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Analysis

Inside story of Roxas’ hijacking of Revilla

/ 03:51 AM January 27, 2014

The expectations of most Filipinos that they would benefit from the high economic growth claimed by the Aquino administration have plunged during the previous 12 months, according to a Pulse Asia survey last December.

The survey showed 55 percent of Filipinos polled said the quality of life deteriorated in the past 12 months, while only 36 percent said the condition remained unchanged, indicating that the benefits of economic expansion have not trickled down to the majority of the population.

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Worse, the respondents also expected their condition to remain the same for the whole of 2014, reflecting a pessimistic national outlook for a better life and rising skepticism over the ability of the administration to alleviate poverty and close the vast income gap between the rich and the poor. The survey figures last month differed significantly from those reported in March 2013.

Last March, 48 percent of Filipinos saw no change in the national quality of life in the previous 12 months, 30 percent said it deteriorated, and only 23 percent noted an improvement.

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These results revealed a large spawning ground for malcontents that can fuel political unrest and instability and erode deeper the administration’s trust and satisfaction ratings, reducing Mr. Aquino to a lame-duck President in the remaining less than three years of his term.

Pessimistic outlook

The pessimistic outlook followed a Pulse Asia survey thtat showed that the President’s approval rating plunged to 73 points from 79 in the third quarter of 2013, while his trust rating fell to 74 in December from 76 points in September.

More humiliating and demoralizing to the administration was the finding that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s approval rating rose to 80 percent in December from 77 percent in September and his trust rating increased to 77 percent from 74 percent in the third quarter.

Since the third quarter, the poll surveys have gutted the President’s popularity, indicating that it was on the way down.

He has now entered a season of discontent, which could be reversed not only by dramatic initiatives but also by heavy doses of propaganda and lectures of pseudo-morality ringing from his “daang matuwid” (righteous path) platitudes and persecuting his political enemies.

The Pulse Asia survey was conducted amid developments under which the administration came following widespread criticisms for its slow response to delivering relief services to thousands of survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda, which devastated Eastern Visayas last November.

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Among other events over that the administration received a barrage of criticism was the controversy over the use of the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) as a source of pork barrel fund to reward senators who voted for the conviction of then Chief Justice Renato Corona for dishonesty in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Under fire from Revilla

The President has also come under heavy fire recently from Sen. Ramon Revillla Jr. who, in a privilege speech, denounced him for interfering with or subverting the process of the Senate acting as a tribunal trying impeachment charges against Corona.

Revilla lambasted the Aquino administration for plotting to undermine the opposition in the 2016 presidential election by linking him to the alleged scam in the distribution of P10-billion congressional pork barrel fund, intended for local public works projects but transferred to nongovernment organizations, particularly those belonging to a syndicate operated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, which served as conduits, for its distribution.

Senators have authorized the transfer of their pork barrel allocations to Napoles’ syndicate, allegedly in exchange for kickbacks.

Revilla is one of the respondents in the plunder case filed in the Office of the Ombudsman. Also named in the complaint were Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, and 34 other officials. Revilla has denied involvement in the racket.

More important than Revilla’s involvement in the scam was his speech that raised the fundamental issue of the President’s meddling in the impeachment trial and its implications on the fairness and the integrity of the trial as well as miscarriage of justice.

The value of his speech was its revelations of the conspiratorial circumstances surrounding the administration’s attempts to influence the senators’ individual votes on the impeachment of Corona. Revilla made a point of the fundamental issue: “Is it right for the President of the Republic to interfere with a legal process that is supposed to be independent?”

Cloak-and-dagger moves

Revilla’s speech revealed the clandestine manner in which the President attempted to influence the senator-jurors in their decision in the Corona trial.

Revilla disclosed that he was virtually hijacked by the then Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas and driven to the President’s residence in the Malacañang compound from the Cubao, Quezon City, home of the Araneta-Roxas family in the midst of the Corona trial. Revilla said he had breakfast with the President, Roxas and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr.

“Mar Roxas led the discussion on why Chief Justice Corona should be impeached. Then before we were done, I was surprised by what the President told me. ‘Pare (pal), be considerate. Do it as a gesture of goodwill. He should be impeached.’” Abad seconded, saying, “Let’s help each other, Senator.” (Source: official transcript of Revilla’s speech.)

The cloak-and-dagger movements of Palace officials in the hijack of Revilla raised questions about the irregularity of the administration’s methods in meddling in the functions of supposedly independent bodies.

They also reveal a dangerous state of mind and blatant and cynical disrespect for rules governing the balance of power in the relationship between the executive department and constitutionally protected independent institutions.

Alarmed by Palace statements downplaying the President’s attempt at influencing senators in the impeachment trial of Corona, former Sen. Joker Arroyo said in an interview that Mr. Aquino’s act set a precedent “because any trial should be independent.”

“The proposition advanced that it is altogether permissible for the President to inquire or discuss or even influence a senator in an ongoing impeachment trial where he sits as a judge is alarming because, among others, it would establish a menacing doctrine as a precedent,” Arroyo said.

If this is accepted, it will give the next President the idea that he or she could also meddle in an impeachment trial.

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TAGS: amando doronila, corona impeachment, opinion, Philippines
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