A Blessing In Disguise

Sometimes things happen for a reason.

The Supreme Court’s decision declaring the Truth Commission as unconstitutional could be one of those times.

As I wrote a few months back (“The Truth Commission: An Easy Way Out”), the Commission was the wrong vehicle at the wrong time in the wrong place. Despite its aura of omnipotence, it was a legal eunuch, a circumvention of the Ombudsman, like Namfrel to the Comelec a second opinion, a placebo, a chariot decked with moral ascendancy but no powers of prosecution.

As such it is best the Court exercised abortion and laid it to rest.

The Court deemed the Commission violated the Constitution’s equal rights provision in that, while ostensibly pursuing the truth, it sought to investigate only Ex-President Gloria and her cohorts when previous administrations are also culpable, if less so.

The Government has since backtracked saying the Commission was politically impartial and would take on all guilty parties, regardless of provenance. In focusing on Arroyo, it was, presumably, just working alphabetically.

Nice try.

My argument against the Commission is not on its mandate but that, even unborn, it failed in its primary purpose of bringing speedy justice. It was an easy way out, an excuse, bread and circus to the masses while providing no real redemption.

Only the Ombudsman has the authority to prosecute erring officials. Unfortunately, Merceditas Gutierrez was seen to be un-cooperative in investigating GMA & Co. The Commission, it was thought, would be an end run around this obstacle.

Well this end run just got stopped on its tracks.

I say rather than pussy-foot with wimpy solutions, the Administration should, if Gutierrez is the obstacle, take her straight on. If you are serious, Mr. President, take the gloves off. Investigate her taxes and life style, audit her performance for anomalies, drag the skeletons from her closet (threaten to take her kids away?) The powers of the Presidency -especially with a 79% approval rating -are so vast, nobody is untouchable.

Al Capone was jailed not for his nefarious crimes but for tax evasion.

As for the NGOs, file cases against the person until she is blue in the face, shame her family, picket her home 24/7.

What you don’t want to do is sulk.

What you don’t want to do is berate and belittle the SC Justices with innuendoes and slights that only expose your immaturity and the inadequacies of your legal position and your team. Take your hits with grace and move on. This is a game of adults.

The Supreme Court effectively said the Commission had too much political drum roll and not enough underlying thought. Starting at the SONA, the Commission was bandied by the Administration as the vehicle that will bring Gloria to her knees. It was virtuous, like wangwang it resonated with the people. It was expedient, it was arguably the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, sometimes being morally right is not enough.

Our system of government is built on laws infirm that they may be. There are processes that have to be followed, often bureaucratic, inconsistent and stultifying. But that is the nature of our imperfect world. It is termed democracy.

Democracy is designed to protect the community from one-sidedness be it from tyranny or from virtue. In this sense democracy, particularly in its Anglo-Saxon definition, can be unfair, frustrating, inefficient and paralytical. Witness what has happened to the Obama Government in the U.S. That, it is said, is the price of freedom.

To govern through this maze of democratic safeguards and restrictions, Administrations must be adroit, must do their homework. There, I suspect, is where the fault lies.

This Government believes that moral ascendancy and goodwill should trump all considerations (Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap). As long as it is virtuous, has the halo and, that most important of considerations, the approval rating; the Administration can wing it, be mediocre, and be mindless in its actions.

That is not how it happens. The earlier the Government figures this out the better for all of us.

What the Administration must do is work thorough and govern smart. This includes avoiding legal challenges when unnecessary, taking the back streets when the highways are clogged.

The public won’t mind. In fact, going back to the Truth Commission, I suspect this nation never really wanted such a body. What it wanted, secretly, was a lynch mob.

So, Mr. President, just do it.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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