POSTSCRIPT / November 17, 2011 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noy wins round-1 of NAIA ‘patintero’

PATINTERO: It is distressing, at times pathetic, watching Lady Leila and Ate Glo playing “patintero” at the airport amid refurbishing works to remove the smell and feel of its being one of the world’s worst airline terminals.

The first skirmish was dominated by Lady Leila, the proxy player of President Noynoy Aquino whose father’s name Ninoy adorns the airport where the game of guts rages. In my score card, PNoy won that round because he was able to prevent the departure of wheelchair-bound Ate Glo.

Maybe Ate Glo should attempt in the second round to move the venue to the Clark airport that carries the name of her father Diosdado. A hometown decision will not sit well with the Yellow fans, but a victory is a victory. (Victory here means being able to fly out for fresh air and medical treatment.)

As of this writing, Ate Glo has sought medical asylum at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Fort Bonifacio.

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MEDALS & FRUITS: President Aquino should call Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to the Palace to award the feisty future senator a Medal of Valor for sticking her neck out for her boss obsessed with putting his most despised predecessor behind bars before Christmas.

De Lima has been operating with commendable force and focus, risking contempt citation and possible disbarment. As they say, damn the torpedoes.

At the same time, the Arroyos should send Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez a basket of fruits this Christmas for his staunch defense of the SC’s Temporary Restraining Order paving the legal ground for a departure of Ate Glo and Kuya Mike.

The Solicitor General has filed a motion for reconsideration of the TRO. The legal team of President Aquino wants to prevent the Arroyos’ departure until it is able to file a criminal case in court.

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JUST ONE CASE: This rushing about is uncharacteristic of the Aquino presidency famous for its laid-back slow-mo administrative and leadership style.

It is remarkable that after more than 500 days in office fired by an obsession to throw the past president into jail, and with its boast that it has tons of evidence, its army of researchers, investigators and lawyers has not been able to lift one complaint to a court docket.

Just one court case filed is enough to move the game from one of airport “patintero” to a formal joust in a court of law. Once a criminal case is filed, it would be easier to coax a judge to issue a hold order to nail down the Arroyos.

This has been a mystery: The administration is talking of a pile of charges ranging from plunder to election fraud to corruption, but not a single case has reached the court.

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SIT & WAIT: Now the Aquino administration is using its own failure as the reason why the Arroyos should not leave despite their constitutional right to travel and the presumption of innocence.

In effect the administration is saying that until it is able to file a proper court case, its targeted victims should just sit and wait. Is that fair?

If this line is followed, by the expedience of the administration not filing a court case, the person marked for prosecution or persecution can be made to wait indefinitely and prevented from leaving the country.

But why should any citizen be made to suffer for the laggard work habit of his tormentors in government?

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ARBITRARY: De Lima argues that if the Arroyos leave and thereafter the administration files a case in court, the accused may decide not to return to face the charges.

Of course there is that possibility — as it is also possible that the accused may return. It is a 50-50 probability, either way.

The government cannot toy with civil liberties, cannot arbitrarily deprive a citizen of his/her constitutional rights, on the basis merely of a possibility, a suspicion, a speculation that a citizen might go into hiding abroad.

It looks self-serving for the justice secretary to invoke her own department’s circular (DC-41, whose constitutionality is under question) to place persons on an administrative watch list that effectively bars their departure.

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ENFORCEABLE IMMEDIATELY: Standing by the High Court, Marquez pointed out that the TRO, which is open-ended (no expiry date) is not subject to a motion for reconsideration, but for instant implementation.

Some lawyers point out that what should be questioned is not the TRO itself, which is just interlocutory, but the main case on the constitutionality of DC-41 that allows in self-serving fashion the DoJ to authorize itself to issue Watch List and Hold Departure orders.

De Lima said Tuesday that she could not obey the TRO, because she had not filed a motion for its reconsideration and she could not file that MR because she had not received a copy of the TRO.

How could she dispute or prevent the enforcement of an order of the Supreme Court when, at that time, she had not even seen it? Will a critically ill patient have to wait for her?

Marquez said a TRO is enforceable as soon as it is issued, assuming all conditions imposed are already met, and need not wait till copies are received by impleaded parties.

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DIVINE POWERS: If only there were a statute or rules of court on it, De Lima, her boss Mr. Aquino and Health Secretary Enrique Ona could be accused of usurpation of Divine Powers.

To claim prescience or a divine foreknowledge that the Arroyos will go into hiding abroad and that Ms Arroyo is not in imminent danger of dying yet, is to claim godly powers.

That would be a quantum leap, from the airport “patintero” to the flaunting of divine powers.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 17, 2011)

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