Did Aquino gov’t take legal shortcuts again? (why Palace actions undermine what should be a legitimate cause)

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Socio-Political
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Recent revelations that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Anti-Money Laundering Council may have been involved in the leak of bank documents of Chief Justice Renato Corona are disturbing to say the least. According to the PSBank, who has a lot to lose by admitting it was the source of the leak, a source of the leakage may have been the audit conducted by BSP with the help from an AMLC expert.

While the Chief Justice has yet to satisfactorily explain the contents of his bank accounts (saying he will do so “in due time”, whatever the heck that means), Malacanang is exposing its fingerprints all over the impeachment drive.

The major players in the impeachment process, both the Chief Justice and the President, seem to have engaged in less than honest means in advancing their positions. In particular, the alleged involvement of the BSP and AMLC indicate that the prime movers of the impeachment in Malacanang may have taken some shortcuts in trying to secure evidence against Corona. The BSP and AMLC have as expected denied any involvement in any leak.

While we still believe Corona should be held accountable for his undeclared wealth and other misdeeds involving GMA, we cannot help but be troubled by the actions of the Executive. The shortcuts taken by the Palace can end up undermining crucial aspects of the case. Even if the AMLC and BSP deny that they are the source of the leak, the perception is that the Aquino government will use all means, even if questionable, to get its way. Even if the AMLC and BSP say that he audit happened before the impeachment trial (Sept-Nov 2011), we know that the removal of Corona was already being contemplated as early as 2010.

It appears also that those in the Palace believe that they can get away with almost anything just because their cause is “popular”. In the case of the watchlist order against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, many anti-GMA personalities and groups pointed out the concept of a watchlist order was problematic to say the least and that the proper way to prevent GMA from leaving the country was by filing a case in court against her. (Those critical of the watchlist order can recall how the same was used against people like Satur Ocampo who was prevented by the Arroyo regime from leaving the country on flimsy grounds.) The GMA watchlist seemed convenient (or necessary) since at the time, after nearly 500 days in office, Aquino still had no case filed in court against Arroyo.

It may be the same situation  in the case of the Chief Justice. While there may appear to be public support for the drive to make Corona accountable, the actions of the Executive and its allies– from the alleged legal shortcuts to ill-prepared prosecutors with tangled up stories– all threaten to undermine what should be a legitimate cause for accountability.

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