Letters to the Editor

What case against Noynoy?

/ 05:04 AM July 22, 2017

There is so much in what President Duterte says and does that I disagree with that I am surprised when I find myself in agreement with him, whose success I yearn for, as his success is everyone’s. No, there is no case against P-Noy on Mamasapano, as charged, with all due respect to the Ombudsman.

The front page of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald dated Nov. 30, 1941, headlined a possible Japanese strike somewhere in Asia or the South Pacific. Both were struck a week later.


Can one imagine Roosevelt being charged with usurpation or graft in the exercise of his power as commander in chief? This would suggest prosecuting and convicting him for having advance knowledge of Pearl Harbor (’41) and doing nothing about it, JFK for the Bay of Pigs (’62), Jimmy Carter for the botched Iran rescue try (’80), Ronald Reagan for Beirut, where 220 Marines were killed (’83), Bill Clinton for Black Hawk Down, with 18 casualties (’93), and the Bushes and Obama for the continuing Iraq/Syria debacle and bloodbath.

Maybe even President Duterte is liable for the Marawi friendly fire casualties? Unreasonable, from where I sit.


Presidential command responsibility is not criminal responsibility. But, “onli in da Pilipins” would it seem possible to charge a president for a judgment call within the ambit of his powers. No wonder Mr. Duterte calls the charges “silly.” He authorized the Marawi operation and/or has not done anything to stop it. A number of troopers have been killed by friendly fire. Would he be liable for it? Of course not.

When one enters the life of a combatant, he and his family are aware that any day he may come home in a box. He has a choice just to plant camote but chose admirably to take seriously our anthem ending with “ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.” Reckless imprudence would mean a probationable sentence at worst. Graft, not so. A violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (usurpation) is punishable by prision correccional. Probationable. Republic Act No. 3019, Sec. 3(a), anti-graft, nope, but bailable. It seems to me critics should thank, not impeach, the Ombudsman, for the antigraft case, unlike the Kenkoy reckless imprudence charge, is a nothing case. All offenses flying in the air are bailable. So, no detention for Noynoy a
la Senator Leila’s.

The Mamasapano 44 would appear to have been the most benefited by government and private sources. What about the grunts who get killed daily in combat all over? And victims of collateral damage?

Operation Exodus deep-sixed Marwan, a known international terrorist
and in that sense Mamasapano was a success, if not complete.

Usurpation? In a President’s vast plenitude of powers, were I chief executive and commander in chief, I might have asked that, among the death row convicts in Munti (convicts, not only suspended like Alan Purisima), why not invite 12 volunteers to go to Marawi to get the Mautes and if they survive, they would be pardoned? The Dirty Dozen could even be hailed as heroes.

Using the 2014 Philippine Political Law book of the Cruzes, Isagani and Carlo, pere et fils, I read to my class last July 15 in San Beda the following characterization by Clinton Rossiter on the scope of the powers of an American president who is “not a Gulliver immobilized by ten thousand tiny cords, nor even a Prometheus chained to a rock of frustration. He is, rather, a kind of magnificent lion who can roam widely and do great deeds so long as he does not try to break loose from his broad reservation. Our pluralistic system of restraints is designed to keep him from going out of bounds, not to paralyze him in the field that has been reserved for his use. He will feel few checks upon his power if he uses that power as he should. This may well be the final definition of the strong and successful President: the one who knows just far as he can go [here, to hunt Marwan] in the direction he wants to go. If he cannot judge the limits of his power, he cannot call upon its strength. If he cannot sense the possible, he will exhaust himself attempting the impossible. The power of the Presidency moves as a mighty host only with the grain of morality and liberty.”

No wonder JFK wanted the presidency, cuz “that is where the power is.”
Not true here?


To be fair, we may be in some gray area. The Mamasapano foray bagged Marwan, on whose head was $6 million.

Condemning Noynoy for Mamasapano may be like blaming FDR for Pearl Harbor. Fortunes of war. From the outside world, nothing about Mamasapano; heavily armed trained attackers got killed? Ho-hum.

For Mamasapano, Noynoy will answer to God and history (not to any court). And say, with Fidel Castro, “la historia me absolvera”—History will absolve me.

History will judge Noynoy for any decision he made within the scope of his duties, even if merely colorably within it. Infallibility of perfection is not a requirement of any president. No mortal can qualify otherwise.

R.A.V. SAGUISAG, Palanan, Makati City

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