A Wink For More Of The Same

by Juan L. Mercado

When  Manny  Pacquiao fights,  his country’s  army and  insurgents call a truce to watch, bannered  the Standard-Examiner of  Texas . Of  Paquiao’s last six opponents, only Ghana’s Joshua  Clottey went the distance. Once again, the  country is euphoric. Paquiao’s seven  titles is a world record.

The  First Gentleman  no longer  muscles his  way  into the  ring  for the victory  call.  He did that in  Pacman’s  earlier victories. The backlash  has been devastating.

Malacanang ads  on the President’s “achievements”  also haven’t  tried  to  bask in borrowed glory  from “Pacman” .This too  is  commendable. And we keep our fingers crossed this  decision  is maintained.  But desperate  PR flacks  can  still  undo this progress.

This country remains  one  of deferred hope. Paquiao’s  win will give a  brief  welcome respite from “an  endless reign of meaningless chaos” as Martin Luther King put it.

The murder of  31 journalists,  at one go, in Maguindanao, is  an example of  senseless anarchy. Searchers stumbled  across  Midland  Review’s Reynaldo Momay’s  dentures at  the massacre site, says  the  Center for Media Freedom. But in macabre body counts, that  won’t do for  a corpse. So, the Ampatuan town tally hasn’t risen to 32.

From 1986 to 2009, CMFR  lists  114 journalists  slain here.  Sixty one percent were killed in Mindanao. That, too,  is a world  record.

But  this  isn’t  one of  President Gloria Macapagal  Arroyo’s  publicized  “world class achievements”. Understandably, it’s ignored by  ads that  depict her  regime’s  legacy

“There’s a strange charm in the hope of a good legacy,” the author of Don  Quijote once mused.  They  can  reduce of  the sorrow of mortality. Indeed, the credibility of  those  ads  isn’t  set  solely by their claim, That’s also determined   by what  they evade

Legacy  propaganda excluded  another  “achievement”, namely: President  Arroyo created  more  local  government  units than Presidents Fidel  Ramos and Estrada combined.

“Under President Arroyo’s watch, (these LGUs ) were created or converted shortly before election periods,”. From  January 2001 to December 2006, she added  three provinces, 22 cities, 17 towns  plus 52 barangays.  

They  dip with little accountability into Internal Revenue  Allotments,  noted  “Evasive Candidates” ( PDI/ March 9 ). All too often, whoever controls  IRAs controls the only government there is.

Then,  there is the legacy  of  dictatorship.

After  Ferdinand Marcos fled,  rebels blew up his bust carved into  an  Ilocos hillside. In Paraguay,  people shattered  Gen. Alfredo Strossner’s  statute. Saddam  Hussien’s statue, in Iraq,  followed. Romania’s  Nicolae  Ceausecu and wife  Elena were executed  in Targoviste. And partisans strung Mussolini’s corpse on a clothesline.

“The  evil that men do lives after them,”   Shakepeapeare said  in his  1599 play “Julius Ceasar”  Hard-to-detect  legacies of authoritarianism  are grafted  into institutions, even habits.

Long after Generalissmo  Francisco  Franco’s dictatorship fell,  death certificates in Spain  never cited “bullet wounds”,  the newspaper El Pais  joshed. Engrained habits  opted  for  “internal hemorrhage”.

Has our Court of Appeals been trapped by this flaw?

Justice Portia Alino-Hormachuelos  and two associates  recently  exhumed  a legal  mummy from the ousted dictatorship: “Ilagan vs  Enrile”  Once a detainee is  charged, he may no longer question incarceration  through  a habeas corpus writ, it states.

Violations committed by the military were “cured” by this mummified precedent. That  kept the“Morong 43”  health workers imprisoned, despite admitted  infractions of  their civil liberties.

The search warrant named the wrong person  was among the  “healed violations”.  The 43  were denied counsel. Thus, the inquest proceedings were invalid. So was  the  information filed.

The “cure”proved  worse than the illness.

“[T]he use of force cannot make wrongs into right”, Justice  Normandie Pizarro dissented, “ An illegal search and seizure, as well as an irregular inquest,  can not ripen into a valid… ‘remedial’ or ‘curative’ information.

“We must free ourselves from the shackles of ‘curative informations, “’ Justice  Francisco Acosta wrote …”(That’d ) make every habeas corpus proceeding an exercise in futility, similar to salt that had lost its taste…The court“desert[ed] its duty as guardian of civil liberties…”

A  Supreme Court  challenge  will  be mounted against the farce of “remedial information”. .This  is  essential. Otherwise,  lower  courts, plus  some  would-be caudillos,  will  see the Court of Appeals decision  as a wink  for more-of-the-same.

The  communists and their multiple fronts try to tar the military  as “abusive”. Denial  is one knee-jerk reaction by our gentlemen in uniform.   Another is   to  fight  with  fire –and resort  to constitutional shortcuts. But the only response  a democracy allows  is reform.

“Concerns about impunity persisted. Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture.

“Disappearances occurred, and arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common….Corruption was endemic…. Leftist and human rights activists often were subject to harassment by local security forces”.

That is not “agitprop”. Those  quotes come  from the Philippine country  report in the  US  State Department’s  report on human rights.  Would  our  Court have embraced  the legacy  of “curative information”, with the same  ardor,   if they noted  these harsh  realities?


(Email: juanlmercado@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

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