To those who expect that there will be great changes in the Aquino administration, they are in for a disappointment. Like a true blue politician, P-noy watered down the recommendations of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) report.
As expected, he backed down from the IIRC recommendation of filing criminal charges against his political ally, the powerful Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim. P-noy merely recommends the filing of administrative charges against the mayor.
He let Vice Mayor Isko Moreno go scot-free. The Vice Mayor should have been charged of incompetence, to say the least. He did not even know anything about the functions of a Crisis Management Committee, of which he was supposed to be the ex-officio vice chair.
P-noy also let his shooting buddy, Undersecretary (the unofficial ‘Interior Secretary’), go off the hook. According to Presidential Legal Counsel Ed de Mesa, “there was nothing we could attribute to Puno. He wasn’t with [the] Crisis Committee, all he did was relay to [the] President.” Funny, just after the incident, Puno was claiming that he was on top of the situation. He claimed to know everything that was going on and that he was relaying the information to the President.
Is the President’s legal team trying to tell the people that Mr. Puno had nothing to do with the incident even though he was relaying information to the President? Is he the one in-charge of the national police or is he just a messenger? If he was relaying information to the president, then he knew what was going on. And since he knew what was going on, shouldn’t he have done something about it since he was the Undersecretary of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the top government official in-charge of the police (under an unconventional agreement among the President, the Secretary of DILG and himself)?
Philippine National Police chief General Verzosa was also found guiltless by the presidential counsels. Leaving the hostage situation in Manila for a conference in Mindanao was not a crime, they say. After all, according to De Mesa, Gen. Verzosa was not the immediate superior of the Ground Commander, Gen. Magtibay.
“He (Verzosa) didn’t have to drop everything for hostage crisis,” said de Mesa. “Even PNoy did not agree that everybody should’ve dropped everything to solve the hostage crisis,” he added. Yes, the hostage situation only involved the lives of more than a dozen people, mostly foreigners. A conference or seminar in Mindanao is much more important.
The IIRC recommended that six people (Generals Magtibay, Santiago and Verzosa, Col. Yebra, Maj. Pascual and Undersecretary Puno) should be charged administratively and further investigations should be conducted by the pertinent agencies to determine criminal liability. But the President’s Executive Secretary Ochoa and Chief Legal Counsel de Mesa found Verzosa and Puno not liable to any charges. For the rest, the presidential advisers concluded that only administrative charges be filed against them.
Being politically allied to the previous administration, the Ombudsman and her deputy were not so lucky. The President will endorse the IIRC report to the House of Representatives for appropriate action. Meanwhile, Deputy Ombudsman will be further investigated and charged accordingly.
SEPARATE HOSTAGES DEATH FROM ASSAULT SAYS DE MESA
Mr. de Mesa said “the blunder or kapalpakan happened on the assault. The hostages were already killed by then.”
Huh?!! Is De Mesa and the presidential counsellors saying that there was no blunder or kapalpakan in the negotiations? So what caused Mendoza to go berserk and kill the hostages?
CHARGES WILL NOT PROSPER
The Presidential lawyers are saying that after reviewing the IIRC report, they decided not to file criminal charges because they said those charges will not prosper even at the prosecutor’s level. Really? Have they asked the prosecutors’ office, which is under the Justice Secretary? How is it possible that the Justice Secretary herself recommended the filing of criminal charges or further investigation to determine possible filing of criminal charges yet these two legal “experts” of the President did not?
Are we to believe that Messrs Ochoa and de Mesa are better lawyers than Justice Secretary and former Human Rights Commission chair Laila de Lima and IBP governor Roan Libarios?
ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGES WILL CERTAINLY NOT PROSPER
What the public can be sure of is that the administrative charges to be filed against the Mayor and the police generals will NOT prosper. Why? Because our justice system is deficient, to say the least. Besides, who will investigate them, the Ombudsman? That was the very root of the Mendoza affair.
But of course, the small fry like Major Pascual or even maybe (just maybe) Col. Yebra would be “sacrificed” for political purposes.
NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE
Mr. de Mesa, in his press conference, kept on repeating that the law or the legal process is “not an exact science”. What is he talking about? Whatever he was talking about (the law or the legal process) is NOT A SCIENCE AT ALL.
But that does not mean that the law is arbitrary and subject to the interpretations of any lawyer.
Legal laws are even more exact than “exact sciences” like Physics or Chemistry because man-made laws are WRITTEN DOWN in as plain a language as possible. On the other hand, many laws in the hard sciences cannot give correct answers if applied in inappropriate circumstances. Newton’s Law, for example, is not valid in atomic or nuclear physics or in physical cosmology (a branch of astronomy). Physicists are still trying to figure out the laws that would explain the behavior of such things as quarks, gluons, superstrings, black holes, dark matter, etc. “Legal laws”, on the other hand, are found in books and documents — the Constitution, Revised Penal Code, Supreme Court decisions, etc.
In the legal process, all the laws are EXACTLY written down. What cannot be predicted is the JUDGEMENT or DECISION of the judge, justices or, in this case, presidential legal advisers.
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