Revisiting the Sandiganbayan and Binay’s Graft Case

 

By Yvonne Click for Options

Sometime ago the news media reported the pronouncement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno that she does not serve the President. Presumably she does not serve the Vice-president also. The subtext of her statement is that her loyalty belongs to the Filipino people and our Republic.

I admire Chief Justice Sereno’s stance of judicial independence and her effort to cleanse the Judiciary, as exemplified by the recent ouster of former Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong for his link to accused plunderer Janet Lim Napoles.

bribing-a-judge

The Sandiganbayan has been mired in controversy. The Supreme Court, en banc, previously disciplined three Sandiganbayan justices – Gregory Ong was fined P15,000 with stern warning for procedural irregularity, Jose Hernandez was admonished with warning for simple misconduct, and Rodolfo Ponferrada was warned for simple misconduct, in A.M. No. 08-19-SB-J. [Supreme Court Case: Omsbudman vs Ong, Hernandez, and Ponferrada]

In deciding that case, the Supreme Court included this FINAL NOTE:

“It becomes timely to reiterate that an honorable, competent and independent Judiciary exists to administer justice in order to promote the stability of government and the well-being of the people. We warn, therefore, that no conduct, act, or omission on the part of anyone involved in the administration of justice that violates the norm of public accountability and diminishes the faith of the people in the Judiciary shall be countenanced. Public confidence in the judicial system and in the moral authority and integrity of the Judiciary is of utmost importance in a modern democratic society; hence, it is essential for all judges, individually and collectively, to respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and to strive to enhance and maintain confidence in the judicial system.”

It is in the spirit of the Supreme Court’s FINAL NOTE that I urge Chief Justice Sereno to revisit the conduct of the Sandiganbayan in its handling of criminal case SB-06-CRM-0472 against former Makati Mayor, and now Vice-President, Jejomar Binay, or perhaps for the Office of the Ombudsman to reopen that case.

There have been many allegations, past and present, of massive acts of corruption committed by some government officials, and private contractors and suppliers in Makati. Some of the allegations have been the subject of recent Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee hearings.

Looking back to years 2000 and 2001, an audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) found large scale overpricing in the purchases of office partitions and furniture for the Makati City government. A special task force (STFLGUs) issued some recommendations to address the irregular purchases by the city. Among the recommendations made by Heide Mendoza, then State Auditor V and Team Leader, were: “(1) Appropriate charge of conspiracy should be filed against the officials and suppliers concerned for their participation, (2) The members of the Committee on Awards should be held responsible for their failure to judiciously perform the activities necessary to ensure that the interest of the government is adequately protected, and (3) Appropriate criminal/administrative charges should be filed against the City Officials involved and against the suppliers, for the anomalous transactions.”

Separately, in its Annual Audit Report on the City of Makati for the year ended 2003, the COA Audit Certificate states:

“As discussed in the report, the correctness and reliability of the year-end balance of Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE) account amounting to P15,558,426,032.80, representing 82% of the total assets, could not be ascertained since the amount did not reconcile with the year-end inventory report of P13,047,102,436.40. The costs of the demolished buildings amounting to P101,312,713.00 and other disposed property totaling P37,952,794.55 were still carried in the books, thus overstating the asset account. Further, purchases of supplies and materials totaling P156,021,831.42 were directly charged to expense account, thus understating the inventory account by the costs of the year-end unused supplies totaling  P15,929,218.70. Moreover, the accuracy of the balance of Cash in Bank, Local Currency Current Account amounting to P415,925,292.35 could not be determined due to the non-submission of the year-end Bank Reconciliation Statements and non-reconciliation  of the treasury and accounting records.”

“Furthermore, transaction documents composed of receipts, disbursement vouchers, and payrolls from August to December 2003 totaling P5.3 billion or equivalent to 41% of the total transactions were not submitted as of year end thus, the propriety/validity of these transactions were not verified.”

“In view of the scope restriction and the materiality of the unaudited transactions in which no alternative procedure could be applied, we do not express an opinion of the fairness of the presentation of the financial statements.”

With the recent Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-committee hearings on other wide-ranging allegations of corruption, like the alleged overpricing of the Makati parking building, it is apparent that Makati has now become the notorious leader in the number and scope of anomalous government transactions over a long period of time. No other city in the Philippines even comes close.

In response to previous COA findings of anomalous and irregular transactions, the Office of the Ombudsman filed a criminal case against Binay, other Makati government officials, and some private contractors based on a complaint initiated by former Makati Vice-Mayor Bobby Brillante. The case was in connection with alleged overpriced purchases of city hall furniture and office partitions amounting to P60.4 million which the Ombudsman claimed to be P9 million overpriced.

