Sunday, September 14, 2008

Corrupt Judges in Manila?

By Sunday Post

The issue of corruption in the Court of Appeals which resulted in the sacking of one of its members while four others were meted out with varying sanctions ranging from suspension to admonition has caught the interest of three local lawyers of different calibers whose reactions were sought on the state of the Bohol judiciary.

 The three attorneys—Victor de la Serna, Isabelo Sales, Jr. and Alexander Lim, were picked from the hundreds of lawyers all over Bohol for their own commentaries regarding the impact of the bribery scandal hounding the appellate court.

 But for all their divergent reputation in the practice of law, all three lawyers were unanimous in their pronouncement that the Bohol judiciary which is made up of judges and prosecutors are generally free from corruption.

 De la Serna, a bar topnotcher, was chosen on the basis of his extensive knowledge of the law considering the scope of his practice which expended from the US to Manila and then Bohol. Among the three lawyers, only de la Serna can claim extensive exposure to the practice of his calling because it expended beyond the Philippine shores. He is a member of the California Bar.

 Sales was asked of his comment in his capacity as president of the Integrated Bar, Bohol chapter.

 For his part, Lim was chosen from among his peers of competent lawyers, due to his reputation as the most sought after lawyer hereabouts. It's public knowledge that even if Lim is known to be one of the expensive legal counsels around, he is considered the darling of litigants given his track record.

 But this Filipino-Chinese lawyer did not escape suspicion from among lawyers that he is a popular law practitioner not because of his capability of handling cases but his propensity to cultivate the right connections in the right places.

 Although he did not deny this wrong perception as  claimed by members of the local Bar, Lim said if he is the favorite of litigants compared to other lawyers it is because  he knows the law.

 But Lim denied the insinuation that he won cases not because on its merits but because he knows the judges and fiscals.

 He took exception to the widely known dictum among lawyers. This saying which Lim denied to have enjoyed was the one that differentiates between a good lawyer and a great lawyer. It says a good lawyer knows his law while a great lawyer knows the judge.

 While admitting that he was a victim of the unsavory perception, Lim maintained that out of professional jealousy some people have the wrong notion that he won cases because he knows the judge.

 An Ateneo graduate, Lim said on the whole, judges and fiscals in Bohol are basically honest.  

 Although he mentioned of a few recalcitrant magistrates and prosecutors, those who were involved in improprieties were isolated cases. He did not elaborate.


 On the part of de la Serna, he said the  recent bribery scandal that has shattered the public image and credibility of the Court of Appeals has only confirmed the malignant cancer that has infected the country's judicial system for so long a time now.

 The topnotcher lawyer apparently knew whereof he spoke.

 A long time practicing lawyer in the nation's capital, de la Serna can rattle off the corrupt judges in the CA and the regional trial courts in Metro Manila.

 He said it is common knowledge among Manila-based lawyers who are the so-called runners and brokers of CA and RTC judges in Manila.

 He, however, took exception to insinuations that some local judges and prosecutors are tainted with corruption charges.

 He said that in Bohol, there's no way that judges and ficals will have the temerity to fix cases knowing this is one place where everybody knows everybody.

 At the first sign that a  judge was perceived to be corruptible, the issue will immediately spread and the erring magistrate will not escape the curse  and wrath of a vigilant public.

 Going back to his thesis on corrupt CA justices, de la Serna said  while corruption by many judges and justices was spoken more in whispers among lawyers before, this incident has blown wide open judicial corruption to the general public.

 The Supreme Court acting on the recommendation of a three-man panel it created handed the penalty of dismissal from the service of Justice Vicente Roxas. The reason cited was his undue interest in handling the Meralco vs GSIS which resulted in his favorable decision to the giant power utility company.

 The High Court also suspended for two months Justice Jose Sabio, Jr. while three others were handed varying sanctions ranging from reprimand to admonition for their involvement in the controversial case.


 Reacting to the fate that befall the five justices, the IBP-Bohol followed the line espoused by its national chapter. Calling for drastic action, the IBP national chapter through its president called for the resignation of all the justices involved.

 The full text of the IBP-Bohol statement read:

 The position of the IBP national board of governors was for the appellate justices involved in the MERALCO – GSIS controversy to resign from their posts.

 From our view, we find no cogent reason to offer dissent to their stand. Obviously, with all the corruption and misdeeds happening in highest places of government, the only remaining bastion of integrity and trust is in our courts. Once this is lost, we can no longer expect fairness and justice even in our courts of law. 

 Certainly, the rule of the mob is not quite far behind absent the respect for the law. 

Politics American Style

Eye Opener
By Sunday Post

 In American politics, despite the heavy campaigning and  exchange of attacks when  the decision is made in the primaries, the opposing candidates irregardless of the bitterness  of the political debate, close ranks and support the winning  presidential candidate.

