POSTSCRIPT / March 11, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Aquino-Corona debate: ‘Ang aayaw ay duwag!’

GRAND DEBATE: With so many talking heads and ventriloquists butting in and muddling the discussion, it might be best for President Noynoy Aquino and Chief Justice Renato C. Corona themselves to do all the talking in a Grand Debate on the latter’s impeachment and related issues.

The major TV networks can co-produce the show. Revenue that may be raised could go to the favorite charities of the protagonists or, my choice, to educating out-of-school youths.

Last Friday morning, I re-posted on Twitter the idea: “We beg the big TV networks to organize a debate between PNoy & Corona, without their support staff. Ang aayaw sa kanila ay duwag!” (Who runs away is a coward!)

Soon the idea was echoing in various forums, including Facebook, with the line “Ang aayaw ay duwag!” catching the fancy of bloggers.

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WHY NOT: For most people used to being distracted from their misery, such a blockbuster debate is welcome. But many considerations argue against it:

* One of the parties may not accept the challenge to a high-profile debate, especially after it was said elsewhere that the protagonists, placed on even ground, must not be allowed their accustomed support staff and teleprompters.

* The issues are sub judice and should not be discussed outside the Senate impeachment court. But many people do not accept this excuse, because being sui generis, the trial is only akin to a criminal proceeding and is actually 99-percent a political duel.

* Although the nationally-broadcast debate will help the public decide who between the President and the Chief Justice is right on each issue, it will not resolve conclusively the question of Corona’s guilt or innocence pending before the Senate court, which is the primary forum.

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SAME SAUCE: But why the President and the Chief Justice themselves clashing on Mt. Olympus? Because, the reality is that — shorn of the smoke and mirrors and the host of lawyers, PR advisers, media lapdogs — the real war is between them.

On the sub judice rule, the President himself has no hesitation demonizing the Chief Justice when he feels like it. Firing back, the Chief Justice has embarked on his own media blitz to argue his innocence.

“What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Most people, it seems, do not really care if it is a goose or a gander as long as what is served is saucy enough for their palate.

It is amusing how Palace spokesmen and congressman-prosecutors hit Corona’s media offensive, but have no qualms resorting to the same routine to advance their case before the public.

In an interview over station dzRH, Corona asked: “Bakit pag sila ang nagsasalita, puede? Pag ako, hindi puede? Pag sila nahulihan ng fake DVD, puede, pero pag ibang tao hindi puede?” (How come when it’s them it’s OK, but with me it’s not?)

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FAMILY FEUD: So desperate is the prosecution after being forced to drop five of the eight charges that they are now trying to bring back to life a dead man who had been quoted saying something about Corona having pointed a gun to his head.

I am not a lawyer, so I do not know how the piece of paper said to have been signed by the dead can be used in the impeachment trial after the prosecution has rested its case.

Then there is sister Flory Basa, the nun auntie of the wife of Corona, who said they had a family corporation P34 million of whose assets Corona had deposited in the Philippine Savings Bank.

By prodding the nun to talk, the prosecution and their media mouthpieces may have inadvertently confirmed Corona’s claim that the P34 million was indeed not his and should therefore not be reported in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

“Inconsistent,” propagandists have been screaming, reporting that after Corona withdrew the P34 million, he deposited it back in PSB. Corona, who should know where he keeps the money, said it certainly is not with the PSB which he no longer trusts.

Since the prosecution has rested, where will sister Flory testify and for whom? It seems her statements will be useful only for propaganda outside the Senate.

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IRRELEVANT: While congressman-prosecutors have gone on vacation, overworked Palace spokesmen feel compelled to say something every time Corona turns, grunts or moves his jaw.

So we see the Palace jokers (we cannot tell if they are serious) suddenly challenging Corona to explain why he has many guns. Is possession of licensed firearms now an impeachable crime (but not for gun-toting presidential advisers anointed with presidential absolution)?

When it was reported that Corona’s wife may testify at the trial, the tireless Palace spokesman said that was a welcome move. What Malacañang thinks is entirely irrelevant. Why do they have to react to everything? To justify their fabulous allowances?

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STANDARD PRACTICE: The media are rife with reports of family members of congressmen and senators harnessed into the oust-Corona campaign having been appointed to choice government posts.

President Aquino has instituted a system of rewards for his loyalists and those in his inner KKK circle. The Palace calls it “Standard Practice,” akin to the “SOP” in some line departments when they award contracts.

Asked about a choice appointment for a family member, lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. asked in all innocence: “Walang masama sa pag-appoint ni PNoy sa aking kapamilya.”  (So what’s wrong with that?) And then, one wonders how the Palace will work out his father’s being cleared of pending graft charges.

We have heard so far only the side of the prosecution. It is too early to convict or clear Corona. Starting tomorrow, it will be the turn of the defense to present the side of the Chief Justice.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 11, 2012)

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