POSTSCRIPT / November 22, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Finalize SET ruling on Poe’s citizenship

HOW does a losing petitioner compose a motion for reconsideration of an informal decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal rejecting his bid to disqualify Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares on the ground that she is not a natural-born Filipino as required by the Constitution?

While an SET vote of 5-4 rejecting Poe’s disqualification was leaked out last Tuesday by some of its senator-members, a formal decision embodying the majority position has not been issued. At that time, some members still had not even submitted their opinions.

The petitioner Rizalino David, a loser in the 2013 senatorial election that Poe topped, is under pressure to file an MR before the Commission on Elections finalizes on Dec. 10 the list of official candidates for inclusion in the May 2016 ballot.

Or David could abbreviate the process and save time by elevating the Poe case to the Supreme Court as soon as the SET promulgates an adverse decision.

Speedy resolution of the citizenship issue hounding Poe – aside from another question over her alleged lack of legal residence for a candidate for president – is crucial. Some parties might “freeze the ball” and try transforming  the legal issue into a political question.

Delay in SC ruling could moot issue

IF A FINAL decision of the SC is held up by dilatory tactics while the inexorable electoral process moves on, Poe could be elected president without the questions over her citizenship and legal residence being settled with finality.

With sympathy for Poe being generated by the disqualification cases against her, as indicated by surveys, she could win the 2016 presidential polls – if allowed to run.

In such a situation, her followers could invoke “vox populi, vox dei” and insist that with the people having spoken through the ballot, the legal questions over her citizenship and residence should be set aside as moot.

Again, it is important that a final SC decision on Poe’s qualifications as required by the Constitution be rendered before the votes are cast and counted in May 2016.

Meanwhile, where is the formal SET decision? Who is the one writing it from among the five senators (Loren Legarda, Tito Sotto, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar and Bam Aquino) who had voted for Poe’s being a natural-born Filipino?

NBP baggage weighs down De Lima

FORMER Justice Secretary Leila de Lima brought some baggage with her when she left the justice department to run for a Senate seat with the administration Liberal Party.

One question she has to answer is what happened to the personal effects worth millions confiscated from German Agojo, one of the inmates detained at the National Bilibid Prison when she raided the main prison compound last Dec. 15.

In a letter to the DoJ, Agojo said the items — which include expensive signature wrist watches like Rolex, Omega, Technomarine, jewelry and branded shoes — are not illegal or prohibited nor are they dangerous or the fruits of illicit commerce. They are, he added, normal items of everyday use.

How come they were summarily seized against the will of the owner? Despite repeated demands from Agojo and his family, De Lima refused to return them.

Another issue haunting De Lima is her failure to rid Bilibid of contraband, firearms and luxurious items like air conditioners and big television sets as evidenced by the recent raid conducted by new Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa in coordination with BuCor Director Ricardo Rainier Cruz III.

Some insiders deplored alleged favoritism under De Lima, citing the case of one J.B. Sebastian, a life-termer, who was left untouched despite his having the biggest, most luxurious “kubol” (private apartment) inside Bilibid. He even reportedly held a concert inside, complete with a full band and female dancers.

Of the detainees known as “Bilibid 19” who were transferred from Muntinlupa to the National Bureau of Investigation for alleged possession of firearms and drugs, only two have been charged, with minor offenses — one for alleged possession of three bullets, the other for possession of one-tenth gram of shabu.

 Cubao factory emits noxious smell

WHILE the Aquino administration seems unperturbed by the worsening air pollution in the national capital, many residents bothered by the noxious cloud hanging over the metropolis plead for action.

Among the readers complaining of intolerable pollution in their neighborhood is Boying de Jesus of Cubao, Quezon City. He voiced his concerns in an email:

“Reading your article on air monitoring by the DENR Environment Management Bureau, I recall an experience involving an air sampling by the EMB-NCR in our neighborhood on the environmental and health hazard by an industrial plant.

“A wood cabinet manufacturing plant in our residential area is emitting gaseous colorless pollutants from its spray painting. Noxious odor is carried to our houses. It is very irritating and causes health problems such as headache, irritation of the airways and eyes, and allergies.

“In February 2012 we complained to the EMB-NCR. On Aug. 18, 2014, EMB-NCR representatives came to our house informing me that they will conduct air sample testing. A monitoring machine was brought inside our house to test for pollutants.

“Test lasted one hour. The visit was unannounced and unscheduled. Had I known of the planned testing, I could have asked the assistance of an individual/group with technical knowhow to ensure that the tests are conducted properly.

“Is it the standard procedure to conduct air sampling from our house, and not from the premises of the manufacturer/factory? I did not witness the factory in full operation during the test. All the EMB-NCR representatives were inside the plant while I was in our house with their machine in operation.

“No result was given and we felt the test was conducted just to appease us that they are doing something on the 2½-year-old complaint.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 22, 2015)

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