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Robredo, Lagman, Monsod, et al. discredited by SC decision

“Instead of meddling in the franchise issue, Hilbay should explain why he continued to receive millions of pesos in allowances when he was the solicitor general.




Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Sonny Angara, Representatives Edcel Lagman, Carlos Zarate and Rufus Rodriguez, defeated 2019 senatorial candidates Florin Hilbay and Jose Manuel Diokno, and former 1986 Constitutional Commissioner Christian Monsod are lawyers who do not understand the Constitution.

In the weeks before and after Congress decided against the renewal of the legislative franchise of the ABS-CBN broadcasting empire, they all spoke up in favor of the network’s franchise renewal for all the wrong reasons in the world — violation of the network’s press freedom, actual entitlement of the network to a renewal of its franchise, and job security of the network’s personnel.

Even before the controversy got heated, ABS-CBN filed a petition in the Supreme Court in the hope of obtaining, first, a restraining order and, thereafter, a favorable final decision, which would have allowed the network to continue its operations even without a legislative franchise.

Well, the SC did not issue any restraining order, and just last 25 August 2020, the SC released its decision dismissing the ABS-CBN petition and, in the process, discrediting all the arguments raised by Robredo and her confederates.

The decision of the SC in the ABS-CBN case exposed the embarrassing inability of Robredo to comprehend basic constitutional doctrines governing press freedom and the legislative process, which probably explains why she flunked the Bar examination the first time she took it.

It also indicates that this incompetent high-ranking public official will exploit every opportunity to make populist remarks, in the hope of getting free publicity and the electoral support of whoever is misguided enough to believe her.

The SC decision is even more embarrassing for Monsod, who was a member of the unelected 1986 Constitutional Commission, which drafted the current Constitution.

Last June, Monsod insisted on live national television that the non-renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise is unconstitutional. Like Pangilinan and Angara, Monsod conveniently kept quiet about a conflict of interest on his part. Pangilinan’s wife has business interests in ABS-CBN, Angara’s wife is employed in ABS-CBN, and Monsod used to be an employee of the Lopez family, which owns the network.

What happened to Monsod shows that it does not necessarily follow that one who participates in the writing of the Constitution actually understands what is written in it.

As for the usually pompous Lagman, Zarate and Rodriguez, they are all probably quiet in the meantime so as to avoid getting ridiculed in the aftermath of the decision of the SC.

Instead of meddling in the franchise issue, Hilbay should explain why he continued to receive millions of pesos in allowances when he was the solicitor general, despite a notice of disallowance repeatedly issued to his office by the Commission on Audit.

Before speaking up about the legal aspects of the franchise issue, Diokno should restudy the ethical standards of the legal profession. People have not forgotten that in June 2019, Diokno was scolded by the SC for representing “clients” who were not even aware that Diokno was their lawyer.

Senators Grace Poe and Risa Hontiveros also questioned the legality of the non-renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise, but their legally untenable arguments should be expected because, unlike Robredo, et al., these two are not lawyers. Besides, Poe and Hontiveros have always been political opportunists who will say anything to attract public attention.

Representative Joselito Atienza likewise raised hollow legal issues in support of the ABS-CBN franchise renewal, but that’s also expected because he is not a lawyer. He is an architect by education, and he is infamous for ordering the demolition of the iconic Art Deco-style Jai Alai Building in Manila in July 2000, when he was the mayor of the city.

Showbiz celebrities Coco Martin, Angel Locsin, Agot Isidro and Ces Drilon also joined the legal debate, completely unaware of the import of what they were saying while basking in their celebrity status. Even if they are not lawyers, they should still read the decision of the SC to discover the folly of the sheer nonsense of their public statements.