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Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball
Ronald Roy — 2013 January 29

The senate’s cash-gift scandal that has ripped across the nation brings to mind an ancient Japanese ritual: suicide by disembowelment with a samurai. Hara-kiri was practiced as an honorable alternative to disgrace or execution. Lest I be misunderstood, however, I am not recommending this gruesome act of evisceration to any of the Republic’s degraded senators, albeit their voluntary resignations should suffice to salvage whatever honor is left in each resigner’s case.
The trouble is: their resignations, depending on the number thereof, would decimate or render defunct their once august chamber—a situation that would be fatal to our democracy. But then, hmmm… wouldn’t such a scenario be a titillating idea for .Pres. Noynoy Aquino to “do a Marcos”, i.e., seize total power to “save the State”?
Well, texter # 7117, such a scenario, which is entirely possible if P-Noy’s dictatorial proclivities are any indication—would certainly be just as fatal, if not more lethal, to our still fledgling democracy.
The failure of Ferdinand E. Marcos’ one-man rule is the best argument against its repetition, his best intentions notwithstanding. As an obvious P-Noy supporter, texter #7117, you ought to be the first to shudder at rumored plans by leftist elements in his camp to extend his term beyond 2016. Rest assured that his quickest way to infamy would be his succumbing to the same irresistible ambition that bedevils most all rulers: the immortality of maddening power.
Anyway, getting back to the day the s**t hit the senate’s fan, I wish I had a crystal ball to predict the upper chamber’s future as well as that of its members. But I reiterate what I wrote three weeks ago that Senate President JPE ought to have resigned shortly after distributing public money in a way that breached the fiduciary relationship—a tie based on trust—between himself and the electorate that had given him a senate seat. In particular, I stressed that his ill-considered dole-out of people’s money to his colleagues was a grave abuse of authority, if not incompetence (for not knowing any better), and that either case would have warranted his voluntary resignation.
No, it was not a “class act” by the senate president, but a master stroke when, instead of resigning outright, he made a Motion to declare vacant his Office as Senate President, while knowing in advance that he had the numbers who would thumb down the Motion. Of course that vote of confidence may be withdrawn anytime, although it seems unlikely the change will come from colleagues who are all “in on this sordid affair together”—and there are a very great many of them.
The bottom line is: the majority have long been participating in this ignominious yearend cash-gift tradition, so that they wouldn’t dare oust JPE because doing so would rock the boat so badly that it would sink, virtually to their enormous individual prejudice and eternal disrepute. Likewise, I believe JPE is comfortable with the hunch that the Supreme Court will most likely keep its hands off this humongously embarrassing controversy, on the ground that the time-honored doctrine of Separation of Powers prevents it from meddling in a co-equal branch’s internal affairs.
At the same time, it may be noted that any Complaint would be clinically dead on arrival upon its filing with the senate’s ethics committee, for the simple reason that the solons will never undermine their raison d’être (reason for being). In any event, Evelyn (de la Torre), the senate’s self-destruction is evidently not the solution, and I believe that the wide-ranging audit being planned will enable the sovereign people to decide the fate of the institution as a whole.
At this point, one would think that JPE was riding so high on the crest of confidence that he announced the release of his new book “The Honor of the Senate: 44 days of an Impeachment Trial” showcasing the conviction by senators of former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.
In my opinion, however, his attempt to polish the senate’s tarnished image with his book might only boomerang, since the consensus among lawyers in the country was that, one: the impeachment trial was a trial by publicity, two: Corona was convicted for violation of the SALN Law, a non-impeachable offense, and three: numerous solons who prosecuted and convicted Corona would turn out to be violators of the SALN Law themselves. So, at this juncture, JPE would do well to stop rubbing people the wrong way by harping on his book while his house reels under the eye of a storm.
Yes, Evelyn, as far as I know, the disciplining authority over individual erring members would be the chamber’s ethics committee, while the disciplining authority over all of them as an institution would be the citizens behaving as the electorate.
Incidentally, although the planned audit can help identify specific cases of restitution in varying amounts of money, I don’t believe it can be aimed at determining criminal liabilities because I cannot see in the premises a single felony that might have been committed.
It truly hurts that the national honor has plunged to such a nadir never before imaginable in the history of both houses of congress. Oh, before we forget, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and his congressmen and party-list representatives are likewise known to have engaged in similar anomalous year-end cash-gift practices.
All these years, our solons—they whom the sovereign Filipino people have looked up to as moral guardians in the enactment of moral laws and, in particular, in the investigation of corrupt practices in aid of legislation—have been robbing the citizens blind! Shame!!
But rather than brood, let us heed Cicero’s encouragement: “To the sick (legislators and their system) while there is life there is hope.” And Evelyn, how I wish I had a crystal ball to predict the hour of this great miracle!
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