That case was raffled at the Sandiganbayan on October 28, 2006 to the Third Division then composed of Associate Justices Godofredo Legaspi, now retired, Efren de la Cruz, and the late Norberto Geraldez. The Division dismissed the case on October 30, 2006 for lack of probable cause. Brillante assailed the quick and unexpected dismissal, and alleged that Binay bribed the three judges P10 million each to have the charges dismissed.

A portion of Brillante’s allegation taken from court records states:

“But miracles of all miracles, the Third division dismissed the case with extreme haste on October 30, through the alleged intense lobbying of one Sandiganbayan Justice Diosdado M. Peralta of the First Division without first resolving the two (2) pending motions, one of which is set for hearing at 2:00 PM, November 2, Justice Peralta, by the way, is the brother of Vissia Marie Peralta-Aldon, who is the Personnel Chief of the City Hall, who is co-conspirator in the P113 million Ghost Employees anomaly. So, it is understandable why Justice Peralta will move heaven and earth including the payment of P10 million for every Justice in the third division just to have Binav acquitted prematurely.”

[Supreme Court Case: Roberto G. Brillante versus Sandiganbayan and Justices Legaspi, Dela Cruz and Geraldez]

For making the bribery allegation, Brillante was charged and found guilty of indirect contempt by the same Sandiganbayan Third Division justices. He was fined P30,000 and sentenced to six months imprisonment which the Supreme Court reduced to one month in its decision on September 2010. Binay, on the other hand, filed libel charge against Brillante.

Lost in the fog of the indirect contempt and libel charges against Brillante is the question of whether the Third Division justices acted judiciously in the case against Binay. A collateral question is whether there is any truth to the bribery allegation, should it be found that the justices acted in bad faith in dismissing the case.

According to a recent news report, Brillante has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to revisit the criminal case filed against Binay that was dismissed without prejudice in 2006. But more importantly, I think, the Chief Justice should initiate an investigation into the conduct of the then Third Division pursuant to her vision of reforming the Judiciary. [GMA News: Ex-Makati vice mayor Bobby Brillante asks Ombudsman to re-open Binay graft case]

There are many compelling reasons that point to the need to revisit the conduct of the Sandiganbayan in the Binay case:

I – THE HASTY CASE DISMISSAL IS HIGHLY IRREGULAR AND SUSPICIOUS

The raffle of the criminal case was done in the afternoon of Friday, October 28, 2006. The decision dismissing the case was issued on Monday morning, October 30, 2006.

To put this in perspective, let us compare how long it took the Sandiganbayan to decide on similar criminal cases from the raffle date to the date the decisions on probable cause were made.

Raffles

Although it looks like the Third Division dismissed the Binay case within two working days, it most likely took about 5 hours at the most, or 2 hours at the least, for the court to investigate and decide on the case. Here’s why:

The Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan (effective October 1, 2002) provides, among others, the following rules:

“RULE IV – SESSIONS AND TRIALS

Section 3. Regular Court Sessions.  –

(b) Divisions – Regular sessions for the trial of cases brought to and cognizable by the Sandiganbayan shall be from 8:30 A.M. to 12:00 noon or from 2:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. from Monday to Friday.”

“RULE XII – ASSIGNMENT, DISTRIBUTION AND CONSOLIDATION OF CASES

Section 1. Distribution of Cases – All cases filed with the Sandiganbayan shall be distributed among the five (5) Divisions for hearing and decision by regular raffle at 1:30 P.M. of every Friday or if that day is non-working day, on the next succeeding day, at the session hall of the First Division.” [Supreme Court: Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan]

The case was raffled at 1:30 P.M. on Friday, October 28, 2006. The hearing would have followed immediately from 2:00 P.M. to 4:30 P.M. that afternoon consisting of 2.5 hours only. The hearing would have resumed on Monday morning, October 30 from 8:30 A.M. to 12:00 noon consisting of 3.5 hours only. And this is assuming all those hours were spent on the case.

The news about the case dismissal leaked by Monday mid-morning but did not hit the newswires until that early evening of October 30. Typically each Sandiganbayan Division allots only one hour of hearing per session (morning or afternoon) for each case because of other calendared cases to be heard as well. Thus, the Third Division would have spent between 2 hours (most likely) to 6 hours (very unlikely) to hear, deliberate, and decide the case – unless it conducted a highly irregular session.

SandiganBayan

The case was raffled among five Divisions, each Division had a 20% chance of getting the case. It would be preposterous then to assume that the Third Division would have pushed out its scheduled caseload ahead of time in anticipation of getting the Binay case. So how could it decide immediately on the issue of probable cause on October 30, just hours after the case was raffled, when it had other cases to hear as well? What motivated or induced it to act with haste as it did?

