Legalizing the illegal

Legalizing the illegal
Ellen Tordesillas
March 19, 2010

‘Arroyo can do anything illegal to stay in power beyond June 2010 and the Supreme Court will give it a mantle of legality.’

THIS is what is disturbing about the Supreme Court decision allowing Gloria Arroyo to make a midnight appointment to succeed Chief Justice Reynato Puno: Arroyo can do anything illegal to stay in power beyond June 2010 and the Supreme Court will give it a mantle of legality.

This is the scenario that we are looking at: There will be partial failure of elections, only at the national level. That means no president, vice president and senators would be proclaimed by June 30.

Since the term of incumbent Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will end on June 30, there will be no Senate President, who is third in the Constitutional order of succession. (There have been calls for Enrile to do the patriotic act of resigning as Senate President so that someone whose term will end in 2013 could sit as Senate President but no dice.)

Meanwhile, there would be proclamation of winners in the local posts including members of the House of Representatives. There have been reports of Gloria Arroyo subsidizing the campaign of many congressmen to make sure that she gets elected as speaker.

The speaker of the House is fourth in the line of succession.

By noon of June 30, 2010 without a proclaimed president, vice president, and Senate President, House Speaker Gloria Arroyo becomes the acting president. The House then meets as a constituent assembly and adopts a parliamentary form of government. Gloria is named prime minister.

Of course, concerned citizen groups will question it in the Renato Corona Supreme Court, which expectedly will throw it out.

The public would be outraged. They will try People Power. The AFP Chief of Staff is Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit. He may not be highly regarded by military officers but he is loyal to Arroyo. He has defended her against those who wanted the truth out and preserve democracy during the Hello Garci scandal in 2005 and 2006. He is expected to defend her against an enraged citizenry.

The Philippine Army, the biggest service command, is under Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu who belongs to Class ’78 of the Philippine Military Academy just like Bangit. Arroyo is honorary member of PMA Class ’78.

Putting Mapagu at the helm of the Army meant bypassing a more senior officer, Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, who belongs to PMA Class ’77. I can imagine that Mapagu is very grateful to Arroyo.

Another from Class ’78 has also been put in a very strategic position. Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue is chief of the Army’s National Capital Region Command.

Let me tell you about something that happened in the 2004 elections involving Rear Admiral Angue. He was then a Navy captain assigned in Tawi-Tawi as a task force commander.

Angue was telling his friends that then Maj. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, AFP deputy chief of staff for operations, was calling him to facilitate entry of election operators in the area.

Angue told his friends he appealed to Esperon to spare his area of jurisdiction since it didn’t have a big voting population anyway. He also said that if they must undertake the operation, he’d rather that he is taken out of the area.

He was taken out.

Commendable, wasn’t it.

Yet, sources in the military said he didn’t relate this incident during the investigation of the role of the military in tampering of the 2004 election results conducted by then Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga.

With that, I’m not so hopeful Angue would side with the people in a political crisis.

What about the PNP? Last week, PNP chief Jesus Versoza said he believes that there should a new president by June 30. But if Arroyo continues to hold on to power after June, he said, he would seek the guidance of the Supreme Court.

Naloko na.

Besides Versoza, who belongs to PMA Class ’76, may not really be in control of his organization. Last month Metro Manila Police Chief of PMA Class ’78 tried to reshuffle police officers in Manila without consulting with Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Lim went to court citing the law establishing the PNP that "no reshuffle or reassignment of station police commanders can be effected in a particular city or town without the concurrence or clearance of the local chief executive."


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