Thursday, May 24, 2012

Force majeure or horse manure?

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

“Ano? Ano ba ’yan!” was a priest’s exclamation when I asked him what he thought of some Catholic bishops celebrating novena Masses at the Supreme Court, a sign of support for impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. The priest had just come from out of town and was not aware of what was going on in the last stretch of the impeachment trial.

Another priest texted me to say that he would not want Masses used to counter the novena Masses in the Supreme Court. None of that sort, he said, let them be. But when a simple Mass for Justice and Truth—and nothing but—was organized, he readily participated and even delivered an earth-moving homily.

Last Tuesday, while impeachment trial watchers and protagonists were eagerly waiting to listen to the Chief Justice, people I know were at prayer, begging God for the truth to prevail. Many of them were nuns, many of them from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary to which Sr. Flor Maria Basa belongs. Sister Flor Maria is a Basa heir who bravely came out to state her stand on the controversial Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc., which has figured in the impeachment trial (Inquirer, May 5 and 6).

While the impeached Chief Justice had high-profile novena Masses celebrated by some Catholic bishops and reportedly got support from personages from the Iglesia ni Cristo, somewhere, away from the noisy impeachment crowd, Catholic lay people, religious and priests had a simple, low-profile mass at the Baclaran Church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish) last Tuesday morning. The well-attended Mass did not banner support for any side—not for the defense, not for the prosecution—but for the Truth with a capital T. No color-themes, no pro or anti banners. Just beseeching the Almighty for an intervention for the Truth.

One of the eight concelebrating priests, Redemptorist Fr. Ben Moraleda, articulated what truth meant at this crucial hour. “There is no such thing as one truth for the rich and one truth for the poor, one for bishops and one of the priests, religious and lay people. It is not an abstract thing up there in the clouds. You cannot pay for truth, you cannot turn truth into a white lie. Truth is absolute.” When truth is manipulated, he said, “we will not be bystanders.”
Well, afternoon came and the Chief Justice delivered a three-hour statement with nary an interruption, had an oversupply of leniency from the court, then nonchalantly and rudely walked out without waiting to be excused. Days before, presiding Senator-judge Juan Ponce Enrile had repeatedly assured the defense that there will be no bastusan and that the Chief Justice will receive utmost respect. Well, the accommodating Enrile undeservedly got spit, s*it and kaning baboy on his face. Force majeure or horse manure? The senator-judges who have been usually shrill and over-bearing on children of a lesser God suddenly developed locked jaws, as if they had developed tetanus.
Scripted or not, the Chief Justice’s act should be a shocking prelude to the unraveling of the true nature of the man on the dock and, hopefully, of the truth. Methinks it was scripted, else why would a defense lawyer shake the Chief Justice’s hand while the latter was walking toward the exit door, as if saying, sige, go na. Didn’t the defense realize the wrongness of it all?

Will the Chief Justice be back for direct and cross examination? Is flight or invoking illness the better option? Lawyer and former Sen. Rene A.V. Saguisag said: “Kahit sa ano mang tupada, pag natyope ang manok ninyo, at ayaw nang lumaban, at lumipad, talo.” (In any cockfight, when your cock gets it, refuses to fight and flies away, you lose.)

As to the Chief Justice’s waiver for his bank accounts to be laid bare, but on the condition that 188 complainant-representatives and Sen. Franklin Drilon bare theirs, Saguisag said: “His waiver was Kenkoy. The 188 congressmen are not on trial. He might as well have said all senators and SC justices should also sign a waiver, setting an impossible condition. He knew it is not he alone who has secret bank accounts, which assets we did not exclude from Republic Act 6713. We would create a hole where a tank could go through.

“It is an insult to us who authored RA 6713 to exempt foreign currency accounts, to make us a haven of thieves, a role Switzerland gave up in 1986 in tribute to President Cory, and which, in time, turned over billions (of pesos) to us. A jaywalker cannot impose as a condition that all other jaywalkers be prosecuted…”

He gets arrested who gets caught.

Yesterday, Saguisag sent a letter to the Senate impeachment court on “a guest’s (here, the Chief Justice’s) misbehavior or misconduct in the Senate and a peer’s demeanor.

“The Chief Justice startled the nation by leaving without the courtesy of seeking leave to leave, SOP for anyone with breeding, common sense and some courtroom experience. Direct contempt of the purest kind…

“But, para wala na pong masabi, kindly institute a separate proceeding within your own jurisdictions to censure the Chief Justice as we try to teach the young breeding. He had attacked the Ombudsman, in personal terms, after summoning her, the prosecution, and the Basas by raising a totally unrelated issue…”

I am writing this column piece when the impeachment trial (yesterday’s) had just resumed. With the Chief Justice still in hospital, there were no direct and cross-examinations. Questions: He had prepared to vigorously surprise the judges and the nation last Monday with a three-hour statement and privileged mudslinging in court (with no proofs to back up his claims), why didn’t he eat lunch? Being diabetic, he knew his sugar level could suddenly shoot down, why didn’t he ask for a sugar drink beforehand? Was he priming himself for a hospital stay?