In contrast, the cases against Senators Revilla, Estrada, and Enrile were raffled among four Divisions of the Sandiganbayan. A Division then headed by Justice Ong inhibited from the raffle because of Ong’s reported link to Janet Lim Napoles who is a co-defendent with the senators. So each Division has a 75% chance of getting one of the three cases. With the national attention focused on the charges against the senators, there was strong anticipation on the case raffle, thus the Divisions could have pushed out their other previously scheduled caseload to fast track the senators’ cases.  Yet in spite of all the preparations, the fastest any Division was able to decide on the issue of probable cause was 5 working days in the Revilla case. The Enrile case took 16 working days to decide.

Decision time:  Few hours for Binay, several days for each of the three accused senators!

II – THE SANDIGANBAYAN THIRD DIVISION ABUSED ITS JUDICIAL AUTHORITY

The Third Division charged Brillante with indirect contempt. The same Division tried, found him guilty, and sentenced him to six months imprisonment. Many viewed this as a payback to Brillante for accusing the justices of receiving bribes from Jejomar Binay. On appeal, the Supreme Court reduced the sentence from six months to one month – an 83% reduction in prison sentence.

The Third Division abused its judicial authority by acting as the accuser, prosecutor, and judge in the indirect contempt charge. Moral wisdom dictates that the Division should have inhibited itself from the case, and should have asked another SB division to try the indirect contempt charge.

The Division also showed its vindictiveness by sentencing Brillante to six months in prison that the Supreme Court later found to be excessive and reduced to one month.

Not to be lost in the scrutiny of the decisions made by the Third Division is the big disparity in the timeline of its disposition of both the Binay criminal case and the Brillante indirect contempt case.

In the Binay case, the Third Division quickly found lack of probable cause in a matter of hours after the case raffle, but in the Brillante case the Division took months to decide on the case.

In the indirect contempt against Brillante, the charge was initiated in a resolution on November 7, 2006. The first hearing was conducted on November 16, 2006, and the case was decided on September 24, 2007.

Indeed it is outrageous that a much more serious criminal case against Binay was hastily decided in a matter of hours, whereas a relatively minor offense of indirect contempt against Brillante took almost a year to be decided.

III – THE SANDIGANBAYAN ENGAGED IN COVER-UP

October 30, 2006 started like any other Monday morning but it was bound to be a day that will tarnish the reputation of the Sandiganbayan and its justices for many years ahead.

By mid-Monday morning, the employees, and some visitors, started to huddle in small groups at the Sandiganbayan. Then the small groups grew bigger, just like when they gather for their regular flag ceremony. The reason: someone just leaked the news that the case against Binay was dismissed.

Questions were flying around: How could it be? Wasn’t it that the case was just raffled? Wasn’t it that boxes of documents and evidence were just brought to the office of the Third Division? How could the Division reached a decision practically within hours after the raffle? Did they even have time to go through the voluminous case documents? Did the justices jump-start the Binay case ahead of other previously scheduled cases?

The news media on regular assignment to the Sandiganbayan got wind of the leak and were also asking questions. They wanted confirmation or official statement about the dismissal but they were getting nowhere. Their restlessness reached the Presiding Judge who quietly convened an emergency meeting to address an emerging scandal. The scandal was less about the unexpected dismissal but more about its hastiness. It was seen as an over-kill that was certain to draw public attention and scrutiny.

The news of the case dismissal leaked in the morning and could no longer be contained. The game plan was to have a news blackout, and to delay and limit the official announcement as much as possible. Make it look like the Third Division spent more hours deliberating on the case than it actually did to deflect any suspicion of impropriety in the handling of the case.

Indeed, GMA Network was among the first to report the news of the dismissal but not until at 7:07 P.M on October 30, 2006.

Inquirer. Net issued a special report at 8:38 P.M. on October 30.

Ellen Tordesillas in a web post time-stamped at 9:57 on October 30, reported: “Just got a text from Joey Salgado, with Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay’s media office: Sandiganbayan third division junked graft case against Mayor Binay for lack of probable cause. Notice that Tordesillas got her information from Salgado and not from the Sandiganbayan. It makes you ask: why did it come from Salgado and not officially from Sandiganbayan?

It was not publicly known if Salgado was also the source of GMA Network and Inquirer.Net reports.

There were speculations that the mid-morning news leak came from the Binay camp that could not control their jubilation. They were seen as gloating over the case dismissal, and wanted to send a strong message that Binay was well-connected, well funded, and was untouchable – a message that still reverberates up to these days.