 For the sake of saving her face, the Democratic  party convention  conducted a roll vote of the chosen delegates and allowed votes to be cast for Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. But when it was the turn of the New York delegation to vote, Hilary Clinton took over the microphone not to announce that with all the bitterness of the past confrontation that she was going to continue her presidential ambitions come what may, instead she graciously moved to end the agony of the roll call vote  and instead appealed to the delegates to declare as unanimous the election of Barack Obama as the presidential candidate. Her husband, who as not the best person pleased by the results of the Democratic primary also gave a speech in the convention supporting Barack Obama. Of course, as expected the rancor brought about by the harsh political contests in the Democractic primaries have not died down, and they would prefer to vote for Mr. John McCain than vote for Obama.

 There many imponderables  in the coming elections. Firstly, people are asking who is really  leading in the race with a few months left for campaigning. Some pundits say anything can happen. A win in key states which deliver the big bulk of the votes. This is not about popularity, a candidate who might be the most popular candidate might win a plurality of votes but if he lost in the states where  the most electoral votes are located, he will still lose the elections as has befallen  democratic presidential candidate and former Vice-President Albert Arnold Gore Sr. He lost also by a decision of the Supreme Court which favored George Bush.

 Issues there are too many them.  Questions like who is the candidate who can safeguard the security of America from the terrorists. After the Sept 11 bombing, nobody is sure already. Anything can happen.

 Will there be a total pullout of the US troops  in Iraq and Afghanistan and announce the end of the war in these two countries. Whom of the two candidates has a serious program and strategy to locate and kill Hosanna Bin Laden. That he is still alive until today is what many people hate about George Bush.

 On immigration which is a very highly debatable issue, will McCain be able to allow foreigners to come to the United States and solve their manpower shortages so much so that many jobs are not outsourced to other countries because US don't  have enough people to do the jobs.  Who is the president who can stop the deluge of Mexicans crossing over the bakod every night. I was told in the borders of Mexico and Texas, there are underground tunnels where Mexicans go the USA during the day and go home to Mexico during the night.

 What shall an incumbent administration do on the financial and mortgages failure which have driven out many Americans from their mortgaged homes, Some people say it is no longer a land of milk and honey. Some Filipino American retirees have gone home to the Philippines and using their pensions to survive on a cheaper scale in the Philippines.

 Will the incoming American president allow drilling offshore and utilize the inventory of millions of liters of gasoline stored underground. Will an American  president allow the construction of nuclear power plants to minimize the dependence of Americans on foreign oil?

 On election day, many of these issues will be resolved by the winning President. And the basic difference that while television and money will be the critical factors in the American elections, there are no vote buying  and poll terrorism.  

 Who is going to win, maybe for the time being Barack Obama is leading but who knows John McCain will catch up. Did Sarah Palin, the estatic two-year governor of Alaska help McCain maybe yes, but in the final analysis the Americans will realize that Palin aside from her womanly charm, a darling of the media has nothing much of solid experience to offer the American people.

Food production and population control

From Mirror
Sunday Post Newspaper
 Two news items came out in the papers, this week, one locally and the other in the national broadsheet. Though they did not merit headline treatment, they are neither the less important. The news in the Post said the Bohol would become the rice center of the region while the other announced that the reproductive health bill is to be taken up in the plenary session. Both are complementary.

 With the expanding irrigation facilities, Bohol is nearing self sufficient in rice and when the controversial Talibon irrigation will be completed, the province will become the rice-producing center of the region, Region VII to be specific. There are other islands in the Philippines, which could out produce Bohol in terms of rice. There is the Northeastern and Central Luzon. However, industrialization and urbanization are eating into their rice lands. There are no more land areas that could be opened up to replace lost paddies.

 One cannot be too sure of rice production in Mindanao.  The peace and order problem is not conducive to agricultural production or any production whatsoever. Too many productive lands developed by Christian settlers are claimed by Muslims as their ancestral home, though is was never theirs and had no hand in developing those lands. However, if order can be restored, there, the second biggest island of the Philippines might out produce Luzon in terms of rice.

 Even if Luzon and Mindanao will realize their full potential in the production of staple cereals, distribution would still be a problem. With our present transporting facilities, conveying large volume of supplies to cereal scarce areas is not easy especially during times of disaster. It is imperative that the middle islands would attain relative self-sufficiency and to maintain buffer stock to carry them over during typhoon seasons. Thus the development of Bohol rice industry is welcome news.

 On the other hand, even if rice production attains its maximum capacity, this will not be enough if we do not curb our runaway population growth. Land mass will not grow so no more food producing areas can be developed. The Malthusian theory that the growth of food production is inversely proportional to population growth is no longer a theory but a fact.

