POSTSCRIPT / July 3, 2014 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Good Faith: SC tack for acquitting felons

SAY SORRY?: As a good Christian, the least that President Noynoy Aquino can do is to humble himself and tell the people “I’m sorry” for having disbursed billions in public funds in violation of the Constitution.

The President, admitting an error, will not be impeached anyway by a Congress dominated by his co-conspirators in the raiding of pork barrel funds from the Priority Development Priority Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

The PDAF (legislative pork in the budget) and the DAP (presidential pork outside the budget) have been struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

If saying sorry is the LEAST the President can do, the MOST he must do is to work out the return of the billions that have been illegally disbursed under the PDAF and the DAP. (Somebody authoritative should tell us the staggering total amount stolen that must be returned.)

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THUNDERBOLTS: President Aquino is lucky we have a Supreme Court whose unique brand of justice is tempered with mercy.

It may not even be mercy but anxiety, considering that many justices — humans who are not untainted by the original sin of dishonesty — must have been sufficiently intimidated by a President hurling anti-corruption thunderbolts.

It is odd that without being asked to rule on the guilt or innocence of the President and/or his subalterns, the tribunal went out of its way to insert a kind of obiter dictum that the Chief Executive should not be blamed retroactively for his past DAP indiscretions.

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GOOD FAITH: In effect, the court begs taxpayers to please understand that the President’s violations of the Constitution were inadvertently committed in good faith, in regular official well-meaning fashion, and that they may be forgiven in a sweeping absolution.

The trembling tenor of the ponencia speaking for the justices is quite unusual. Some of the more skeptical among us might even say it is suspicious as it reads like an admission that those who are not without sin are unable to summon enough moral strength to cast the first stone.

What a convoluted way of saying “Damn it, we are all sinners so let’s stop pointing accusing fingers!”

(Why don’t we just then abolish the courts and fall back on the biblical admonition to not judge so as not to be judged?)

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APPLICATION: This newfangled application of the theory of good faith as an extenuating element is fraught with interesting possibilities.

A congressman accused of accepting a commission from a road contractor points out that actually he was offered 30 percent, but that, in good faith, he settled for just 10 percent so 15 meters of more concrete road could be built.

A bag snatcher is dragged to the police station and he tells the desk sergeant, “Boss, maawa na po kayo naghahanap lang po ako ng paraan para makabili ng gatas para sa aking nagugutom na baby (hikbi)”.

It may look like a scene snatched from Les Miserables, but it is actually an application on street level of the Supreme Court’s theory of Good Faith as it affects the morality of human acts.

Don’t be surprised if we would soon witness a flurry of “good faith” defense lines anchored on the Supreme Court ruling.

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IGNORANCE OF THE LAW: A great number of taxpayers find it hard to swallow the Supreme Court ruling that the constitutional violations involving DAP funds cannot be punished retroactively since they were official acts committed in good faith.

Precisely, the criminal acts have been committed, that is why they should be punished.

Is the court now a spokesman of the President that it presumes to know without being told that Mr. Aquino was not aware that he was violating the Constitution when he did? Or that the rule that ignorance of the law is no excuse does not apply to the President?

Pardon our saying it, but this is beginning to sound like a plea of insanity for the President – to which we vehemently object. Since the President did not enter a plea, the SC did it for him?

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CRIMINAL COLLISION: We are disturbed by the Supreme Court thinking that the off-budget cornering and spending of public funds in the DAP and the diversion from one department to another are unconstitutional only because of the SC ruling.

With due respect, we think that a violation was already committed at the instant of the collision between the questioned DAP acts and the provisions of the Constitution. It cannot be that the acts were all legal before the SC ruled on the anti-DAP petitions.

By this time, it may be obvious to some readers that this writer is not a lawyer. Still we join the crowd demanding that the perpetrators of the unconstitutional acts committed before the SC ruling be punished to the hilt and made to vomit the millions they have stolen.

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LONG LIVE MIRIAM!: We join the countless others expressing support and sympathy for Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago who announced yesterday that she has lung cancer.

Although her cancer is said to be stage-4, we have the uncanny feeling that the feisty Miriam will bounce back and overcome the creeping red cells.

By the way, in all the times she ran for senator, we voted for her, together with a mix of usually six bets.

Do not be surprised if she recovers from the deadly disease, gets a reprieve, and then runs for president! Assuming the doctors will give her a clean bill of health in 2016, she might just end up dominating the field.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 3, 2014)

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