The big question is: Why did the Sandiganbayan covered-up the news leak?

IV – THERE IS NO TRANSPARENCY IN THE OCTOBER 30 2006 DECISION

The October 30, 2006 decision of the Third Division dismissing the graft case against Binay is suspiciously missing in the Resolutions/Decisions for the year 2006 published in the official web site of Sandiganbayan. This creates an appearance of cover-up. Refer to:

The Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan provides that:

“the decision of the Sandiganbayan may be published in the Official Gazette in the language in which they have been originally written. The syllabi for the decisions shall be prepared by the Clerk of Court in consultation with the writers thereof.” (See RULE XIII MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS, Section 1. Publication of Decision.) [Supreme Court: Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan]

Likewise, a search of the Philippine Official Gazette, or elsewhere in the web, for that October 30, 2006 decision did not produce any hit.

Did someone – a government official, a justice of the court, or anyone in a position of authority – suppress the publication of that decision?

AN ALLEGATION OF BRIBERY MAY BE PROVEN BY INDIRECT OR CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION

An allegation of bribery is very difficult to prove – usually for lack of documentary evidence or witness account. Who in their right mind would offer, or accept, a bribe directly? The allegation that Binay bribed the Third Division justices to dismiss his case is no different in its difficulty to be proven in our court system.

But an allegation of bribery on a government official may be proven by indirect or circumstantial evidence in the court of public opinion. Did he have the means, the opportunity, and the motive to bribe the justices? Is he going to benefit directly and immensely from the alleged act? Is there a pattern of him being accused of bribing other persons, in other similar cases?

Did the justices commit acts that were so outrageously and suspiciously unusual and irregular that the only logical explanation for their conduct was if they were enticed, or induced, to act that manner? Was the event a singular act that could be attributed to an honest mistake, or was there a series of acts that point to a deliberate and systematic action?

These are the difficult questions that need to be asked and addressed.

Many Filipinos are frustrated by the widespread and rampart allegations of graft and corruption in the government, especially in the City of Makati.  The allegations are supported by COA audit reports, yet the prosecution of graft and corruption is oftentimes frustrated by the congruence of political patronage, judicial apathy, abuse of power, intimidation, and “money-talk”.

Indeed, it is imperative that the Supreme Court should revisit the conduct of the Sandiganbayan in its handling of Binay’s criminal case related to SB-06-CRM-0472, and that the Office of the Ombudsman should re-open the case, if we are to restore the people’s confidence in our judicial system.

 

Comments
83 Responses to “Revisiting the Sandiganbayan and Binay’s Graft Case”
  1. Art Montesa says:

    Hi Joe,
    I love this article. But I can’t help but wonder if perhaps your blog is being edited by someone (most probably a Filipino). I counted at least two glaring grammatical errors in this one article, when I found none in previous posts. “Why did the Sandiganbayan … covered up…” is one. “Did someone … suppresses…”” is the other one. And I think this one -“because of Ong’s reported link to Janet Lim Napoles who is a co-dependent with the senators.” should have read – “who is a co-defendant”. Were you dictating this article to someone? Thank you.
    Art Montesa

    • Socorro Q Hipolito says:

      Such prejudice towards Filipinos. What a shame!!!

    • Yvonne says:

      Hi Art,

      As you can see on the byline, I wrote this article and apologize for the grammatical errors. It is my first ever attempt to join Joe’s blog site. Yes, I’m a Fil-Am.

      • chit navarro says:

        Yvonne, grammar mistakes and all, the essence and the truth in your article is not at all diminished. CPM is coming up with excellent and investigative writers! Hooray!

        • sonny says:

          Ditto, chit N. Mr. Montesa must have been a copy editor once upon a time. Habits die hard. 🙂 Kudos to Yvonne for intent and delivery.

    • karl garcia says:

      The article was not written by Joe, for one. why not submit an article and hope no grammar police show up.

    • Joe America says:

      The grammar mistakes were mine as editor, for I had final review. I’ll make the corrections you have indicated. If you have done this kind of writing, especially when it is as thorough as this one, you know that the eyes tend to have a mind of their own and focus on the meanings and slide too easily over mistakes. I would hope readers would take this view, too, to look for meanings and advise me of errors as minor incidentals.

