who wanted her very own Chief Justice in the highest court in the land.

I am not a lawyer. I do not know Corona personally. So I look at his pictures to gain some sense of the man. His eyes are like raisins pushed into his doughy, well-fed face as he hogs public attention with his grandstanding speeches. I try to muster empathy and benefit-of-the-doubt. But it’s hard. If this were a telenovela and he was cast as the hero, di ito bebenta. Give me more KC, Mo, and Rhian.

So I focus on the facts. The situation is complex for all its legal and political implications. But it seems simple to me. His appointment was made improperly and in contravention of the highest law of the land. For that alone, Corona does not deserve to hold office. *** 

Image of CJ Corona here. Fr. Bernas here. UP LSG logo from their public Facebook Page.

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pop goes the world: much ado about gloria

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  24 November 2011, Thursday

Much Ado About Gloria

Was what was done to former president and current congressperson Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo right or wrong?

The debate continues to smolder, and because of its deep political significance has pushed other no less interesting topics to the side – the murder of Ramgen Revilla, the anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, the controversial victory of boxer-cum-lawmaker Manny Pacquiao over Juan Manuel Marquez, the dismal medal haul of the Philippine team in the SEA Games.

Having listened to and read various opinions on the subject, I’ve noticed that they tend to fall into two categories – “mercy” and “justice”.

The “mercy” side points to how frail and ill the former president looks in recent photographs and that she should have been allowed to leave the country for medical reasons, and that it’s a poor thing to beat someone when she’s down, and that her mugshots should not have been released to the media.

The “justice” side emphasizes the rule of law, that Macapagal-Arroyo should answer for the electoral sabotage committed during her time and that she apologized for. (Her flat, emotionless voice saying “I. Am. Sorry” for the “Hello, Garci” incident, without sounding at all sorry, is a stock sound effect of radio talk shows.)

If Macapagal-Arroyo believes herself innocent of any charges, then let her face her accusers with head held high (a posture she is forced to adopt anyway given the rigidity of her halo vest). If she is truly innocent, she need not leave the country right at the moment, since several specialists have opined that her condition is not life-threatening and that the Philippines has the equipment and expertise to care for her properly at this point.

Instead, the dramatic incident at the airport smacked of an escape try, exactly like Ramona Bautista’s red-veiled night flight. The timing was fishy, it was suspect. It was as if they had received a tip that there would be cases filed against her, thus the desperate attempt.

There is a definite sense of wrongness there – why did Macapagal-Arroyo try to leave the country so hurriedly that way, in that cloak-and-dagger fashion, with the props of the ambulances and the wheelchair?

Why, if she is so sick, was she wearing skinny leather pants and platforms when they tried to flee that night? Do you know how hard it is to get into leather pants, especially the skinny kind, when you’re well and healthy, let alone so ill that you’re wearing a halo vest that drastically limits mobility and your condition ostensibly so bad that you have to go abroad for medical attention? It makes you wonder if her mobility is all that compromised.

All these questions raise red flags. The entire thing seems contrived, and glaringly so to the discerning person. Macapagal-Arroyo and her camp should not be surprised at the lack of public support and sympathy for her, though intellectuals relish the debate on the matter.

That’s just my opinion, and everybody has one. In the end, I believe in the rule of law. Morality that is based on religion will differ among the various faiths with their constructed doctrines and dogmas; likewise, the standards of morality based on culture will differ from country to country. To be fair and just to all its residents, a nation should be founded upon secular law and it is this law that must be used to determine what is right or wrong.

In this case concerning the former president, as in all cases, let the law prevail. Let the judiciary be true to the spirit of their commitment to the people and to the nation and put what is right and fair above personal interest and utang na loob.  Let them bring out the truth in this case, apply the law to the former president as it has been applied to others, and show the world that the Philippines is a nation that hews to the law.

In the words of the prophet Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everlasting stream.”

* * * *

Award-winning writer Dr. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, director of the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House since 2010, revealed there will be a Christmas sale of their publications, the date and venue to be announced. UST-PH was named Publisher of the Year last November 12 at the 30th National Book Awards night at the National Museum. The award is given out yearly by the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board.

Among the eminent writers in their stable are National Artists for Literature Virgilio S. Almario and F. Sionil Jose, columnists and professors Krip Yuson, Dr. Jose Dalisay Jr., and Dr. Michael L.Tan,  and musician/writer Lourd de Veyra.

* * * *

The University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing has extended to November 29 the deadline of submission of applications to the 51st UP National Writers Workshop.

The workshop is for writers in mid-career and will be held in Baguio City in April 2012.

I had the privilege of becoming a workshop fellow last year and it was a transformative experience. The feedback from the panelists and fellows were helpful and inspiring, the workshop activities eye-opening, and the friendships forged during the week-long event heartwarming.

Another reason for the workshop’s continued success is its venue. Baguio City is cool, calm, and pleasant, and its art scene warm and nurturing, a positive atmosphere that encourages the blossoming of the artist in everyone. Baguio is not just the market, Good Shepherd, and Minesview Park. Do visit Mt. Cloud bookshop, Hill Station Café at Casa Vallejo, Namaste, the BenCab museum and its café at the basement, VOCAS, Ayuyang, Café by the Ruins, Choco-Late de Batirol at Camp John Hay, and the other interesting pockets of creative and culinary pleasure that the locals will be happy to show you.  *** 

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo image here. UST-PH logo here. 51st UP-NWW logo here.

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