Why their lawyers are all over town (UPDATED)

One of Mike Arroyo’s lawyers accused the Comelec of compromising its independence by participating in a joint investigation panel looking into allegations that his client was involved in massive electoral fraud in the 2007 midterm elections.

Atty. Ferdinand Topacio said it is “legally impermissible” for an independent constitutional body like the Comelec to work together with the Justice Department because it would, for all intents and purposes, be acting as an agent of the president.

    “Chairman Brillantes (Comelec) should have opposed this latest assault on the integrity and independence of the Comelec, but being the former lawyer of the President, he meekly stood by and delivered the Comelec to the Executive branch like a lamb being led to slaughter. This is a less than brilliant stand on his part,” he said.

Is there something to what he said? Let’s break it down.

1. “Chairman Brillantes (Comelec) should have opposed this latest assault on the integrity and independence of the Comelec…”

ASSAULT? Was the Comelec coerced into forming a joint panel with the DOJ or was it exercising its integrity and independence when it decided to form a joint panel with the DOJ? Forming a joint panel to investigate the same charges is common sense, it will avoid redundancy and save time and money for everyone concerned. Topacio should welcome it.

LATEST ASSAULT? Topacio should ennumerate the previous assaults, if any.

2. “…but being the former lawyer of the President, he meekly stood by and delivered the Comelec to the Executive branch like a lamb being led to slaughter”

Can Topacio show proof other than innuendo by association? Maybe he can cite specific examples where Brillantes as Comelec chairman behaved in a manner similar to former chairman Abalos. That should not be difficult because Brillantes has been in office for a year and that’s enough time to leave footprints.

If sliming by association is okay then let’s cite Topacio’s other clients. There’s police superintendent Cesar Mancao of the Dacer-Corbito murder case whose testimony against Sen. Panfilo Lacson came at the height of Lacson’s exposes against his client Mike Arroyo; there’s former Palawan governor Joel Reyes who is accused of being the mastermind in the murder of Geraldo Ortega, a radio-journalist and environmentalist; there’s Euphemio Genuino, former PAGCOR chairman and friend of his client Mike Arroyo, who is facing multiple charges before the Ombudsman. He was also the election of the late Batangas governor Armand Sanchez, a rumored jueteng lord and ally of the Arroyos.

We can also play the innuendo game,

    “Atty. Topacio should have welcomed the joint DOJ-Comelec panel not as the latest assault on the integrity and independence of the Comelec but as cooperation between two independent agencies to ferret out the truth regarding the 2007 elections, but being the lawyer of Mike Arroyo who reportedly set-aside billions for his defense, Topacio protested and slimed Comelec chairman Brillantes. This is a less than brilliant stand on his part.”

Will innuendos bring us closer to resolving the issues related to the 2007 elections?

Business Mirror reported, “Topacio also assailed the panel for refusing to exonerate Mike Arroyo despite the findings of the joint fact-finding team of the DOJ-Comelec, which found insufficient evidence to place him under investigation.”

Topacio is being specious. The summons for his client is in connection with the election sabotage case filed by Sen. Koko Pimentel. It is an entirely different from the case he is citing.

The lawyers of the Arroyos are preparing the ground work for the application for political asylum of their clients. Newspaper clippings of their statements regarding trumped up charges and delays in granting travel permits to their clients, including the SC decision on the Truth Commission, will be presented as proofs of persecution against the Arroyos. You can be sure the Arroyos have been consulting lawyers abroad.

UPDATE In Malaya Comelec Chairman Brillantes responds to Topacio

    Brillantes said, “Kilala ko naman si Attorney Topacio. Napaka-galing na abugado. Ang problema lang sa kanya, hindi yata niya binabasa ang batas.”

    He said the Poll Automation Law would show that pursuing election-related crimes is no longer the sole jurisdiction of the Comelec.

    “If you read the RA 9369, concurrent ang jurisdiction ng Comelec and DOJ. It means the law itself allows that the Comelec and the DOJ should join,” said Brillantes.

    Section 43 of the law states: “The Commission shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have the power, concurrent with the other prosecuting arms of the government, to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under this Code, and prosecute the same.”

So there.

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, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • Allen Garrison

    Sometime before they said it about used car salesmen. 

  • J_ag

    A bad lawyer can delay a case for ten years while a really good one can do it for twenty.

    The whole government will change in 2016 and going by the record of the past  as long as there is a  large budget for payoffs for judges and justices the case will take a long long long ………….

    First step stop the complaint from being upgraded to an indictment. 

    If the Sandigan approves an indictment which will take some time then the appeals process and then on to the SC for the indictment to be final.. 

    In this country magic can happen.. Just ask Senator Lacson.. He was indicted and he then fled so the warrant of arrest could not be served. Hence the court could not take custody of him and yet the CA took his case when the case went to  the appeals process event though he was a fugitive in flight.  That is a big no no… The appeals should not have been heard since he was already a fugitive. A convicted fugitive. 

    • Anonymous

      Court delays won’t be a big deal whenever getting conviction is practically irrelevant to any Malakanyang where the primacy is to get positive media-coverage.   This may be most true for de Lima and her political ambitions.

      • Manuelbuencamino

        Like they shout at the stands …deefense! deefense!!!

  • Joe America

    That is what lawyers are supposed to do. Attack the credibility of anyone who is engaged in potential harm to their clients. Truth is irrelevant. There is a reason attorneys are considered by many to be slimeballs, but it is their job to be just that if it keeps clients out of jail and bank accounts loaded. I’m sure your quotebook has lots of rips against attorneys. If not, I’ll dredge up Jonathan Swift’s view, or Ambrose Bierce’s. I’m confident Ambrose had a word or two to say.