Monday, February 16, 2004

Rumors of a disqualification
With vicious rumors circulating left and right about the alleged Malacanang predetermination of FPJ's citizenship, the Supreme Court should be hurling contempt of court charges to just about everybody--starting with Atty. Estelito Mendoza, who warned on primetime TV that an adverse decision would unleash chaos. (Atty. Leonard de Vera did exactly the same thing when he said that an SC decision declaring the Anti-Plunder Law unconstitutional would unleash chaos and People Power, and he was cited for indirect contempt by the Supreme Court and fined P20,000.)

What is especially galling is that these rumors currently circulating are being given credence by people who are presumed to be in the know. Their credence betrays their distrust and low opinion of the Supreme Court. Is our Supreme Court really this week and pliable that lawyers who have invested their lifetimes in the practice of law are all to ready to believe that our Supreme Court takes orders?

If the Supreme Court were a totally honorable institution, rumors of this type would have been nipped in the bud. That these rumors bubble up to become the stuff of front-page headlines only shows that despite our paeans to the rule of law we as a people do not really buy that justice-for-all claptrap.

Exactly what are the indications that the SC will decide against FPJ's citizenship? None but alleged insider rumors. The choice of amici curiae though can be more revealing. At least one of them, Dean Joaquin Bernas of the Ateneo, would be sharing the opinion that FPJ is qualified. And there seems to be no clear indications that the other three friends of the court--Justice Mendoza, Prof Balane, Dean Magallona--would be tendering diametrically opposite opinions. The purpose of all these rumors seems to be nothing more than to put on hold the money contributions flooding FPJ's coffers.

What happens though if, in any event, the SC disqualifies FPJ? Rumors of chaos and People Power scenarios are highly exaggerated. The combined FPJ and Erap crowds are simply not enough to overturn the present political dispensation--the unpopularity of GMA considered (read Conrado de Quiros's column which raises some doubts on this). As UP Prof Alex Magno is wont to point out, in People Power, it is not only the quantity but the quality of the crowd that counts. It is sad but the FPJ crowd of politically dispossessed may have the numbers but it doesn't have the quality to stage a successful People Power.

Incidentally, Raul Roco seems to be buoyed up by the prospect of FPJ's disqualification. He is confident that the electorate would choose him over the president in a mano a mano fight.

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