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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, March 16, 2018
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Like Mona Lisa’s doorsteps

Ninfa Leonardia

The reports said that registration for the May elections continues. The question of voters and candidates is: Will the elections take place? There are so many mixed signals about the barangay and sangguniang elections that nobody now is sure, much more the potential bets and electors, whether it will be held, and when. One can only sympathize with those who have plans to run for office, who are not sure whether they have to start planning or “moving” now or not.

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And then there is also the revelation supposedly from Malacañang, that it has a list of some 9,000 barangay officials who are involved in drugs. Isn’t it unfair to dangle the information before the public, and withhold the names of those listed, so they can decide whether to pursue their candidacies or not? A disclosure at this point will enable those who are guilty to change their plans, and the innocent who may have been included, to clear themselves in time for the voting.

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The news that President Duterte has decided to withdrew our membership, or whatever you call it, in the International Criminal Court has become a puzzle to many people. Why should we withdraw if we can prove we are not guilty of whatever charges it may bring up against us, our President, particularly? Indeed, we have our own courts, but see how vulnerable our judges and justices are. Look at the Chief Justice of the highest court in the land. She is now under fire for charges that many of her colleagues in the practice of law do not believe sufficient to impeach her.

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By the way, it looks as if, as this case against the Chief Justice is moving on, more people are getting convinced that the charges against her are not strong enough to impeach her. But then it seems that those who are in a position to judge her have already made up their minds. Or had their minds made up for them? But the first lady Chief Justice is proving to be no pushover, she will go down – if ever – fighting. That we can perceive even at this point in the game.

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After the Palace let it be known that it had nothing to do with the case, some lawyers began to conjecture that it could be because Congress seemed gung ho at the start for the impeachment, but when many of their colleagues began pointing out the grounds for the impeachment of public servants, including, of course, the members of the judiciary, they seem to have realized the case may not be standing on solid grounds. What the Constitution says about it does not seem to jibe with the offenses being charged against the incumbent chief justice.

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Well, the House of Representatives has tossed the ball into the court of the Senate, after making their own decision, washing their hands of the mess it is likely to create. Now the people must watch carefully and see if their senators stick by the Constitution, or just roll with the tide, even at the risk of being condemned by their constituents. This is a scenario worth watching very closely, to guide us all in the next election – if there will still be any.

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I am sure many other eyebrows, aside from mine, were raised at the news yesterday that President Duterte is pushing his so-called right-hand man Christopher “Bong” Go, spokesperson Harry Roque, and his political adviser Francis Tolentino, to run for the Senate in the next election. This was said to be revealed by his Communications Secretary, Martin Andanar, so don’t blame us if we believe it. What do we call this? Is it hand-picking of the next membership of the Upper House? I guess that is a privilege a president enjoys.

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Another puzzle: Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is now blaming prosecutors of his office for the very unpopular decision to dismiss the charges against three alleged drug kingpins in the country. Oh? He did not know about it? They did not tell him? But news reports also said the resolution on those cases had been forwarded to his office a month ago yet and he only found it in the newspapers! Now he is blaming his subordinates. I hope he is not one of those executives who requires his subordinates to furnish him copies of all documents and then just leaves them in his desk where, like the dreams of Mona Lisa’s suitors, “They just lie there and they die there…”in this case, they got dismissed!*

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