The resident jesters of the Court of DU 30 made us laugh again

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Oscar P. Lagman

To Take A Stand

In the spirit of Christmas I will engulf you with the twisted yet funny web of comedic utterances of the resident jesters of DU 30’s Court.

For starters, there is PNP Chief Ronald “Bato dela Rosa admission in January, that he would rather be “a clown because clowns make people laugh.” That was in reaction to Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo’s comment that Dela Rosa has not inspired respect among the PNP officer corps and the rank and file because they look at him as a clown instead of being serious in his work.

Well, he said recently that “As far as I am concerned I brought back the trust and confidence of the people in the PNP.” That’s funny because in a hearing by a Senate committee, he cried unabashedly that much as he tried, he could not reform the PNP.

Then there is that usual articulation of twisted logic of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. When President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, Aguirre said it was necessary, adding that “Those who oppose the decision are doing so since they view it as an obstacle to their own agenda.” It is the other way around. Those who opposed the decision viewed martial law as the removal of the obstacles to the President’s personal agenda.

Another warped statement is that of Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque. In reaction to Senator Leila de Lima’s comment on his reminding the International Criminal Court to respect local legal processes, Roque said: “We should no longer give credence to anything that comes from de Lima as this is from a polluted source who was accused of drug trafficking by at least 13 witnesses.” It is the 13 witnesses who accused Senator De Lima of drug trafficking who are polluted witnesses as every one of them has been convicted of murder, kidnapping, rape, or other crimes involving moral turpitude.

When Supreme Court Justice Teresita de Castro appeared before the House Justice Committee, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said: “I enjoin everybody to ask relevant questions, and give her the respect according to the office.” Committee Chair Umali suggested that they “show deference to a Supreme Court associate justice by refraining from asking her questions that impute ulterior motives to her testimony.”

Yet, the two ranking officers of the House of Representatives showed no respect for the members of the Supreme Court, an equal branch of government, by asking some members to appear before them to explain the administrative process of the Court. What more brazen display of degradation of justices of the Court than requiring them to swear to tell the truth and the whole truth, not before God but before the ComSec (the committee’s secretary). Preposterous if not pathetic was the scene of Supreme Court justices swearing under oath before members of the House of Ill Repute.

As for Justice De Castro, during her testimony she asked rhetorically, “What kind of justice am I if I just accept what is happening that is not in accordance with the law?” That drew derisive laughter because during the time when Renato Corona was chief justice, she just accepted what Corona decided even if they were not in accordance with the law, such as the appointment of Renato Corona as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the breakup of the district of Camarines Sur into two, the dismissal of the disqualification complaint against Mikey Arroyo who was running for Congress as the candidate of the party list of tricycle drivers, the order to stop the impeachment proceedings against then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the flip-flop on the conversion into cities of 16 municipalities, and the creation of the province of Dinagat Islands.

Going back to Umali, he got irked by resource person Clerk of Court Felipa Anama’s evasive responses to a congressman’s line of questioning. He admonished her for being uncooperative. After the session, he told reporters that Anama cannot hide behind the cloak of confidentiality or anonymity in impeachment hearings.

That is the same Umali who in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona hid behind the cloak of anonymity.

In one session of the trial, he narrated that he was handed an envelope containing the bank records of Corona’s dollar deposits. When asked who handed him the envelope, he said a “small lady.” Pressed to identify her, Umali adamantly said all he knew was she was a “small lady.”

Another ludicrous statement is that of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. “The budget is a political tool to reward administration allies and punish political enemies. If you’re with us, then you get something. If you’re not with us, then you don’t get something.” That is the same Diokno who in his column in this paper constantly criticized President Benigno S. C. Aquino III for using the budget as a political tool, pontificating that combining politics with the distribution of funds is wasteful and bad governance.

There is another somersaulting court jester.

As the Senate began its deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, Senate President Koko Pimentel said: “I agree with the Minority Leader (Senator Franklin Drilon) that the supreme law is our Constitution. We have no choice but to follow the Constitution. That will be our primordial task … and all our energies will be geared towards making the measure constitutionally acceptable.” He added, “Lawmakers also are not expected to unknowingly pass an unconstitutional measure.”

Laugh out loud. When the resolution extending martial law in Mindanao was being deliberated on, Drilon said: “We cannot continuously place Mindanao under martial law… without an actual rebellion in the region. Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution states that martial law may only be extended ‘if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.’” The government declared the end of hostilities in Marawi City in October.

But as expected, Pimentel and his fellow lawmakers knowingly pass the unconstitutional resolution to extend martial law in Mindanao to the end of 2018.

Senator Richard Gordon would not be outdone by his fellow court jesters. Reacting to the bashing he got from netizens for monopolizing the interrogation of resource persons in the hearing on dengvaxia, he quipped, “The public’s reaction may have been due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of Senate proceedings.” Laugh out loud again.

The netizens have seen many televised investigations of various committees of both Houses of Congress to know that a resource person cannot ask questions, he can only answer questions asked of him by members of Congress. But the supposed know-it-all Gordon not only allowed a resource person to interrogate another resource person, he even allowed a non-resource person to read a statement that cast aspersion on President Aquino without any basis.

He even rebuffed Minority Leader Franklin Drilon when the latter told a resource person that it was his (Drilon’s) turn to ask questions as the resource person is not only not supposed to ask other resource persons questions, he had spoken more than enough. Gordon cut in, “I am still the chair of this Committee.” Who lacks knowledge of Senate proceedings and who is not dominating Senate hearings?

When the President said he might set up a revolutionary government, Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto said in a text message to reporters: “The President has information not available to us. He probably feels the country’s stability could be in jeopardy that’s why he is thinking of ways to protect it just in case.”

But the information had been made available to the public by the President himself and it is not the country’s stability that the President will protect with a revolutionary government, it is his hold on power. The President had categorically stated that he would declare a revolutionary government if his opponents try to topple him from power.

Well, that is Sotto, who in his rabid defense of whatever the President does and says comes up with unthinking remarks characteristic of Iskul Bukul graduates.

By the way, what could be the funniest statement of this year is President Duterte’s remark that, “Declaring a revolutionary government at this time is like looking for a headache.” Mr. Duterte had already found his headache when he sought the highest office of the land and won. He is at present constantly and immensely bothered by the grating noise raised by the Human Rights Commission, Liberal Party, Office of the Ombudsman, Inquirer, ABS-CBN, and now the Makabayan bloc. Declaring a revolutionary government would silence all those irksome noisemakers and relieve him of his headache.

Merry Christmas!


Oscar P. Lagman, Jr. is a member of Manindigan! a cause-oriented group of businessmen, professionals, and academics.