Fri. May 27th, 2022

By Serafin Ledesma Jr

Covid cases are now down to less than a thousand daily but as the election fever keeps heating up, we might be having more schizophrenic cases ahead of us. What do you think is the logic behind a magma of cases filed against presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos? Reality has not sunk in yet to many fanatics that colors do not a candidate win.

Early on, some quarters were not at ease with Sen. Bong Go taking time in formally withdrawing from the presidential race. Now that he finally did, will that change the scenario? In the recent survey by Publicus, the Trust and Approval ratings of the President remain high. That one should send jitters to presidential aspirants in particular as his endorsement matters.

Will the multiplicity of complaints that had the same or similar allegations influence the Commission on Elections (Comelec)? Will claims that they were victims of martial law or of being Ilocanos add legal substance to their prayers to either cancel the Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) of BBM or disqualify him? Already the Comelec had rejected intervenors as mostly have dubious motives.

Calleja was referring to the 1997 acquittal of BBM of tax evasion, but sustained his guilt for failure to file an ITR. The CA however did not impose a prison sentence.

A prison term would have meant Bongbong’s crime partakes of moral turpitude which could have perpetually disqualified him from running in a public office, voting, and participating in any elections. The appellate court did not but just fined him instead.

Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, for his part, pointed out that the CA’s decision finding BBM guilty for failing to file his ITR for 1982 to 1985 indirectly prohibited him from holding any public office. But then again that prohibition became effective only on 1 January 1986; thus, it cannot be retroactively applied to his ITR for 1982 to 1984.

Moreover, the former Chief Justice said that the prohibition covered his ITR for 1985 which was due on 15 April 1986. Hence, the enforcement of the prohibition would mean that he made a false material representation in his CoC as asserted by the Petition. This could be the bone of contention.

What I know of what transpired during the February 1986 Edsa People Power event was that America tricked the ailing Pres. Ferdinand Marcos by flying him and his family to Hawaii instead of Paoay, Ilocos Norte. It is therefore inconceivable for Bongbong to have filed his taxes for 1985 in April that year.

RMN | APCORE SURVEY – November 23-29, 2021

I sought a legal opinion from one of Davao’s legal luminaries, Atty. Ramon Edison Batacan, the Dean of the School of Law of The Rizal Memorial Colleges and Senior Professor at the Ateneo de Davao-College of Law.

He said that he is in accord with Former CJ Panganiban on some points but opines that Marcos Jr. did not commit any false material representation when he stated that he is eligible to run for public office.

Contrary to the allegation in the Petition, he is NOT disqualified from holding public office. He stressed that basically, the Decision did not expressly impose any accessory penalty on Marcos Jr.

Therefore, he could not be made to suffer perpetual disqualification from holding any public office, voting, and participating in any election under Section 252 (now 253) of the 1977 NIRC.

He points out that the Supreme Court already ruled out the existence of moral turpitude in Marcos Jr.’s alleged failure to file tax returns for 1982-1985 in Republic of the Philippines v. Marcos, G.R. 13071 and 130855 (August 4, 2009).

In the same decision, the Highest Tribunal noted that the CA “acquitted respondent Ferdinand Marcos II of all the four charges for violation of Section 50 [non-payment of deficiency taxes] and sustained his conviction for all the four charges for violation of Section 45 [failure to file income tax returns]”.

The Comelec, to his mind, cannot reverse the decision of the Supreme Court.

Both sides can argue whether it is fair and in accord with due process to disqualify Marcos for failing to pay taxes at the time when they were shanghaied to Hawaii. This too is another matter of contention.

In the meantime, Publicus Asia bared in an excerpt of its December  6 -10, 2021 survey that 46.87 percent of respondents are opposed to the filing of cases against Marcos Jr. versus 25.20 percent who approve. The rest remains neutral. These sentiments are reflected in the results of the respondents’ preference for President. BBM garnered 51.9 percent against Leni’s 20.2 percent.

Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte is in an insurmountable lead, grabbing 54.8 percent against the closest rival, Willie Ong with 11.2 percent. The rest of the contenders are not worth a storyline.

For the meantime, the lawyers will make this election their worst practicuum, redefining terms, exacerbating assumptions, feigning jurisprudence or inventing legal theories to confuse the uneducated , in an attempt to deny the voters, who are the absolute sovereigns, their political decision.

