“(S)hould PNoy listen to an IBP headed by current IBP President, Roan Libarios, who was tagged by a whistleblower as having received P500,000 as pay-off from then First Gentleman in 2001 through his close associate Vicky Toh.”
by Ducky Paredes
The IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) was d constituted on May 4, 1973 by Presidential Decree No. 181. Section 4 of Article 1 of this PD says: “The Integrated Bar is strictly non-political, and every activity tending to impair this basic feature is strictly prohibited and shall be penalized accordingly.”
The budget for the Expanded Legal Aid Program is P30 million as allotted in the national budget.
What IBP should be doing with the money is giving free legal aid to indigent litigants. But what is it really spending the money for? Recently, it put out full-page newspaper ads attacking the Aquino administration for allegedly infringing on the independence of the judiciary.
This can only mean that the government is being fried in its own fat.
The IBP has gone against a sitting president before. In December 1987, the IBP (48,000 members in 83 chapters) announced that it was “prepared to stage street protests to express the ‘growing anger’ of lawyers over controversies pestering the Gloria Arroyo administration; we are ready. If we have to go to the streets we’ll do it. We can’t remain silent and neutral.”
This was supported by all of the 9 members of the board of governors and was because of “election fraud, ‘ghost projects’ like the national broadband network deal with ZTE Corp. of China, as well as the Palace cash gifts scandal.”
The IBP has recently been into vitriolic attacks against the Aquino administration. Recently it cautioned President Aquino against speaking out his mind on the ongoing impeachment trial.
While Gloria should have listened to the IBP then, should PNoy listen to an IBP headed by current IBP President, Roan Libarios, who was tagged by a whistleblower as having received P500,000 as pay-off from then First Gentleman in 2001 through his close associate Vicky Toh. The whistleblower even produced a copy of the bank deposit slip.
Libarios does not deny the allegation, but lamely says that he “cannot recall anymore” receiving such an amount.
And let’s not forget that Libarios owes his IBP position to no less than Corona himself.
Corona interceded in the internal squabble of the IBP where there had been a previous agreement for term-sharing. Through Corona’s legal machinations, Libarios blew his opponent away.
What does the IBP, under Libarios, want anyway?
For the President to keep quiet while Corona and his fellow Arroyo appointees subvert the Constitution and the rule of law at every opportunity?
That’s what Corona and seven of his cohorts did when they issued a TRO last November 15 that would have allowed former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to leave for abroad ostensibly to seek medical treatment.
Good thing that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima promptly ordered the Immigration Bureau to stop the Arroyo couple from leaving, thus foiling an elaborate escape plan to avoid prosecution for high crimes such as plunder and electoral sabotage.
And that’s what the exact same coven of Arroyo appointees did when the SC issued another TRO recently preventing the Senate sitting as an impeachment court from looking into Corona’s dollar deposits.
The IBP has no right to demand that PNoy stop talking about Corona’s impeachment because as the head of the executive branch, this President leads in fighting corruption wherever it occurs, unlike another President who led in committing corruption, wherever she could do it.
As the impeachment trial progresses, it becomes ever more evident that Corona has millions stashed away in expensive real estate properties and fat bank accounts which he does not declare in his SALNs. This alone already qualifies as a high crime that merits his prompt removal from office.
If the Supreme Court can send to jail ordinary government workers submitted incomplete or inaccurate SALNs, should it make an exception in case for Corona?
Of course not, precisely because he is the Chief Justice, he must be held to a higher standard of integrity and probity. A dishonest Chief Justice does not deserve to sit a minute longer in such high office.
Bantay Gloria Network spokesperson Risa Hontiveros says that “Corona personifies corruption in the judiciary. And the President is well within his mandate to rebuke Corona for failing to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.”
For PNoy to keep quiet is to allow corruption in the judiciary to persist. And corruption persists because we have a Chief Justice who is himself under a cloud of doubt for having accumulated millions in ill-gotten wealth as confirmed by testimonies in the current impeachment trial.
The IBP national leadership, on the other hand, has no credibility at all. Two of their chapters in the Visayas, Cebu and Bohol, are openly supporting the impeachment trial. At least five former presidents of the IBP have openly called for Corona’s impeachment to proceed in a recent newspaper advertisement. So, why is Libarios still so adamant in defending Corona?
What else can one expect?
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Three stalwarts of the Catholic Church — Lipa Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles, Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz and Malolos Bishop Jose F. Oliveros — all Gloria favorites who were treated specially during her reign, recently urged an end to the impeachment trial for the reason that the government has allegedly neglected economic and social issues.
First of all, they ought to realize that we are not a religious state; in fact, our Constitution stresses that the separation of Church and State is “inviolable”! This means that while Messrs. Arguelles, Cruz and Oliveros (as citizens) can voice their opinion but the fact that they represent themselves as Bishops violates the Constitution. Perhaps, one day, we will have a President who will send such religious leaders to jail for violating our Constitution!
They should stop interfering in state affairs and concentrate instead on spiritual matters. By asking the government to stop the impeachment trial, are they saying that our President should ignore the corruption in our judiciary and that Corona should remain as Chief Justice despite clear evidence that he has amassed a fortune in ill-gotten wealth, just as they revered Gloria despite all the proof that she was not an admirable leader? One wonders how they would have reacted to a Jesus who drove the merchants from the temple?
The bishops are wrong. For the judiciary to normalize into an honest one, we need to make an example of the big fishes and what could be a bigger one than the CJ himself. Clearly, although this is not a charge in the impeachment complaint, he has a lot of unexplainable wealth, which could only have been the fruits of extra-legal and even illegal transactions. Corona and his corrupt cohorts are the ones hindering economic and social reforms that the bishops seem to only pretend they want the government to pursue.
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The Lourdes School Quezon City Alumni Association Batch 1987 is inviting all alumni to party LOUD and LONG! The Grand Alumni Homecoming happening on February 25, 2012 at the elementary quadrangle. Thanksgiving mass at 6 pm. Party onwards. For inquiries and table reservations, please call LSQCAA secretariat at 682 1883 or call 09175759346. Visit the website at www.lsqcaa.org.
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hvp 02.23.12Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at email@example.com