The Empire strkies back: Gloria's counter-Sona

“Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

And so the loyal weaver who cloaked his Empress in legalisms played the precocious boy who could see through pretense. “I have been cautioned to go slow on the SONA because President Aquino enjoys a tremendously high approval rating. But when the Emperor wears no clothes, can I honestly tell you that his robe is regal and majestic?”


Rep. Edcel Lagman delivered Gloria Arroyo’s counter-Sona even as the stench of the anti-impeachment defense he pulled out his ass some years back – “preh-joo-disssh-yal kwesss-chonssss” – still fouls the air.  Look at his allegations of interference, defiance, and anti-constitutional behavior against President Aquino.

“The rule of law, not the role of interference, must be strictly observed and judiciously upheld. No more similar presidential interventions in the judicial domain like in the Trillanes case; no more affront against a co-equal branch of government like the defiance of the valid appointment of Chief Justice Renato Corona; and no more projected creation of a “Truth Commission” which may suffer from constitutional infirmities like usurping the power of Congress to create and fund offices and commissions and violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution.’”

1. Intervention in the Trillanes case

“People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.” – Will Rogers

Atty. Romeo V. Pefianco of the Bulletin addressed the issue of intervention adequately in an article titled, “President’s oath dictates duty.”

He recounted that President Quezon was accused of interference when he vented his anger on a judge and justices of the Court of Appeals who upheld the judge’s decision to dismiss a case involving the death of a laborer.  Quezon believed the laborer was denied justice.

“Quezon’s wrath found total support among the various workers’ federations. But members of the Bar and various civic groups, with full support from the print/broadcast media, reacted with equal vehemence.”

But Quezon was not cowed. “The President coolly lectured to them all: “My oath of office directs me ‘…to do justice to every man…’ I’m doing this now, in addition to preserving and defending the Constitution.”

Pefianco added, “The above is the same oath President Noynoy swore to uphold on June 30… Asking DoJ to review the case against Senator Trillanes is not an act of defying the courts, but a duty imposed by his oath “…to do justice to every man…” The doctrine of separation of powers is a lot lesser than the duty/power to do justice to every man.”

Justice triumphed in the end. The Supreme Court reversed the lower courts and indemnity was awarded to the laborer’s kin.

2. “Affront against a co-equal branch of government”

“I would be loath to speak ill of any person who I do not know deserves it, but I am afraid he is an attorney.” – Samuel Johnson

President Aquino expressed his disagreement with the appointment of Justice Renato Corona before he assumed the presidency. Has he shown any defiance since he took his oath of office?

The fact that disagreement was expressed before, not after, Aquino became president is an inconvenient distinction that Lagman would rather gloss over. And that’s because it’s a “pree-joo-disss-yal kwesss-chon” to his allegation.

And what about Gloria Arroyo, was she being defiant when she disagreed with Supreme Court decisions that went against her?

3. “The creation of a truth commission”

“It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour.” – Thomas Jefferson

Sure, any defense lawyer will argue against the legality of such a commission. That’s what they are paid to do. But all Lagman did was to reveal Arroyo’s legal strategy should she be hauled before the commission. And he also exposed Gloria’s preference for Ombudsman Gutierrez.

I turned off my TV after Lagman’s first allegation. I figured if that was the biggest rock he could hurl, then I was not going to waste my time watching him throw pebbles.

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.