    • David Murphy says:

      I also noticed those grammatical errors and wondered about them. I think that Art’s point was that Joe’s blogs are usually remarkably free from grammatical and typographical errors so that these really stood out. The credit to Yvonne was easy to miss. Sp I think Art”s comments were completely appropriate. And Yvonne, these errors are trivial in contrast to the importance of the subject matter and the clarity with which it was presented. Please don’t let the comments about grammatical mistakes dissuade you from continuing to write. You already have the most important elements, such as organization of thought and clarity of expression. Grammatical rules such as agreement between verb tenses or genders are mechanical skills that come with time and experience and proof-reading is a discipline that is subject to the amount of time that is available. This was a great blog.

      • Joe America says:

        The blog has two fundamental principles:

        Articles should be well expressed and grammatically well composed. There is no editorial staff, and I welcome when people point out errors. I most appreciate it when people do that via the “contact us” tab. The reason has to do with the second principle.

        The second principle is that I absolutely don’t want to discourage those with a rudimentary command of English from commenting here. When people focus on grammar it is sure to intimidate some people from writing. Why would those of us fluent at English want to go elitist and say we don’t want to hear from ANYBODY who misses a comma or preposition. Man, put it in Tagalog or pigeon Chinese or street language. I don’t care. Get it in here.

        So, frankly, I don’t really like it when anybody focuses on the grammar rather than the issue. It is so petty, in relation to a wide range of commenters and open expression. In this case, it is Yvonne’s first blog here, and rather than dealing with the issue, we are dealing with this. It’s not courteous. It’s not respectful of the hard work she put into the article.

        • BFD says:

          Correct ka dyan…. 🙂

        • Yvonne says:

          I believe that education is a never ending process. I’m glad that I’m able to share something, and I get to learn something in return. To me it is a healthy exchange and no offense is taken. One apprehension I had when I wrote my first blog topic here was if no one would comment which would mean a lack of interest in the article. I’m glad that my apprehension is over.

          I have another blog topic in mind about a very well known person but, as others say, timing is everything.

    • Ori P says:

      I beg to disagree with your characterization. I was born and raised in Manila but attended a top school in the US. My American classmates excelled in butchering the English language when it came to spelling and syntax while we Filipinos were masters of mispronounced but perfectly written essays and reports.

    • fed-up says:

      Hi Joe,
      For me, the two grammar errors in Yvonne’s article are excusable. By nature, Filipinos are not fluent English speakers nor writers; since Tagalog as a language has no gender when spoken or written, most Filipinos habitually say “he”, when when referring to a woman in the pronoun form. Filipinos are not even fluent in speaking their own language (Tagalog); Who’s the Filipino who doesn’t say “ano” (“whatchamacallit”, a metaphor for something one cannot immediately recall to mind) when speaking?
      All things considered, I tip my hat to Yvonne for her excellently written article.

      • Joe America says:

        Yes, for sure there are few of us who can claim perfection, and few who are willing to put in the effort and good thought as Yvonne did. Thanks for recognizing her good works.

  2. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. In our country, the truism that “Justice delayed is justice denied” is incontrovertibly true.

    2. Take the Ampatuan massacre case (2009), now 5 years in the making… and still no light can be detected from the end of the tunnel.

    3. In the case of one Elenita Binay, four of seven cases against her at the Sandiganbayan have been revived. All of these cases stem from her reign as Makati mayor between 1998 – 2001. A longer tunnel.. thrice as long at this point, but no closer to the light.

    4. A new truism has now to be invented for her husband’s cases: “Quick justice is quack justice.”

    5. In his case, zero of five cases has either been withdrawn by the Ombudsman or dismissed by the Sandiganbayan. We are at the mouth of the tunnel… which has been boarded up.

    6. Chief Justice Sereno can be independent… but she cannot remain serene.
    *****

    • Yvonne says:

      Your points are all well-taken and I agree with you whole-heartedly, especially your last point – CJ Sereno can be independent but she cannot remain serene.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      An alternative to “Quick justice is quack justice”

      is: “Speedy justice is sleazy justice.”
      *****

      • Joe America says:

        I disagree with that. Indeed, lack of speed, and the fairness it assures, is the number one problem in Philippine justice. Slow justice, with witness forgetting and prosecutors and defense changing people, assures lousy rulings. Maybe, rather than speed, the type of justice that should be done away with is “rash”. Or some other word, perhaps.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Oh, no doubt at all that slow justice is the main problem. I was referring to this exception of the hasty dismissal of Binay’s case. Makes one wonder what other pathologies exist in Philippine-style justice – fast justice, slow justice, bought justice, under sentencing, over sentencing, un- or mis-applied laws, obsolete laws, unjust laws and no laws.

