“As for Rolando Llamas, here’s friendly advice: the next time you want to buy a DVD, for goodness’ sakes, send your driver out to buy what you want.”
by Ducky Paredes
One theory about how cabinet secretaries should behave is that they should, at all times, be like Caesar’s wife meaning that they should always be above suspicion. In the case of Pompeia, the wife Caesar divorced, when Caesar was asked about why the divorce, the Roman emperor replied: “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.” Obviously, Caesar had his suspicions about Pompeia.
Caesar next married Calpurnia who had a premonition about the Ides of March but Caesar, like most husbands, ignored her warnings and realized too late that he should have fully trusted his last wife. Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, the 15th day of the month.
In the case of the acts of Political Affairs Adviser, Secretary Ronald Llamas, caught on a cellphone camera actively haggling over the price of pirated DVDs from a Quezon City mall, what did he do that you and I and most of our fellow citizens have not done again and again? In fact, buying purloined CDs and DVDs is so prevalent in this country that, although we have laws that prohibit the selling of purloined music and movies on CDs and DVDs, there is no law prohibiting us ordinary folk from buying.
Atty. Coco Padilla, chief of the Legal Division of the Optical Media Board (OMB), the government agency that has jurisdiction over the issue of pirated DVDs, clarifies that individuals who purchase pirated DVDs for their own personal use do not face any legal liability.
It is clear therefore that under the provisions of Republic Act 9239 or the Optical Media Act of 2003, the OMB has no reason to file any criminal charge against Llamas.
OMB chief Ronnie Ricketts also said the same thing in TV interviews: that only those who buy more than five or more copies of the same DVD are liable under the law because this means they are doing so for commercial purposes.
Critics of P-Noy, particularly those identified with the camp of Gloria Arroyo, would like nothing better than to capitalize on this issue not so much to pin Llamas down, but more to demonize PNoy.
Their logic goes like this: PNoy has no right to claim the daang matuwid for his administration since his most trusted subordinates are hardly exemplars of virtue.
In Llamas’ case, this is the second time he has come under the spotlight for supposed infractions of the law.
No too long ago, two of Llamas’ staff went on a joyride and failed to return an assault rifle that they were supposed to bring back to Llamas’ residence after they had brought him to the airport when Llams left for Switzerland to attend an important UN conference.
Llamas promptly sacked the erring staff, and subjected them and even himself to a full police investigation (something that officials of the past administration have never done) but that did not stop critics from going to town with the yarn that he possessed an illegal firearm, which was not true at all since the firearm was duly licensed by the PNP and was acquired for self-defense since he had received death threats because of the nature of his job.
The latest news reports about Llamas repeats the falsehood that he owned an unlicensed firearm. (The police have stated that the firearm was duly licensed and had a permit to carry under Llamas’ name.)
I see the call for Llamas’ resignation or sacking as part and parcel of a demolition job against Llamas and PNoy himself.
But, back to the pirated DVDs. Does the fact that he bought pirated DVDs enough of a “crime” to merit his dismissal from the public service? As pointed out earlier, Llamas has no legal liability. He simply bought what he could afford on his salary as a civil servant (a pittance, by elitist standards). Like most of us, Llamas may have felt that the copyrighted product was grossly overpriced.
Our President says that his government has more important things to do than focus on pirated DVDs.
The Aquino administration has a lot of issues on its plate right now: the Corona impeachment; the peace process; the conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea; natural disasters; peace and order, among many others. And in many of these issues, Llamas clearly plays an important role, especially in the anti-corruption drive of the President.
This is precisely why we have a suspicion that what we are seeing is a well-orchestrated demolition job. What better way to cripple PNoy’s drive against corrupt officials of the previous administration than to destroy the credibility of one of its most important advocates?
Ganging up on Llamas for a very minor lapse in judgment has to be intended mainly to destroy PNoy himself and diminish his capability to run after the crooks who made the nine years under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo among the darkest periods in our nation’s history.
The unmitigated plunder of the national treasury, brazen electoral fraud and serious violations of human rights, with more than eight hundred political activists murdered or disappeared during GMA’s term, tell us very clearly that one of the top priorities of the Aquino administration is to bring Arroyo and her accomplices, including Chief Justice Renato Corona, to justice.
Llamas should stand his ground and continue to assist the President in making the political system work in favor of the poor and the powerless, instead of protecting the powerful and the influential, as what Arroyo and her clique did during nine long years of misrule.
The clear demolition job against Llamas and by extension, PNoy himself, should not distract this administration from pursuing the daang matuwid.
As for Rolando Llamas, here’s friendly advice: the next time you want to buy a DVD, for goodness’ sakes, send your driver out to buy what you want. This is one of the things you should learn to delegate, for your own good and for our President’s, too.
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