Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s statement that she would stop investigating the corruption charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay only if the President or the Ombudsman would order her to stop was a loaded one.
The charges that are also being tackled in the hearings of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee have put on the defensive the Binay family members who have alternately ruled Makati for almost three decades. The whistle-blowers are coming out of their comfort zones and revealing in the hearings what they know. The corruption charges are grave and jaw-dropping.
Intent on pursuing the case, De Lima dropped a double entendre. Triple, maybe?
Her statement could be interpreted to simply mean that, yes, she follows presidential orders and that is all there is to it.
But she could also have been saying something loudly in a soft voice, so to speak, that: “No way, on my own, am I going to stop investigating. Only the President and the Ombudsman will stop the Department of Justice from investigating.”
Triple entendre if by that statement she meant that if we see her stop, we know who stopped her. To say it more grandly, we would know by whose power she was stopped. Then she can look us in the eye and, with arms folded, say, “Wala akong magawa. There was nothing I could do.”
Then it would be up to us to speculate why. In short, she was jumping the gun. In street lingo, inunahan na niya. Something similar to what a person with the goods says if his or her life is threatened. If I get killed, you know who did it, nothing will stop me from spilling the beans, or something to that effect. A do-or-die declaration.
To borrow a line from a hit song, “Nothing’s gonna stop us now.”
I think what De Lima said was a well-crafted one-liner meant to stop anyone who will stand in the way. And, without her meaning to, that includes the President. Not so much the Office of the Ombudsman, which can initiate its own investigation. But if the Ombudsman stops De Lima, she might even feel relieved that a heavy weight is taken off her shoulders and the investigation can proceed in another turf.
What she said was also for those of us who wish her well in her quest for the truth.
I wouldn’t call De Lima’s statement a veiled threat. It’s more like a challenge, a dare. Her statement sounded—or she made it sound—like a matter-of-fact acceptance of the way things are. But she also made it known that the buck stops somewhere.
But the President stopping her, for the simple reason that she should stop, or with no explanation, is another story. Unless it is to let the Ombudsman take over. Still, with De Lima so resolved to get to the bottom of the serious allegations against Binay, why even stop her? Unless…
The latest we heard is that President Aquino has “slammed the door” on VP Binay’s request that he intervene in separate investigations by the Senate and the DOJ. An Inquirer news report said Binay made his appeal during his meeting last week with the President at Bahay Pangarap, the presidential residence. Binay reportedly asked the President to talk to his allies in the Senate. President Aquino confirmed Binay’s request that the DOJ stop its own investigation of his reported 350-hectare property in Batangas.
Is Binay more afraid of the DOJ than he is of the Senate, whose invitations to the hearings he continues to ignore? Binay has been pooh-poohing the revelations and evidence presented in the Senate by simply telling crowds that these were all fabricated and politically motivated. But what has he shown so far to protest his innocence?
The Senate hearings are spearheaded by the President’s allies—Senators Aquilino Pimentel III, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV. Can the President really stop them?
The President’s words to Binay during their meeting that lasted two hours: “I can assure you that you will have all your rights and due processes. We will not countenance anybody manufacturing evidence against you. We will try to keep all the processes on a very professional level.”
The President stressed that the primary task of investigating belongs to the Ombudsman, with the DOJ assisting.
In the transcript of his remarks in Leyte given to Manila reporters, the President said: “At the end of the day, I told him that the truth will come out, and between the two of us, you will know what the truth is, so you will know what will be coming out.”
Well, it seems the President’s words, like the justice secretary’s, are also loaded with meaning. It is up to us to read between the lines.
That last one is quite telling. There is nothing the President can do about the truth that will come out, that is, if the entire truth will come out. “And between the two of us…” could mean that no matter what comes out, there is the real truth that Binay—and the President—know, and that there is no way to prevent it from being revealed, and proven to be true.
That all he can do is assure Binay of all his rights and due process. “We will not countenance anybody manufacturing evidence against you. We will try to keep all the processes on a very professional level.” With all these safeguards in place, what should an innocent man fear? But the guilty will shake in his pants.
Is President Aquino also telling Binay in so many words that as far as these mind-boggling cases are concerned, he is on his own? Binay, the overstaying prez of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (first elected 20 years ago) better know the importance of the scouts’ famous motto: “Be prepared.”
Some observers are saying that not all is lost for Binay. There are always the presidential sisters he can run to.
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