          Lady Justice is depicted as wearing a blindfold. In our country, her eyes have seemingly been plucked out.
          *****

          • Joe America says:

            In the US, political ideologies exist within judicial rulings, but judicial process is regimented no matter the politics. Here, it seems the processes are also infested with politics and even self-service (Ong). I argue the Supreme Court should hire John Grisham as Chief Guru and Mentor to judges to teach them how to take charge of their courts and set unmovable deadlines. Judges here seem like wimps, unable to lord it over the attorneys like Grisham’s crusty old farts.

  3. chit navarro says:

    Hello, Yvonne. You have the case all laid out for the SC Justices. We just need their decision. You put it so simple and easy to understand; with the supporting documents to ensure that the allegations are not hearsays; i.e., the report of Ellen Tordesillas, the GMA News Report, etc.

    I believe the Gregory Ong case was also resolved partly on circumstantial evidence and on testimonies of the employees of Janet Napoles. There was no direct document to show that he accepted the bribe, etc. Thus, your questions and explanation on indirect or circumstantial evidence are very relevant.

    I hope Bobby Brillante will use this in his filing to re-open the case.

    And it’s an excellent break from all the Mamasapano issues – let us not be diverted in the pursuit of truth to the corruption issues.

    • Yvonne says:

      Thank you chit. To be honest, I followed you here at Joe’s blog site.

      • chit navarro says:

        🙂 and I am sure you recognize also the others here, especially MRP… 🙂 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          Ahahahaha, if GRP had a Scout merit badge for every discussion thread he’s been thrown out of, he’d be an Eagle Scout for sure. I consider it an honor that he dignifies this blog with his dignified side, such as he can muster up. 🙂 Thanks for the laugh.

        • Yvonne says:

          Yes, I recognize the names of many others, that is why I feel at home already.

      • Tessa says:

        Hi Yvonne, i followed you here too! Sad that you left Ms. Raissa’s blog site. You and Johnny Lin are my favorite comments and also Chit @Ms. Raissa’s blog site. I’ve learned so much from you johnny. I left Phils. so young so now i am back home. Sometimes Parekoy’s get into my nerves also.

        • Joe America says:

          Welcome home, Tessa. Welcome to the blog, too. I suggest that all continue to support Raissa’s blog, and the good people there, as that is more important for the well-being of the nation than Parekoy. I just ignore him. It’s rather fun.

  4. karl garcia says:

    Good one Yvonne, when I read ” joe i emailed you something”, I was waiting for a blog entry, I am glad to be right.

  5. Joe America says:

    Yvonne, welcome to the esteemed roster of people who have taken that big step of putting an article out there, and by so doing, have demonstrated their special commitment to the well-being of the Philippines. You have laid out a case that is meticulous in showing how extraordinary were the circumstances surrounding the Binay case. The shockers for me were:

    – Resolving the case in a few hours.
    – Vindictive action by the court to get Brillante.

    The big hurdle is getting the Court’s attention. Generally they won’t act unless a case is filed by a harmed party. Brillante is the logical guy. But he’s been beaten up already. Can “the people” advance a case based on harm to the State represented by a corrupt court gone unpunished? I don’t know who would do that.

    For sure, the case is now out there in all its gory details. I hope someone in popular media digs it up, and someone else takes the rolled up Inquirer and thumps it on CJ Sereno’s desk and says, “IS THIS THE STYLE OF INDEPENDENCE YOU ASPIRE TOWARD?”

    Thanks for the wonderful research and well-presented case.

    • Yvonne says:

      Thanks Joe, I’m glad to participate in the discussions in your famous blog site.

      I’m thinking that perhaps sending some strong and persistent messages to our justices that we, the people, are watching their actions very closely more than at anytime before, and perhaps shaming those justices who make a mockery of our judicial system, will nudge them into undertaking some self-induced reforms. But I know it is just my wishful thinking.

  6. karl garcia says:

    Sonny,
    100% substance ..99% grammar yikes, yet you can bare with me.even with 50% substance 🙂

  7. Bing Garcia says:

    Thank you Yvonne for the article. You are helping the country.

  8. bauwow says:

    Thank you for this article Ma’am Yvonne. Hope senators Cayetano, Pimentel and Trillanes get to read this article.

    • BFD says:

      Thanks Yvonne for your tenacity and determination even in the midst of politically explosive situation in Mamasapano. It delights my heart that the anti-corruption group is alive and well in Raissa’s and Joe’s blog and I’m sure in many others as well.

  9. letlet says:

    The content of your post is absolutely meaty that the SC justices should use yours for further references in aid of legislation. The third division is enveloping the whole Sandiganbayan with foul smell, it stinks. We owe you so much for this amazing post.

    I wonder what is the ulterior motive / agenda of Art in focusing more on grammars than the issues / matters laid out on your highly informative and ultra pertinent post. Kudos to you.

