Tue. Sep 21st, 2021

The hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise today (Monday, 24 February 2020) has cemented the strongest argument for the abolition of the Senate.

The integrity of the Philippine Senate was irreparably damaged when on May 2012, twenty senators found Chief Justice Renato Corona guilty of “betraying the public trust and committing culpable violation of the Constitution.”

Only three (3) senators — Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr — voted to acquit Corona of the charges lodged against him by the House of Representatives on December 12, 2011.

The 16th vote — the minimum requirement for the Chief Justice’s conviction and removal from office — was delivered by Lakas Sen Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. In explaining his vote, Revilla said Corona failed to disclose his wealth in his statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) Revilla said.

Non-impeachable offense

Violation of one’s SALN had never been an impeachable offense in the Constitution, at least up to that point that the Senate ruled so making it a precedent. (Ironically, Corona’s replacement Maria Lourdes Sereno a few years after, fell into the same sword, by virtue of a quo warranto petition by the Solicitor-General, with her violation of the SALN law as the major convicting argument.)

The 20 senators who voted to convict Corona were: Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Frankin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Teofisto Guingona III, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Sergio Osmeña III, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ralph Recto, Ramon Revilla, Vicente Sotto III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Manuel Villar, and Senate President Enrile.

The three (3) senators who voted to acquit him cited three reasons: the impeachment process was not fair, it violated Corona’s basic rights, and his omissions in his SALN were not impeachable offenses.

In explaining his “not guilty” vote, Sen Arroyo described the impeachment against Corona as “political assassination.” Senator Santiago said she did not consider Corona’s failure to disclose his SALN an impeachable offense.

Senator Marcos shared the same view. “We may be faulted for erring on the side of conservatism. But what we are doing is redefining the relationship between branches of government, and when such great affairs of state are uncertain, the resulting instability puts every Filipino’s future in limbo.”

Corona is the first Philippine magistrate to be impeached and convicted, and his trial is the first of its kind to be concluded in Philippine history.

Bribes

A few months after, confirmation that a total of P1.06 billion in Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds was confirmed by the Department of Budget Management to have been distributed, ostensibly as bribes, to 19 out of 20 senators to convict the Chief Justice. These were:

1.Antonio Trillanes     (P50M) 
2. Manuel Villar     (P50M)
3. Ramon Revilla     (P50M)
4. Francis Pangilinan    (P30M)
5. Loren Legarda     (P50M)
6. Lito Lapid     (P50M)
7. Jinggoy Estrada     (P50M)
8. Alan Cayetano     (P50M)
9.Edgardo Angara     (P50M)
10. Ralph Recto     (P50M)
11. Koko Pimentel     (P45M)
12.Tito Sotto     (P50M)
13.Teofisto Guingona     (P44M)
14.Serge Osmeña     (P50M)
15. Juan Ponce Enrile     (P92M)
16.Franklin Drilon (October 2012-PIOOM)
17. Greg Honasan     (P50M)
18. Francis Escudero     (P99M)
19. Pia Cayetano     (P50m)

Nine of them, are incumbent in the present senate: Ramon Revilla, Francis Pangilinan,  Lito Lapid, Edgardo Angara, Ralph Recto, Koko Pimentel, Tito Sotto, Franklin Drilon and Pia Cayetano.

Only Panfilo Lacson is also incumbent, but did not receive any DAP for his vote.

This gruesome action by the upper house of the Congress of the Philippines will forever be etched in the minds of every Filipino as the most damning evidence of how corrupt the Philippine legislature is.

They conspired with then sitting president BS Aquino III who wanted to vent his vindictive character “punishing” Chief Justice Renato Corona for presiding over the finality of the judicial action against the Aquino and Cojuangco families retaining retain Hacienda Luisita and further delaying its turnover to its farmers and farm workers.

Sense of vengeace

It was also a sense of vengeance powered by emotions that motivated the murder of Julius Caesar in the hands of Roman senators.  DailyHistory.org explained that the conspirators wanted to truncate his fast rise to power.”

The senators perceived that his rise to be a king would eventually destroy the Roman Republic ergo lead to the abolition of the senate.

Julius Caesar was assassinated by about 40 Roman senators on the “ides of March” (March 15) 44 BCE.

Caesar’s death resulted into their unintended consequence – a long series of civil wars that ended in the death of the Roman Republic and the birth of the Roman Empire.”

After the fall of the Roman Republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the Roman senate to the Roman emperor.  The senate though was not abolished. Though retaining its legal position under the republic, however, the actual authority of the imperial senate was negligible, as the emperor held the true power in the state.”

Laughable senate

Our senate is just as laughable. Duterte’s hold on power is stronger after the senate hearing that it was before.

The question of the renewal of franchise of a television empire is a private bill, and yet the Philippine senate has opted to take it on as a federal case.

Lobby money

It is hard to believe that our senators did not receive lobby money for exchanging legislative primetime with the oligarchic network. But not waiting for the lower house endorsement on a private bill before the senate acted on it, is highly suspicious, considering a great number of the senators today have already soiled their souls in the Renato Corona impeachment case.

We can no longer afford the luxury of senators supporting oligarchic greed and giving preferential option to those who do not support national interest. That it is the upper house does not mean at all that they are the representatives of the ruling elite.

Padded budget

For the year 2020 alone, Senators have padded their own budget for next year, increasing it by P2 billion, for a total budget of up to P9.5 billion.

This means that taxpayers will spend nearly P396 million for each of the 24 senators, their staff and consultants, and Senate employees.

On the other hand, each congressman who is in more direct representation of a specific constituency, will spend only average of P46.5 million, which is just 12 percent of the budget for each senator.

Issues involving ABS-CBN

What about the issues involving ABS-CBN?

I will not give any of it any dignity precisely because even if the both houses of Congress pass it, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will nevertheless veto it, and it takes ¾ majority in both houses to override that.

The president does not even have to give any reason for his veto because it is prerogative under the Constitution.

This is of course if the franchise legislative process beats the Supreme Court in outlawing this media organization that has conducted itself more in breach of its franchise rather than faithful observance of good citizenship.

A quo warranto when granted by the Supreme Court, will render its present franchise null and void, and if it is then what is there to renew?

Only one party has a right to the dissemination of information – the government in furtherance of state aspirations.

No less than the leadership of the lower house has reminded giant media network ABS-CBN that the renewal of its congressional franchise to continue its operations is a privilege, not a right, under the law.

Hubris and dung

This is a delegation, not a substitution. A derivative cannot be more than its origin. In like manner, the Philippine senate cannot be more than the government. It is just one half of one-third of it. Yet the hubris and dung that we see emanating from it is so obnoxious, it is better abolished.

The issues heard in this morning’s hearings do not have any compulsion. The senate has again once wasted the people’s time. (iamigo/sovereignph.co)

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