POSTSCRIPT / December 15, 2011 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Corona falls for trap to show him as biased

TRAP: It seems Chief Justice Renato Corona has fallen for the trap laid by President Noynoy Aquino to engage him in a tug-of-war for the public mind and thereby raise the issue of bias in the Supreme Court hearing cases involving Mr. Aquino, his clan and his administration.

The Chief Justice has come out fighting, delivering speeches against the President who has been at the forefront of a Malacañang campaign to destroy the credibility of the Supreme Court before it renders more unfavorable rulings.

The spectacle of the two big boys arguing legal issues in the marketplace of public opinion instead of in a court of law is unfortunate. The duel threatens the viability of our tripartite government.

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PUBLIC OPINON: If opinion polls are any indication, the Chief Justice is likely to lose in the battle for sympathy from a public that cannot appreciate the finer points of law. He is walking with eyes open into political minefield unfamiliar to him.

Mr. Aquino is succeeding in lending a political, also personal, color to big cases pending before the High Court. He can now argue that an angry Chief Justice should be disqualified from casting a vote on cases affecting him and his clan.

When his vote is not crucial, the Chief Justice can always inhibit himself, but his now personal grudge fight with the President could be exploited by the latter to smear the entire Court — which he is now doing.

As it is difficult separating the personality of the Chief from that of the entire tribunal, and since Mr. Aquino, in his tirades, no longer distinguishes between Corona and the Court, the institution will not be mere collateral damage but will suffer a direct hit.

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RAILROADED?: The railroading of the impeachment complaint in the House of Representatives last Monday was a blatant demonstration of the tyranny of numbers.

This is not surprising, considering that impeachment is a political game of numbers that has nothing to do with justice. But certainly there could have been a concession to sanity and decency.

Even with the fact that the 188 votes gathered to rush the complaint through the plenary was way above the one-third-vote (around 85 only) required to bypass the justice committee, there was unseemly haste.

Some conscience-stricken members of the majority have complained that they were herded for the mass signing of the papers without their reading the basic papers and studying the complaint.

When the Boss, who also controls the purse, gives the order, the rules of civility and fairness are thrown out the window.

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NO VERIFICATION: No wonder many lawyers, among them Romulo Macalintal, noted that the impeachment complaint may be assailed for being defective for lack of “proper verification,” something overlooked in the rush to send it to the Senate.

Based on reports, not each and every one of the 188 representatives who signed it stated that he/she “read the contents of the complaint and the allegations are true and correct of (their) own personal knowledge or based on authentic records.”

Macalintal said this is the form of verification required under the rules of court which applies to the House and Senate rules. He added that a statement that the complaint was “subscribed and sworn to” is not sufficient verification, making it an unverified complaint.

He recalled that this was the same issue raised in the unsuccessful impeachment of then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. where only two representatives who signed it were found to have proper verification.

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‘GAUDATE’ SUNDAY: With just 10 days to Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI offers pastoral advice on how to prepare ourselves for the Yuletide “not just with gifts but with our hearts.”

Celebrating mass last “Gaudate Sunday” (the joy of Sunday) in Casal Boccone, in the northern sector of Rome, the Holy Father reminded the faithful in his homily: “We must not lose contact with God in our hearts. If such contact exists then we have a reason to be joyful.”

After the mass, he talked briefly to the crowd about preparing for Christmas: “People have many commitments, but getting ready for Christmas does not only mean shopping and making preparations, it means being in contact with the Lord, going out to meet him. It is important not to forget this dimension… This is not an additional burden, but the power that enables us to do all we need to do.”

Upon returning to the Vatican, the Holy Father kept with a tradition for the third Sunday of Advent, blessing Santo Niño statuettes brought by children from local oratories. The images will be placed in our equivalent of the “belen” (nativity scenes) in homes, schools and parishes.

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VILLAR TREE: Talking of Christmas, the family of Sen. Manny Villar, who marked his birthday just the other day, has a unique Christmas tree made of materials woven from water hyacinths symbolizing happy family members wrapped in loving embrace.

The Villars’ Christmas tree is one of the popular entries in the Dusit Thani Manila project that gathers families from all walks of life to share values and accustomed Christmas traditions.

The hotel is inviting in-house and dining guests (as well as Facebook fans) to vote for (or “like”) the best Christmas tree entry. Voting is from Nov. 15 to Dec. 25.

The Villar tree, called “Water Hyacinth With 3 Sails,” was designed by Anthony Nazareno and his sister Rita. It depicts three sails (resembling a ship’s sails catching the wind) to represent the three children of Manny and Cynthia Villar. It is made out of water hyacinth hand-woven by the artisan S. C. Vizcarra.

The Villars have been supporting the cleaning of waterways. They use hyacinths plucked out of rivers as raw materials in livelihood projects such as those producing handmade paper.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 15, 2011)

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