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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maleficent/magnificent eagle or lion?



PREZ Cory had a friendly Supreme Court and was chief executive and sole lawmaker for more than a year. The 1987 Congress wasn’t unfriendly, either. She was the world’s darling, at Edsa ‘86.
PNoy inherited an arguably unfriendly SC and a Congress full of critics. He hasn’t had it easy. From all indications, darling is not in the cards, like marriage (?), for him.
He thinks out of the box. He got Chief Justice Rene Corona—unconstitutionally installed by GMA during an interdicted, caretaker, lame-duck-dead-duck period—ousted. He had some previous Untouchables jailed, like GMA and JPE (for whom I argue for house arrest on humanitarian grounds).
Not bad for one dismissed as a naif, weakie or pipitsugin.
He has in fact validated and shown that the Prez “is not a Gulliver immobilized by ten thousand tiny cords, nor even a Prometheus chained to a rock of frustration. He is, rather, a kind of magnificent lion who can roam widely and do great deeds so long as he does not try to break loose from his broad reservation. Our pluralistic system of restraints is designed to keep him from going out of bounds, not to paralyze him in the field that has been reserved for his use. He will feel few checks upon his power if he uses that power as he should. This may well be the final definition of the strong and successful President: the one who knows just how far he can go in the direction he wants to go. If he cannot judge the limit of his power, he cannot call upon its strength. If he cannot sense the possible, he will exhaust himself attempting the impossible. The power of the presidency moves like a mighty host only with the grain of morality and liberty.” Clinton Rossiter.
PNoy can roooaaar or fly high, subject only to the Constitution.
PNoy, a Maleficent/Magnificent Lion or Eagle — if you will — does not understand chain-of-command? I think the critics do not understand Rossiter’s edifying observation, and insist on a GMA formula that failed, spectacularly. And utterly. Ours is not a culture used to giving and accepting apologies.
I do not agree with the imposed limitations on the presidency which reminds me of the hyperbole we used during martial law: military intelligence is a contradiction in terms. The Prez may think out of the box, as FDR, JFK, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Dubya may have done in Pearl Harbor, Bay of Pigs, Iran, Beirut, Black Hawk Down and Iraq. They have answered to history.
Joker, Teddy Boy, Ching Escaler and I did not chain Prez Cory to an academic concept in advising her how to deal with the coups in her time. As in firing JPE one tense Sunday in October 1968. One Tough Cory’s instincts were very sound, we thought.
PNoy weathered those failed coup tries (and almost died in one).
As I told my late ever-loving wife, Dulce, in early December 1989, when Ed Araullo and I were about to leave for Arlegui, “if the President must go down, some of her friends must go down with her.” Unquestioning, as always, Dulce just hugged and gave me a St. Benedict medal.
Resign! was not heard.
We cannot dwell much longer on Mamasapano, an incident that has not merited attention elsewhere where troopers routinely kill or get killed. Somebody has to mind the store here while tourists, investors and donors come.
The patriotic Japanese widow of a journalist — not a trooper — beheaded by the ISIS, spoke not only in grief, sorrow and pain, but also in pride, fervor and glory. There must be more of the Spartan or Kamikaze in us and see Marwan’s termination with extreme prejudice as partial justice for the 16 Filipinos killed in the 9/11 attack.
PNoy has just helped millions of coco farmers. Leftist Bobby Tanada gives PNoy the benefit of the doubt here, but PNoy is just fated to be underestimated, like his Mom. The Extreme Left is something else for instance, which puzzles.
Another puzzler. In the case of Mayor JunJun, elected for three years, (unlike the four years of before), did the lawmakers really intend to have the Ombudsman nullify six months of his short term? There is no parity in citing the case of a local treasurer who may hold the post for decades. Prudential considerations suggest that in case of an elected local official, the suspension should be much shorter and so should the probe.
But a case I monitor, involving a bouncing check case in a Metro Manila Metropolitan Trial Court was set for hearing last March 16. Postponed and reset to March 14, 2016!
Again, I won’t comment on the merits of a case as it is sub judice and I continue not to know anything about the merits of JunJun’s case. Joker and I had only gone to the Senate because of the arrest episode, but not to tackle the case on the merits handled by other, able lawyers.
Decent defense? It must be a lawful and ethical defense allowed by the laws of the land, which sanctify the presumption of innocence, and mandate counsel to raise every possible defense. The defense of a coerced confession from a tortured accused may be indecent but it is constitutional.
The Rule of Law is not about decency but fairness: “It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed [in the Constitution].” United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 59 (1950).
The Binays may not look to critics like a nice team but we cannot let go such great themes.
And pity the ants while elephants quarrel. Kapakanang pambayan, di pansarile. Others, not self.
Not lions, not eagles, but only sharks, loan sharks, rejoice.

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