As you sow, so shall you reap

Sunday September 03, 2017 ()
Leila de Lima

Incarcerated Senator Leila de Lima blamed the impeachment complaint gaining traction against Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno as having merely reflected the desire of President Duterte to boot out the Supreme Court head as well as Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, an observation which is rather keen.

Of course there are some sinister undertones in de Lima's statement considering that she is also blaming Duterte for her current predicament.

De Lima's faculties, however, are badly seared by the fear that she is now getting a dose of the brand of selective justice which she was part of during the previous administration.

Noynoy's yellow mouthpiece Edwin Lacierda called de Lima, Carpio-Morales and then Commission on Audit Chairman Grace Pulido Tan as the "3 Furies."

According to Greek legend, the mythical beings were symbols of vengeance which is what the previous administration of Noynoy was known for.

The most notable achievement of the trio was to act in concert to hound the political opponents of Noynoy while shielding his allies.

The "Furies" were instrumental in handing to Noynoy his political trophies who are former President Gloria Arroyo who was detained for almost entire stretch of Noynoy's six-year term on a string of charges none of which was proven in court; former Chief Justice Renato Corona who was ousted after an impeachment trial and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who was pressured to resign and resulted in Morales replacing her.

The biggest haul as a result of the Furies' selective justice was the persecution of opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. who were made to answer for the Palace-scripted P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Now, Sereno is facing impeachment charges similar to those that ousted her predecessor, which is the untruthful declarations in her Statement of Assets Liabilities net worth (SALN).

The impeachment complaint alleged that Sereno failed to include in her initial SALN the P37 million lawyer's fees from the Philippine government as part of a team of local private lawyers in the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. case.

On the part of Corona, the more contentious issue were his dollar accounts, the information which was allegedly withheld in his SALN.

The allegations on Corona in being remiss on his SALN declarations was a good example of how selective political persecution can be introduced by giving the government excessive police powers.

The argument raised during the impeachment trial was the Foreign Currency Deposit Act and the bank secrecy law in general render the SALN law and the constitutional provisions on full disclosure of assets, liabilities and net worth useless since "corrupt public officials can open dollar accounts and co-mingle peso accounts with their relatives to justify the filing of SALNs that are completely and totally inaccurate."

Up to now, however, no proof has been established on the alleged hidden or undeclared wealth of Corona and the bank secrecy law remains in force.

Corona was removed from office after a vote of 20-3 on his guilt in the second impeachment article which was his failure to truthfully declare his SALN.

The Senate vote was suspected to have been influenced by the Palace after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed in a privilege speech that senator-judges of the impeachment court who voted to convict Corona were given P50 million or more in "incentives" in the form of pork barrel.

Estrada said they were informed of the allocation through a confidential letter from then Senate President Franklin Drilon, the chief ally of Noynoy and key Liberal Party official who was Senate finance committee chairman when the letters were issued. Drilon confirmed the release of the funds saying that it was part of the yearly PDAF allocations for senators but Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad later confirmed that some P1.07 billion was distributed to senators who voted to convict Corona and that two senators who voted to acquit him, Senators Bongbong Marcos and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, did not receive anything.

Abad conceded that the amount came from the Palace through the Disbursement Acceleration Program which was supposedly Noynoy's economic stimulus fund.

Leila should, in her time of reflection, ponder on the phrase "as you sow, so shall you reap."

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