Reader, the past seven days produced a triple whammy (defined as an event with a powerful and unpleasant effect), which left yours truly, and I think most right-thinking Filipinos, reeling against the ropes.
The first whammy came on Nov. 5, with the news that Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, had been killed while he was in jail. By more than a dozen policemen and officers of Region 8 CIDG. In the early hours of the morning.
Why a whammy? Because the incident was so blatantly an extrajudicial killing, perpetrated by the police. The cops who killed Espinosa arrived at the jail at around 4 a.m., “to serve a search warrant” on him. They broke police protocol, to the extent of breaking into the jail and treating the jail guards like prisoners (the guards had refused to let them in). None of the guards were present when Espinosa was killed. The photos taken after the incident by the police and by the Soco (scene of the crime operatives) clearly differed from each other. And the cover story was so flimsy it was evident that the police were confident that they would get away with it.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, no stranger to EJKs, pronounced it as clearly “premeditated.” But what is chilling is that Espinosa, or so I thought, had been assured of safety by PNP chief Roland “Bato” dela Rosa himself. Remember his much-publicized surrender to Bato in Camp Crame last August?
Come the questions: If the police aren’t in fear of Dela Rosa, who do they answer to? The big drug lords? Or is this a moro-moro? What about the judge who signed the search warrant—was he so dumb that he hadn’t heard of Espinosa’s incarceration? Why should a warrant be issued to search a man in a prison cell? And why is President Duterte quick to take the side of the police without even an investigation? Where does that leave us law-abiding Filipinos?
The second whammy was delivered on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court decided, 9-5, to allow the burial of Ferdinand Marcos’ remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. I was expecting a 7-7 decision, but a 9-5? It was incredible. I had to read the decisions and the dissents posted after a delay. The ponente was Justice Diosdado Peralta, with two concurring opinions (Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Arturo Brion) and two separate opinions (Justices Jose Perez and Jose Mendoza). The four dissenting opinions were written by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior AJ Antonio Carpio, and AJs Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa.
The ponencia asserted that the case was not even justiciable, and all the other little details—remember the saying about getting so involved in the trees that you forget there’s a forest? That’s what comes to mind when reading Peralta’s ponencia. He was so bent on the trees that he even added the phrase “active military,” as in “He was neither convicted by final judgment of the offense involving moral turpitude nor dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from active military service.” I don’t recall the disqualifications containing the phrase. I guess he wanted to make sure that Marcos does not fall under “dishonorably discharged” commander in chief.
I don’t expect people to read all the opinions. The ponencia and one dissenting opinion will do; the 11-page Carpio dissent says it all. The pros outnumber the cons. But in the eyes of history, the quality of the dissenting opinions will stand out. That’s small comfort. My heart is still broken by the Supreme Court’s betrayal of the country’s trust, as it did in 1972, when it declared that martial law was a political decision, and that the judiciary should not interfere.
The third whammy that hit me was Donald Trump’s victory. That was totally unexpected. Why a whammy? We all watched the debates and saw that he was a tax evader, a sexual predator, and didn’t even have any plans backing his promises. Plus he employed the hate campaign that Joe McCarthy used against the communists way back when. Hillary Clinton won hands down.
One explanation by the pollsters of why they were wrong was that Americans were too ashamed to admit that they were voting for Trump. Well, they should be.
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