That is Philippine democracy for you!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As I write this piece the Covid -19 new cases in the Philippines is down to less than 500. This week too an unprecedented 24-million doses of various vaccines arrived in the country thus ensuring a substantial supply of vaccines from now all the way to the first quarter of 2022.  About 55% of the total population have been fully vaccinated and we are 15% shy of the herd immunity target of 70%.

Nevertheless, we have seen a stark difference in many situations compared to what we had been mired two months ago and beyond. Our emergency and isolation rooms in government hospitals intended for Covid cases are mostly empty.

Indeed, we have gone a long way from when we were practically scrounging for Personal Protection Equipment for our doctors, nurses, and front liners. That was true with vaccines too.

We faulted Health Sec. Francisco Duque who was the weakest link in our struggle for survival but that is another issue that remains unchanged.

At the height of emergency and chaos, the government has to compete with other countries in scavenging for PPEs and vaccines.  We were in a situation best described by a Filipino adage: “Ang taong nagigipit, kahit sa patalim kumakapit”

Enter Pharmally. The supplies of PPEs at the height of the crippling emergencies came from Pharmally. We only learned of this when the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) conducted an investigation into what the Senate asserts were alleged overprice of PPEs.

To the chagrin of BRC Chairman Dick Gordon, the price of Pharmally was nearly half the purchase price of the Aquino government from their source.

They then harped on the relationship of Duterte with a Michael Yang and why was a company Pharmally Pharmaceuticals, Gordon alleged to have a measly capitalization of ₱625,000, was awarded an ₱8-billion peso supply contract.

Be that as it may, the Commission on Audit categorically said, there was no overpricing and that the goods were delivered. There were minor issues about face shields that had to be replaced but matters like those are commonplace. But the inquisition did not end there.

Falling flat on his face, Dick Gordon is corrected by Rose Nono Lin’s proof that Pharmally Biological is not the same company, as Michael Yang’s Pharmally Pharmaceutical, and that it is not a sister company of the latter nor is there any connection between the two. The lady further asked the Senator to clarify in public earlier misinformation by the Committee, that has led to mainstream media spreading fake news about her and her company, including the purchase of a Lexus luxury SUV that was purchased way before any transactions the Committee is investigating, occurred.

Because Gordon is a lawyer, and up for re-election like the other members of his Committee, ergo the investigation is lasting up to infinity.

All these obfuscations are after the fact. It has been a question of leadership and decisiveness.

The fact is, at the height and the first surge of the pandemic when every country worldwide was shopping for PPEs Pharmally through Michael Yang supplied the Philippines.

So here lies the difference between a leader and a bystander cum fault-finder:

If Dick Gordon were President at the height of emergency what he will do first is to go to the USA and finding none, will shop in Europe. Never in China.

By the time he will find one in the garbage bin in an American hospital, our doctors and nurses are down and people will be dying in the streets.

Look Gordon even refused swab tests to Filipinos who go to the Philippine National Red Cross simply because the government owes PNRC money forgetting that through the years it gets subsidies from the government.

The Duterte government did what must be done. He did the same thing when the government procured arms for the Armed Forces of the Philippines which was fighting armed communist insurgents and ISIS terrorists in Marawi. He was denied by the US so he purchased arms from Russia and China, at a bargain.

When the country cannot buy vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna of the US and Astra Zeneca of the UK, the Duterte government received millions of doses from China and thousands from Russia. And these were mostly donations. To date, China remains to be the country’s biggest supplier of vaccines most of these are gratis et amore.

Call that product of strong leadership in action and art of diplomacy ‘condimented’ with bilateral talks.

Today as we approach herd immunity after fully vaccinating more than half of our population, we find out that 3 out of 4 people have been jabbed with Sinovac from China.  

To date, western propagandists have not ceased assailing the effectiveness of Sinovac vaccines despite the assurance of the World Health Organization. Only one fact remains, China today, despite its population of 1.3-billion people, has the least occurrences of Covid cases compared to western nations that are still in virtual lockdowns.

What of Dick Gordon and his Yellow…rather…” Blue” Ribbon Committee? He sent to jail two Malaysian nationals for driving expensive cars and non-payment of taxes.

This is all about Herd immunity, Pharmally, and Gordon’s Committee. If I had money, I will produce a sequel of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

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