    • Yvonne says:

      Thank you for your kind words letlet. If the people only knew what were going on at the Sandiganbayan, which is supposed to be our vanguard against graft and corruption, they would surely be very disgusted.

      What worries me most at this time is how the Sandiganbayan will carry on with the trial of the three senators accused of plunder.

      • Joe America says:

        The joint withdrawal of a whole panel at once, rejected by the SC, suggests these judges are political. The judges accountable for keeping the political system clean are themselves political. And some perhaps unclean.

    • sonny says:

      @ letlet, give Art time.

  10. Karl garcia says:

    I am afraid to be disagreeable here, but looking back in 2006 Binay was popular to those with anti Arroyo sentiment. No one questioned the quick decision before because many were actually glad that happened. That is what erap calls weather weather lang yan. Sorry for having this view, but I am always willing to listen and be guided accordingly.

    • Yvonne says:

      Yes, you are correct – “weather weather lang yan”. Our culture is set up in a way that we are usually dished out with unpalatable choices so it becomes a choice between the lesser of two evils.

      But what if the weather now pointed to a perfect storm instead of a tropical depression? Shall we perpetuate the status quo?

      Our country is used to getting hit by storms perennially and it lulled us into a false sense of calmness. It took the devastations of a Yolanda before we took cognizance of the treacherous danger of storm surge, but by then it was too late for a great number of people.

    • parengtony says:

      This insight is spot on, I think. If memory serves me right, I was of the same mindset when I learned about the abrupt dismissal by the Sandigan Bayan.

  11. rosario says:

    Hi Sir JoeAm, and Ma’m Yvonne,
    Thanks for the stubbornness in continuing the”pag-uusisa” re corruptions of the Binays.
    Sir Joe Am, this time i have the guts to comment in your blog because of your second principle. Been wanting to, but shyness usually overtakes me bcoz i have to translate my thinking into english and there are times, mahirap. Although i know that you probably understand tagalog and visayan too because of your wife, she’s filipina. Thanks.
    Ma’m Yvonne, is this the piece you sent to the sc you said in Ma’m Raissa’s raissarobles.com blog many previous topics ago?
    I will share this in my fb, may i? Thanks. I am.
    I hope that this have been read by the SC and recommence the said opening of the said graft case.
    And also by the three gutsy senators Trillianes, Cayetano, Pimentel, those three been leading the makati corruption in senate hearings.i also hope that before the three ends their makati hearings that every tom, dick and harry add mo pa curly, moe, n larry both in the senate and hor who were so eager to attend the mamasapano hearings will also add their voices in this makati hearings.
    thanks again Sir JoeAm and Ma’m Yvonne.

    • Yvonne says:

      Rosario, yes it is similar in substance but I have to write the letter in a brief and more formal style so some of the details were lacking in the letter.

      Yes, please share the post with link to JoeAm’s blog site in your FB page and ask your friends to share it with their other friends so that there will be a snow-balling effect.

      And thank you for your strong interest in the welfare of our country. Don’t worry about not being able to express yourself eloquently in English, it is only our second language after all and we are a diverse community whose different voices need to be heard.

      • sonny says:

        @ Rosario Please, by all means stay. We Filipinos are bilingual and bicultural mostly for good. The fact that Taglish is the current means is a good sign because we recognize that words and phrases in either language best fits the speed at which we comprehend and communicate our thoughts. This is strength not deficiency.

        @ Yvonne I, too have expressed to Joe my desire to do a guest piece. But continuous reading of the ideas expressed by commenters here render my own redundant many times. So many times, it’s back to the writing desk for me. I think Joe is growing cobwebs around his patience for me. 🙂

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          @sonny,

          I tried to write a debut article of my own,

          1. before i hit save, it is already discussed;
          2. I have anger management issues, I write when I am angry and it shows in my comments
          3. I AM JUST SO SCARED I GET DISSED OF MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS. When I begin going over my piece proofreading it, I CHANGED A LOT OF SENTENCES THAT TOTALLY LOST ITS MEANING.
          4. All my comments are spur of the moment, extemporaneous. I hit Submit without proofreading it. It is only comments anyway BUT WRITING A PIECE is something else. IT GOT BIGGER RESPONSIBILTY TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY BELIEVABLE all Ts have to be crossed and “i”s dotted.

          I am Mariano. I write Englsichtzes.

          • edgar lores says:

            *******
            Mariano,

            I would love to read a debut piece by you. I expect something the opposite of sober. I expect New Year fireworks that light up the sky in flashes of multicolored brilliance. I expect the tattoo of tom-toms and the clap of thunder. I expect Pablo, Ondoy and Yolanda.
            ******

          • Joe America says:

            Well, Mariano, the way you do it is use your last line as your first line in the blog, then let it rip.

