The first big national security concern of 2012
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-01-03

The SWS (Social Weather Stations) reported that 95 percent of Filipinos are entering 2012 with hope versus 4 percent who are entering 2012 with fear. The New Year is always associated with hope but the SWS survey showed a record high optimism that surpassed previous marks since 2003. Most significant is that Mindanao and Metro Manila registered a record high on optimism as well as the Class E (from 89 percent to 93 percent), the poorest of the poor.

There has to be a political component in that all-time high optimism. Your Chair Wrecker’s assessment is as follows: 

1. Filipinos are convinced that reformist President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) will remain steadfast on his campaign promises and bring us to the Promised Land where every vote is properly counted, where every voice is heard, where every family eats three nutritious meals a day and send their children to school and where crooks are in jail and not holding public offices.

2. Seeing the lopsided surveys favoring P-Noy in his initiative to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Rene Corona — that also translates to Filipinos seeing presidential political will to pave DAANG MATUWID (straight path). Many see justice finally being served to all, including the high and mighty — what with former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) under hospital arrest, former Comelec Chairman Ben Abalos under arrest and Retired General Jovito Palparan now a wanted man.

3. Filipinos are beginning to feel the progress that P-Noy promised. Unemployment is down to 6.3 percent (from 7.1 percent). There were 75 percent less strikes in 2011, a phenomenal feat that should attract more investors. The S & P gave us a credit upgrade — an expression of faith in P-Noy’s fiscal policies. Rice sufficiency will be attained by 2013. While other currencies are having a roller coaster ride due to the global recession, our Peso has remained stable at around P43 to US$1. The poor must be feeling already the benefits of the CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer) Program. In the 18 months of the P-Noy administration, there have been no scandals like the NBN-ZTE overpriced contract and the Fertilizer and Chopper scams of the GMA regime.

4. P-Noy’s over 70 percent approval and trust ratings after 18 months on the job underscore the good rapport that he has developed with his “Bosses” — the Filipino people.

Despite the positive outlook, 2012 could still be a year of frustration for P-Noy. This is the year when P-Noy hopes to get a better functioning judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, should the impeachment process succeed. However, the impeachment trial is fraught with uncertainties that could spawn extreme political repercussions. The CJ Rene Corona impeachment trial is to be regarded as the first big national security concern of 2012.

CJ Corona doesn’t have the capability to threaten or topple the P-Noy government. Outside of his spokesman Midas Marquez and IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) ally, Roan Libarios, the CJ neither commands a big public support base nor can he order the police and the army to follow him as their Commander in Chief.

GMA and her allies cannot also mount a serious destabilization move. In the December 2011 SWS survey, GMA registered her lowest net trust rating — negative 62 percent. Well versed in intelligence and national security, P-Noy has all their moves factored and their operatives are being closely monitored. GMA and her allies cannot mount a coup even if they poured P1billion as incentive.
However, CJ Corona and GMA have the capability to unleash an extreme situation that could push our country to seek an out-of-the-box solution. We speak here of an out-of-the-box solution that does not favor the cause of the CJ and GMA but could lead our country into an unwanted political track.

Filipinos will follow intently the impeachment trial and any unexpected twist that’s perceived as a move to unjustly exonerate the CJ or preempt the impeachment trial could trigger unsavory reactions beyond the control of the P-Noy government. A Supreme Court TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) stopping the impeachment trial could be that trigger. A Senate acquittal of the CJ that does not conform to what have been presented in the impeachment trial could provoke a public outrage similar to what happened in January 2001 during the Joseph Estrada impeachment trial.

In the impeachment trial, the legal team of the CJ must convincingly debunk all the articles of the impeachment complaint. Otherwise, Filipinos won’t accept an acquittal verdict. The Senators (sitting as judges) and the lawyers from both parties should bear in mind that their arguments must not only be well supported by jurisprudence but must be able to convince Filipinos — the ultimate jurists of the trial — to accept their point of view. In this regard, because of what the various media polls tell us — the bigger burden is placed on the CJ’s legal team.

This row with the Supreme Court is seen by many Filipinos as a struggle to reform the judiciary, long perceived as a den of corruption where decisions are for sale. In this impeachment battle, Filipinos see P-Noy as their champion and CJ Rene Corona as the obstacle to their aspirations.

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  Previous Columns:

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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