Darkness at Noon

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in Business Mirror, August 9, 2006 edition, p. A6.

The House of Representatives, dubbed by Manolo Quezon as the Bastusang Pambansa, released a two-page media guideline for the coverage of this year’s impeachment complaint against Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I have not read the document but a breaking news report said it was intended “to avoid congestion and for orderly proceedings.”

The House Justice Committee chose to meet in Andaya Hall, a venue ideal for keeping the proceedings out of the public’s eyes.  The report went on to add that “the guidelines include banning photographers and live reporting and interviews during the proceedings.”

One hopes the Bastusan does not intend to live up to its name by banning live coverage of the proceedings. One hopes the House only seeks to avoid redundancy by banning reporters from giving a blow-by-blow commentary on what millions of people expect to see and hear anyway. But Mrs. Arroyo does not want the charges against her aired in a proper forum. Her allies don’t want it either because anything can happen once those charges see daylight.

Rep. Prospero Nograles said there is no way the Bastusan will allow the presentation of evidence before the justice committee votes to kill it. He said, “It wasn’t allowed last year, it will not be allowed this year. We will not amend the impeachment rules just to accommodate them.” That explains why Mike Defensor said, “There is nothing to fear and nothing to watch.”

The killing of the impeachment will be done under the cover of darkness, just like the railroaded proclamation of Mrs. Arroyo.

Pro-impeachment representatives should be ready with tape recorders and video cameras in case there is no live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the proceedings. They must keep their own record because minutes will surely be altered, destroyed or misplaced. Mrs. Arroyo will not allow a record of her crimes to stand in the way of the historical revision she will undertake as soon as she consolidates her hold on power. Mark my words.

Malaca?ang has no respect for the legislature but legislators are not alone. The judiciary enjoys similar disdain.

At the Court of Appeals hearing on the petition for habeas corpus filed by the parents of two UP students abducted some time ago, four of the five respondents, Army Chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Lt. Samson and Arnel Enriquez, did not even bother to show up.

One of them, Gen. Palparan, had the audacity to inform the court that he was going to a party instead. The fifth respondent, Lt. Col.  Rogelio Boac, went to the hearing but only to stick his tongue out at one of the witnesses. Up-ending the rule of law is the military’s way of upholding the rule of an outlaw.

Life in the Enchanted Kingdom would be truly dark if it were not for the somewhat comical inconsistency exhibited by the Supreme Court in one of its recent decisions. The Supremes fired Judge Florentino Floro Jr of the Malabon Regional Trial Court because they found his friendship with three imaginary dwarves—Armand, Luis and Angel—a “disabling condition.”

But the same justices believed and applauded Mrs. Arroyo’s story  about three little boys from Payatas—Jason, Jomar and Erwin—who floated three little paper boats down the Pasig river to send her a message she personally read after she actually recovered those paper boats. Faced with that fact, I think the justices should have overlooked the judge’s imaginary friends. Furthermore, they shouldn’t have dismissed the judge for believing in imaginary dwarves when they themselves helped install an elf through an imaginary letter of resignation. A little consistency please, your Honors. Just  kidding. Maybe.

Anything is possible in the Enchanted Kingdom.  Airports, Ro-Ro ports, railways, superhighways and bridges can be built with a PowerPoint presentation; classrooms, jobs and wealth can be created with the stroke of a pen; proper forums can be used for gross improprieties; and day can turn into night with the flick of a soldier’s tongue.

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