Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Even the Good Milk Spoils

The Supreme Court has issued a Resolution providing guidelines for the upcoming hearing on the habeas corpus petition on behalf of arrested PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio. The Court identifies four issues:
1. Whether the publication of the Senate rules of procedure governing inquiries in aid of legislation is essential to effectivity and, if so, whether the rules have been published and if posting these on the Senate's website constitutes sufficient publication;

2. Whether the Senate committees on government corporations and public enterprises, and public services are vested with the power of contempt and can issue warrants of arrest;

3. If Section 4 (b) of Executive Order 1, or the PCCG charter, is constitutional; and

4. If the Senate Committee complied with the requirements set forth by the court in its ruling on Executive Order 464, the Malacañang order requiring government officials to get Presidential clearance before appearing before congressional inquiries.

In February, 1986 when Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order No. 1 creating the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) I bet she had no idea that the Commission would become part of the spoils of electoral victory for succeeding administrations--to be awarded to loyal political allies and supporters (snivelling and otherwise). Today, twenty years later, we see the truism that even the good milk spoils under the corruption of absolute power. We can see that corruption at work in the televised hubris of such persons Chairman Camilo Sabio and Commissioner Rick Abcede, GMA's appointees to the PCGG, who claim absolute immunity from accountability as public officers by quoting a provision in Cory's Executive Order:
(b) No member or staff of the commission shall be required to testify or produce evidence in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding concerning matters within its official cognizance.
As the first chairman of the PCGG, former Sen. Jovito Salonga stated the other day, the present-day members of the PCGG cannot use this provision to evade testifying before the Congress. But standing on this provision in Executive Order No. 1 --which was indubitably supervened after the plebiscite ratifying the 1987 Philippine Constitution -- and agreeing to force the issue in the Supreme Court via an habeas corpus petition, Chairman Camilo Sabio may see it all blow up in his prideful face. The venerable Joker Arroyo, an erstwhile ally of the President, will argue before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Senate, which is still holding Sabio under arrest and actively hunting down the other fugitive Commissioners. Early today, word is that at least two of the PCGG commissioners have sent surrender feelers to the Senate Sergeant at Arms. Offered his freedom from detention at the Senate Building infirmary in exchange for "his word of honor to return to the Senate hearings" Camilo "the Wise" Sabio has refused Gordon's offer, proclaiming that "Only the Supreme Court can set me free." Ha! Those could be Sabio's famous last words

Senator Dick Gordon deserves the public's support in the work being done by the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises in ferreting out the corruption within the PCGG itself, which over the years, has become a feeding trough for the political appointees. In the era of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the evil that Marcos did has not been undone. It has been rebooted in a Twilight Zone kind of program in which chest-thumping do-gooders like Sabio are actually masking a ghoulish operation of well, replundering the stolen loot!

Senator Gordon is quite right that the PCGG cannot hold itself above the law, above accountability and transparency on the part of public officers as the Constitution requires. It would reduce the Constitution to absurdity if the Supreme Court were to somehow rule that the provision cited by Sabio in Executive Order No. 1 is still in force!

IN AID OF LEGISLATION The most wanted PCGG fugitive is of course the aforementioned Commissioner Rick Abcede, recently become notorious for being caught on video dancing (waltzing) with Madame Imelda Marcos. Speaking on the phone on Strictly Politics with Pia Hontiveros last night on ANC television, Rick Abcede excuses that rather embarrassing episode by claiming that he, Rick Abcede, is a "leader who means business" -- he claims to be tired of the accusations against him, who after all, claims to have joined the PCGG last June, 2005 is "only trying to get the Marcos money back for the people." And "Why?" Rick Abcede asks, doesn't the Senate investigate the previous commissioners of the PCGG instead of the present members?"

Oink! Well, Abcede has been caught with his snout in the trunk of a brand new Toyota Camry as just one of the special, illegal perks being alleged by the Senate committee investigating the PCGG feeding trough, so he's gotta mean business. But the best he could do was to lamely trot out the argument that Gordon's committee hearings are not about some pending legislation, hoping to catch some wind from the "in aid of legislation arguments." On this point, Pia Hontiveros' other guest, Dean Raul Pangalangan jammed the ball back in Abcede's face with the observation that the Supreme Court rulings on the matter of EO 464 do not augur well for the PCGG's case before the Supreme Court.

Well, we shall see just how wise Camilo Sabio really is, or, if like Abcede, he's doomed to defeat on this one.



PCGG has outlived its usefulness, many pundits say. I would agree with them.

Why can't it just be disbanded? Is there a law that says it can't be?

Rizalist said...

Yup, that's exactly what Dick Gordon was saying: the hearings are in aid of new legislation to fix what needs fixing in the PCGG. But it's all caught up with the whole issue of the unrecovered Marcos wealth. Ironically, the 2 senators most active in going after the PCGG--Enrile and Gordon--were both Marcos supporters at some time in their past. The oral arguments on the habeas corpus case should be interesting.

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

Rizalist, frankly, I have lost faith in our Supreme Court. But their decision on this case might just restore it, if only partially.

Off-topic: I am wary about a military take-over. The generals as it is are already so MAYABANG AT NAGMAMALAKI. They are so happy that almost everybody says that no change in government is possible without them. I would rather wait for SOMETHING or SOMEBODY TO HAPPEN but BY THE PEOPLE, not by the MIlitary,rather BY THE PEOPLE. I dream about a SNAP ELECTION where all of us FILIPINOS will be given a chance to elect OUR PRESIDENT and OFFICIALS who will help him/her. I don't know how this can happen, but dreams do come true sometimes.

DJB, Do you reckon that the Supreme Court could make a Snap Election possible?

schumey said...

The PCGG has been the "milking cow" of this administration. They are even contemplating of selling the properties in Japan which we all know needs the entire nation's approval thru a referendum. Even the reparations for the Martial Law victims is being contested by the PCGG. The money the Swiss government turned over to us cannot be accounted. Clearly, the PCGG has outlived its usefulness. Its only useful to the current dispensation.

manuelbuencamino said...

Maybe the PCGG should be disbanded but before that happens I want to see the Senate roast Abcede. I want to hear him squeal but not in the Deliverance style. That will only leave Abcede squealing with pleasure and screaming for more. goddam swine queen



You've changed Philippine Commentary's layout.

Or could it be my own comp.

I do find it difficult to read your posts because one window (left column) systematically overlaps on the center column.

Is this normal?

Rizalist said...

Yup, the 3 column layout is all new this month. I've seen that problem you describe where the left column overlaps the middle column (where the posts are!).
Are you running Internet Explorer 5.0 ? If so, please upgrade to Internet Explorer V. 6.0 or better yet move over to FireFox. Hope that helps. The problem does not occur in V6. Let me know please. And thanks.

Amadeo said...


Your foreign readers may be at a disadvantage because I doubt many are familiar with open-source FireFox.

You must have done something because the problem has disappeared in the same PC that I use for the net.

For safety's sake, I continue to use Win98 SE, but IE is now V6 customized.

If I may add, the new format does require a great deal of mouse scrolling.

But overall, more power!

Marcus Aurelius said...

OT ito.

DJB, kilala mo si Jose Dalisay? Dito na siya sa Green Bay.

Hehehehe. Bumasa ko ang Daily Inquirer story you pointed out to me. It'll make good blog fodder for the Badger Blog Alliance. Salamat for the tip!