Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror July 11, 2007 edition, p. A6.
In four days, the Anti-Terror Law will be upon us. Despite assurances that the law contains adequate safeguards against misuse and abuse, the fact is— this regime operates above the law.
Consider the unequal treatment of two people alleged to have committed the same crime.
Last November, de facto Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez declared, “Senator Honasan is involved in all cases. In all the coup d’etat attempts he is involved. His fingerprints are always in every attempt at destabilization.”
In February, the Department of Justice opposed bail for Honasan because “the Oakwood mutiny is a component of a larger, planned, swift attack to grab power from the government. The evidence gathered established a conspiracy planned, executed and implemented through massive and clandestine recruitment of military and civilian participants.”
In March, the Makati Regional Trial Court denied bail to Honasan, pending re-investigation of the charges filed against him.
In April, the same court, citing the Constitution and certain facts it must have overlooked a month earlier, reversed itself.
“It (the charge sheet) does not contain any averment that the accused Honasan directed his co-accused, spoke for them, signed receipts and other documents issued in their name,” said the judge.
The judge’s decision angered Raul Gonzalez. So he blamed the Supreme Court’s decision granting bail to Satur Ocampo for the lower court’s turnaround.
Gonzalez grumbled, “It was a precedent… That is what I am afraid of. That Trillanes and Beltran will be allowed bail and all the efforts that we have done to safeguard against de-stabilizers will have gone for naught.”
At the end of April, the Justice Department upped the charge against Honasan to a non-bailable offense.
The additional information said, “We now allege that he is the leader, director, recruiter and commander of the July 27, 2003 coup, unlike in previous information where he was simply linked to the mutiny.”
Thereafter, Honasan, hoping to avoid detention without bail, rushed to Malacañang to pledge his allegiance to Mrs. Arroyo. His oath of obeisance worked; Raul Gonzalez found a rabbit in his hat.
“This is the conclusion that we have reached, Mr. Honasan had no participation whatsoever in the Oakwood incident…He was not shown to have taken or swiftly attacked the Oakwood Premier Hotel for the purpose of seizing government power. He was not with the group of Magdalo officers who occupied the hotel. As respondents have shown, he arrived at Oakwood Premier Hotel together with Senators Rodolfo Biazon and Tito Sotto and then DENR Secretary Michael Defensor to persuade the mutineers to calm down,” Gonzalez said.
Voila! But Justice Department prosecutors pointed out that Gonzalez’ decision was no rabbit.
Assistant State Prosecutor Anthony Fadullon said the prosecution never alleged Honasan was part of the actual take-over of Oakwood, the basis of Gonzalez’ decision to reverse his prosecutors’ findings.
Fadullon explained, “What were mentioned by witnesses was that, in the recruitment stage, Honasan was there and he was there in the afternoon when negotiations took place, as opposed to Trillanes who was a dramatis personae in the actual event.”
He added, “This was not done overnight. The prosecution has been saying this was part of an orchestrated plan that took months to prepare. The instigation, we feel, was done by those present in the meeting the officers and, as witnesses said, Mr. Honasan.”
Susmaryosep! If a finding can be pulled out of a hat to let Honasan off the hook, why couldn’t the same be done for Trillanes?
Was it because rather than doing a Gringo, Senator Trillanes swore he would investigate extrajudicial killings, re-open the Garci case, and continue to work for Mrs. Arroyo’s impeachment?
No, said government mouthpieces. Under the principle of equality before the law, Senator Trillanes deserved the same treatment as a pedophile who was twice elected to Congress while in detention and who, recently, received a commutation of sentence from a close family friend, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
There’s no need to detail the absurd Trillanes/Jalosjos parallel. Suffice it to say that mounting an 11-year-old girl to satisfy one’s perverted craving is not the same as mounting a mutiny against corrupt military leaders.
There is a difference between patriotism and pedophilia; between a man who stands for his beliefs no matter what and a trapo who stands principles on their head whenever it’s expedient. There is a difference between “de jure” and “de facto”; between the rule of law and the rule of outlaws. But this regime wants you to believe “there ain’t no difference.”
Time and time again, this regime has used the law to mock the rule of law. And it has never hesitated to substitute a putative sovereign’s will for the sovereign will of the people. But this regime wants you to believe “it ain’t so.”
So far, this regime has not been able to make the public see things its way. But that can change soon.
The Anti-Terror Law in the hands of the usual suspects is like a cocked .44 caliber Magnum revolver pointed at your head. It can make you see things very differently, very quickly.
It’s a bit scary if you think about it.