Perception, Not Justice

“WHERE is this all leading?” was the question everybody had in mind in a recent multicultural, multipolitical discussion. Janet Napoles in jail, Benhur Luy giving a Senate sneak preview of his court appearance and two truckloads of papers (15 boxes, 2,000 pages) dumped by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and her newly revamped National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ doorstep who in turn said that they’ll take as long as they need to sift through the pile.freedom-bird

One said it’s an opposition set up for 2016 elections. Another said all those who participated in the pork scam must fry. There was the belief that the Zamboanga siege by Nur Misuari and his Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) band was some kind of “Wag the Dog: diversion. Somebody thought the pizza was good. Still another said Pnoy should resign. The one beside me believed he should be impeached….

When they turned to me, all I could say was: all of the above.

Consider this: Here is a presidency elected on the “Daang Matuwid” brand… the anti corruption stand.

As a result, it goes out on the limb to take down his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, his symbol of everything he has been fighting against.

Then he went after the Commission on Elections, Ombudsman, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the military and police hierarchy and the Commission on Audit (COA), using the political system to get his people into these positions.

His “team” in place, he consolidated political support with the threat of pulling out of much needed political finance to incumbent legislators and officials and ensuring victory of allies in the last elections.

Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco detailed this when he testified in the impeachment trial against former Chief Justice Renato Corona — — how, using the threat of holding back funds releases to legislators, the administration was able to pressure members of congress to blindly sign the impeachment papers. Furthermore, he revealed that the congressmen learned their lesson earlier when, in the impeachment move against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, congressmen who held back their signatures were totally cut off from their funding requirements by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Of course, the Tiangco testimony was thrown out as irrelevant by the impeachment court. But then again, this was the Senate which was also part of the pork barrel system.

So Corona was kicked out is a highly political move. Nothing to do with the legal system. Now his woes are with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and its aggressive leader Kim Henares.

Next on the agenda, bring down the rest of his political opposition. And why, pray tell, should Pnoy care when his term is a fixed six years? Well, his Liberal Party has tasted blood and they like it. You have Franklin Drilon, who has finally ascended into the Senate Presidency (again, so he knows what fun it can be). Then there’s Butch Abad of DBM who has realized the overwhelming potential taking hold of government coffers. You have Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) who has controlled a key agency for modern day mass control and funds generation.

And you have Mar Roxas of the highly political and influential Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) who, aside from claiming historical and moral leadership of the LP lays a serious claim that Pnoy owes him big time for his stepping down to give way to the latter’s presidential candidacy and for losing the Vice Presidency by Pnoy’s coy and vacillating position on his opponent Jejomar Binay and the Noy-Bi campaign in the 2010 campaign.

Their problem is with what they have, they will not be able to go through the stringent requirements of the legal system… especially the Constitution. And they aren’t that sure either, even after the appointment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Morales. The independence of these women is worrisome for this LP syndicate.

That’s why the administration has resorted to whet it knows best: Public Relations – paying the perception game to build up mass support and manipulate the political and electoral processes.

Why is it indeed that a powerful and insightful legal mind like De Lima would resort to shenanigans to get what they want? First, Gloria Arroyo was stopped by De Lima’s immigration agents to leave the country despite the Supreme Court deciding that she can. ( De Lima claimed that she did not get a copy of the decision yet when Arroyo and her party got to the airport.

Then now she and her people create much fanfare, first about bringing the main whistleblower Benhur Luy to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee under strict security preparations (complete with bullet proof vests, armed NBI personnel and repeated statements on the Senate record from De Lima herself) .

Then about voluminous documents supposedly the “smoking gun” against the alleged perpetrators of the pork scam with 38 or so alleged participants brought to the Ombudsman, without De Lima’s own premier investigative agency digging deep into the contents or the veracity of these documents, leaving the Ombudsman to sift through the chaff and the grain.

Luy alleged the main source of all the documentary evidence was taken by him from a computer originally owned by Janet Napoles. That statement is not anough for a true court of law to  declare all if these as evidence, as I earlier noted:

Of course, it helps in any PR effort to have your media operations swinging through, like Secretary Ricky Carandang who has been an LP card-carrying member way before he officially joined the President’s communications machinery, while he was a key news anchor of the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). Along for the ride is underling Manolo Quezon and Spokespoeple Edwin Lacierda and Abigale Valte.

Media, always on the lookout for newspaper selling, viewership boosting and website clicking headlines feed on this. Just look at one purely skewed recent headline: Philippine Daily Inquirer’s: “3 senators amassed P581M in kickbacks; Napoles, 34 others also charged in pork scam”

“Charged?” That’s a long way down the road, but they take a very exact and specific legal term and loosely use it, just as Luy, De Lima and their lawyers use the term “evidence.”

If we are to believe the current Palace spin, the perception game is working as they report that the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey shows a record-breaking 75 percent satisfaction rating for Pnoy. (

But then again, this may well be part of the perception conditioning, if we are to believe former Senator Francisco Tatad who has time and again criticized the survey services in the country. (

No, the government does not want a speedy resolution to this and any of the so-called anti-corruption cases they are pursuing. They do want to manipulate public perception because, like the Arroyo cases, there is no assurance that nothing will come out of the cases. By using these are purely PR moves they kill 2 birds with one stone: 1) they condition minds in case their cases go south, and 2) they condition minds to keep the LP in power in the 2016 elections.

Administration of justice is the farthest from their minds, and in doing so they are messing about with the whole legal system. Something which former Senator and Human Rights lawyer Joker Arroyo warned about much earlier: “The Supreme Court has put a stop, put a brake on the totalitarian tendencies of this government. We already have a creeping martial law here that we don’t only notice.” (

So nothing is what it seems.

But yes, the pizza was good.

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