 The reproductive health bill has passed the committee and is now presented to the plenary for deliberation. In the present unitary system of government, the majority of our elected representatives cannot resist arm-twisting techniques exerted by sectors against the bill. The bill could be defeated by those, whose political career depends upon the goodwill of the Church. If our system had been federal, where each federal region would determine its own destiny, not all federal regions would follow the Church line so the Church took a stand against federalism.

 Since it is the government, which is responsible for feeding people, which can no longer feed itself, it must be the government that will look for solutions, such as balancing food and population growth. Then the government, its elected representatives in particular must be left alone to find the solution. The aim of the bill is contraception not abortion.

 If the Church must have its say the Church must not be only concerned with the religion of the Filipino but its culture as well. The biological urge is a powerful force that even men of the cloth succumb to it. The non-permissive culture looks down upon the single mother so abortions would be rife among the young. And when families can no longer bear the effects of poverty, they resort to infanticides and suicides. This had never been the case when the Filipino was only twelve million or twenty million. This could be the handwriting on the wall. If only the rhythm is acceptable, the Church must undertake and extensive and intensive education campaign on the mechanics of this technique. 

Corruption in the Court of Appeals?

The scandal which hit the Court of Appeals (CA) that resulted in the dismissal of one justice, the suspension of the whistle-blower and the reprimand of the presiding justice hit a raw nerve somewhere.

 Every now and then, there have been whispers about something sinister going on in the halls of justice but only in a rare while does something like this come out. And yet, no matter how many times people hear about them, they still get shocked when something like this comes out in the open.

 The irony of it all is that Justice Jose Sabio who first blew the whistle on the alleged attempt of Francis de Borja did not exactly turn out to be squeaky clean as he initially projected himself to be.

 In fact, among the questions that hounds Sabio to this day with regards to the Meralco-GSIS case which he has not sufficiently answered is why he came out only after he was removed from the case.

 Of course, Sabio also did not sound convincing when he said he did not find anything wrong about his brother, himself a top government official, calling him at least twice about the case.

 Be that as it may however, the point is that this scandal definitely is just the tip of the iceberg. There are others all around it that need to be looked into and probed in like manner.

 One that Boholanos definitely can identify with is the Vivian Dumaluan rape-slay case.

 Stranger things have happened before but it seems there is more than meets the eye right here.

 How one party can get access to a copy of the resolution of the case, not once, but twice certainly adds fuel to the fire.

 Like the Meralco case, the proof of the pie is in the eating. The resolution speaks volumes about the way things are turning out in the Dumaluan case.

 This is not to say somebody really made money, the rumors notwithstanding.

 The point is that the judiciary needs to shape up and not wait for people to lose faith in it altogether. This would require clear action instead of just waiting for the storm to subside.

 In Bohol, there are stories about special relationships between lawyers and judges. True or not, such stories continue to pester for one reason or another.

 Whether these stories evolve into full-blown scandals or not, only succeeding events will tell. Time has a way of righting wrongs and settling scores. - Editorial of the Bohol Sunday Post

WHO Campaign Against Rabies

Bohol rabies prevention program gets a longer leash with the World Health Organization (WHO) pitching in to help prop up the local initiative to eradicate the threat. 

  Provincial Veterinarian Stella Marie Lapiz bared this Wednesday as her update to members of the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Eradication Council during a meeting at the Mansion. 

  This she also gave to the delight of the Bohol Rabies Prevention and Eradication Council (BRPEC) members who have labored for setting up the mechanism for the program to be unleashed. 

  Bohol has topped Central Visayas in human and animal rabies cases, causing undue threat to the thriving tourism industry here. 

  In her report Wednesday, Dr. Lapiz said WHO has granted Bohol P1.1M in year-long fund to aid in helping attain the goal of making Bohol rabies free by 2010. 

  WHO also understood that Bohol Capitol puts up a counterpart fund of P1.5M, Dr. Lapiz shared.  

  The fund is available from August 2008 to July 2009, said Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, WHO representative in the Philippines , in a letter sent to Dr. Lapiz sated August 26, 2008.

  This fund is different from the bulk of P7M apportioned for Bohol by the Alliance for Rabies Control (ARC), which Dr. Lapiz earlier bared to the media.

  The ARC fund is for piloting initiatives in a province-wide anti-rabies campaign to help Bohol anti-rabies and responsible pet owner advocates document a collaborative effort.

  The end goal is for ARC to create a template for future support program in their rabies elimination campaign in other countries, Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz then said.

  One of the terms of reference for the WHO fund however includes institutionalization of Barangay rabies watchers through a barangay resolution or ordinance.

  To Dr. Lapiz and BRPEC members, this is not much of a problem as even before the funding assistance came, the Bantay Rabies sa Barangay (BRBs), or roughly translated as the barangay rabies watchers have been set up in earlier initiatives.