Two lawyers had it coming from PRRD recently. And mind you, I think they deserved it.
Let me start with former Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner (PACC) Manuelito Luna. His fault was he assumed that PRRD was like another traditional politician who would want his ego massaged regularly. He probably thought that he would earn brownie points from the President by attacking Vice President Leni Robredo for helping in this time of COVID-19. He should have known better. While the President is a darn good politician, he is also not up for reelection and has repeatedly said that the presidency is the end of the line for him. He has become a statesman. And while he is capable of very strong emotions against those who tirelessly oppose him just for the heck of it, he also knows when to play politics and when to become a statesman. Anyone who tries to help in this most challenging time should be recognized and appreciated. That’s why he has gone on television at least twice to thank the frontliners and the private companies that have given assistance. He may not have mentioned VP Leni’s efforts, but I think it’s because in his mind, all those in government should do their darn best to help the people and not expect to be thanked for their efforts. So, when Atty. Luna asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the VP for allegedly arrogating powers of the national government, the President did not think twice about it and sacked the PACC commissioner. And rightfully so.
Now is not the time for politics. Everyone in government, and even those in the private sector, should marshal all their resources to help our countrymen who, for the first time in peacetime, literally had to stop earning a leaving. Come to think of it, our predicament now is worse than during war times. The laws of war state that despite the existence of an armed conflict, the civilian population should be allowed to live their lives as usual to the extent possible. This includes allowing them to work for a living.
The people can’t even do that now even if they want to.
From what little I know of the President after working with him closely for a year, that decision to sack Atty. Luna was quintessential Digong. He knows when to engage in politics, and he knows that now is the time just to be of service to the people. I am sure the dilawans could not believe it themselves, but the President, aside from sacking Luna, even said that the VP was doing the right thing in providing transportation and personal protective equipment to health workers and food packs to the people. That’s why he also distanced himself from the NBI’s summons to Mayor Vico Sotto. Although he said that he does not micromanage, I think he has sent the message to the NBI not to hinder the efforts of anyone in their desire to serve others.
At the same time, the President also vented his anger at a self-proclaimed champion of human rights who lost his bid for the Senate despite his pedigree. Quite frankly, I thought the President should have just left him alone since judging from the number of votes he got in the last elections despite his revered surname, it is clear that the people do not take him seriously anyway. I’m sure this losing senatoriable is tickled to the bones with the attention given to him by the President. But the latter also intended to send the same message when he called this losing senatoriable for his large teeth. He was saying the same thing: now is not the time for politics. Shut your damn mouth if you cannot be of assistance in this time of COVID-19.
I think the Integrated Bar of the Philippines should already investigate this lawyer. There has always been a rule in legal ethics against soliciting clients. Already, he was disowned by his own clients when he filed a Writ of Kalikasan against the Chinese presence in Panatag Shoal at the Supreme Court at that. His clients said they had no idea what the petition was all about. This time, the President called him out after he openly and publicly offered his services to persons who were apparently charged with spreading false news under the Bayanihan Act. I have represented the media very often in my 30 years of practice but I have not, fortunately, resorted to this kind of solicitation. I did not have to do so because I married a journalist who knows those who needed our services. But going beyond ethics, the message of the President was clear: veer away from partisan politics at this time of COVID-19. Help if you can and otherwise, quarantine your mouth and do not become part of the problem.
I’m sure those in the human rights community will hate me even more for this column. Quite frankly, I do not give a hoot. I like PRRD because he is unpretentious and acts as a stateman when the country needs one. I think the President had to do what he just did to prove to these two lawyers his point.
People: let’s be part of the solution and not be part of the problem.