Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ombudsman's Pique

What the Ombudsman did to the Supreme Court was nothing but a false perception of power in the hierarchy of constitutional offices prevalent in third world countries too sensitive of their turfs. The Ombudsman showed its pique when it was directed by the Supreme Court to accelerate the investigation of the COMELEC officials involved in the ACM scam. The Ombudsman quickly retorted that it is a constitutional body, just like the Supreme Court and nobody orders it around (except the President, it appears).

When Atty. Macalintal intervened before the Supreme Court pleading for the use of the “technically sound” counters for the next election, one does not have to be a genius to decipher the hand of Malacanang in the rigmarole. The bottomline of the strategy is to eventually absolve the election officials as a sign of gratitude. Let’s see if these officials get the boot and they start pointing at the masterminds. Chairman Abalos and company have already made known their plan B when Commissioner Borja told the Senate that the last elections were not lilywhite. This portends of things to come and the occupants of the Palace are in tenterhooks.

One recent case not reported in the media was the reversal by the High Court on September 8, 2006 of the ruling of then acting justice secretary Merceditas Gutierrez dismissing libel charges against Pinoy Times Special Edition’s reporters and editors in G.R. No. 170643 entitled JEJOMAR C. BINAY, for and in behalf of his minor daughter, JOANNA MARIE BIANCA S. BINAY versus THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, GENIVI V. FACTAO and VICENTE G. TIROL. Defying existing jurisprudence and common sense (evidence aliunde), then Secretary Gutierrez threw out the libel case against the tabloid on the ground of “privileged communication because it was a fair comment on the fitness of petitioner to run for public office, particularly on his lifestyle and that of his family. As such, malice cannot be presumed. It is now petitioner’s burden to prove malice in fact.” The Court rejected Gutierrez rationale, thus, “whichever way we view it, we cannot discern a legal, moral, or social duty in publishing Joanna's status as an adopted daughter. Neither is there any public interest respecting her purchases of panties worth P1,000.00. Whether she indeed bought those panties is not something that the public can afford any protection against. With this backdrop, it is obvious that private respondents' only motive in inserting paragraph 25 in the subject article is to embarrass Joanna before the reading public.” The dimunitive mayor, a top honcho of the opposition, is smiling from here and there. His legal think tank scored a homerun. Gutierrez's recent ruling adverse to the Makati mayor that binds over anti-graft cases filed by the latter's perennial foe, Bobby Brillante, to the Sandiganbayan is endangered of being again thrown out by the High Tribunal. In this country there is no such thing as sub judice. Court cases are fair game in the pr business. Expect the daily bombardment of the Ombudsman in the media in the next three weeks. At the end of the day, nobody believes that the Ombudsman is a woman after all.

The Supreme Court Division that reversed then Secretary Gutierrez is the one headed by no less than the Chief Justice himself. Scuttlebutts tell us that those that compose that division at one time or another sought the help of the now Ombudsman in their quest for appointment in the High Court.

One thing is certain, the sitting Ombudsman has a track record of just being a lackey of Malacanang. She acts on cases equipped with nothing but instructions from her bosses. Her rulings smacks of cut and paste, a jigsaw of off tangent jurisprudence bereft of common sense but testaments of her unvarnished loyalty to her patron. She is surrounded by textbook lawyers recruited from nowhere who lack basic common sense and whose rulings are tortuous twisted logic. Her unmatched records of rebuff by the High Court reflect on her appointment. As Shakespeare said, “we are all punished”.

The casualties of these ongoing intramurals are our constitutional institutions, the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman. The Senate now looks like a forlorn agency emaciated by executive decrees. It appears that there is someone orchestrating the institution-bashing and the effort spells logistics. One gaming corporation has it.

At any rate, The Bard again has apt words in situations like these: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

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