            “I am Mariano. I write Englsichtzes. etc etc.”

            I’ll publish it as you say it, for I would not dare to touch the artwork.

    • Joe America says:

      Good of you to comment, rosario In these parts, language is called “style”. Whatever form it takes is perfect. Thank you as well for sharing Yvonne’s article on your facebook page. We encourage that kind of thing to multiply the reach of good articles.

  12. karl garcia says:

    Go Mariano! Debut article! Debut article! Rah rah!

    • chit navarro says:

      Please Mariano, if and when you do an article, make it in simple English, no satires. Please, pretty please! I dare read you here because as Joe said, you put respect in these pages. 🙂 🙂

  13. chit navarro says:

    from Bobby Brillante = he sent me a PM in FB after I posted the link in his FB page:
    “Thank you so much for your timely posting of this article. God bless.”

    • Joe America says:

      Good to know. Thanks.

    • Yvonne says:

      Thanks chit for spreading the word. We may be few in number but we certainly can make a big impact with our persistence. I’m also glad to know that Bobby, in his post below, acknowledges the blog topic in JoeAm’ blog site.

      In hindsight I think the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee made a big mistake in failing to invite Bobby to testify in the hearings. His narrative would have set up a strong plot for the captivating story about the Binays that unfolded in the senate.

  14. bobby brillante says:

    Thanks to Yvonne. This article inspires me to pursue with more vigor my crusade for transparency, public accountability and good governance. I pray that our legislators and Justices of the Supreme Court would make the necessary action before we lose our faith in the Sandiganbayan. And perhaps before we begin to think of shooting corrupt justices driven by public frustration.

    • Yvonne says:

      Bobby, in writing this blog post I’m inspired by some people I know who feel strongly that the Sandiganbayan failed in its mandate to serve justice to everyone, and is badly in need of reformation. I hope that the information about the leak and its cover-up, which came from a very reliable source, will be useful in your quest for vindication that has eluded you for so many years.

  15. Now I realize why, in the early stages of the Senate’s sub-committee hearings, the VP insisted that there’s no need for him to attend the said hearings and just elevate the case to the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan, supported by his daughter-senator’s remarks that her dad will not stoop down to their level. Shades of Janet Napoles’ boast that she has a good contact at the SB (which turned out to be Ong).

    Thank you Yvonne for this piece, I look forward to your next one, even to your comments at raissa’s blog..

    I seldom comment as I am humbled by the great ease and mastery of the English language not to mention the clarity of presentation of the other commenters here and on raissa’s blog . I got sidelined also by health issues but couldn’t resist responding to parekoy when he started to rant and rave at Pnoy and his perceived apologists like Joe… I just had to comment… that started it again for me. I see he also engaged you, could be due to this article…I admire the calm way you and Joe responded to his and his gang’s not so friendly rejoinders to your posts there.

    • chit navarro says:

      hello Mary Grace, great to read you also go to Raissa’s blog.

      And yes, I have just read the challenge to debate issued by Parekoy. I feel the same and it’s really ruining the blogsite of Raissa.

      • Joe America says:

        I read the challenge and will take a pass. I feel very awkward being baited into being the center of attention in an “off topic” dialogue that is more likely to be confrontational than constructive. People can read and decide whether or not I contribute anything, and if not, can choose not to read. Parekoy is a divider, choosing sides and sadly placing yvonne on “the wrong side” because she chose to publish an article here. I don’t get it myself, and won’t spend any time trying to figure it out. I appreciate the earnest dialogue that takes place here, and think Raissa also offers an important forum. I see no need to compete, or to compare the validity of ideas expressed by foreigners or Filipinos. We all come here through our own paths, those paths being much more relevant to the debate than a piece of paper that indicates where we were born.

        • manangbok says:

          “We are the real countries, not the boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. ” — Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)

          It doesn’t really matter what our nationalities are or what citizenships are recorded in our birth certificates.

          In the end what matters is what (or who) we care and stand up for; and what we can (and will) die for.

          I know those statements are quite cheesy and girlish and starry-eyed. But maybe sometimes, “cheesy” is just what we need? What is pizza without mozzarella? 🙂

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a luminous document that I always return to to acquaint and re-acquaint myself with the norms on human rights.

        Allow me to quote two sections, the first from the Preamble and the second from Article 19:

        “Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

        “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

        Let me just underline that last phrase “regardless of frontiers.”

        This means that we can criticize China, as we do.

        This means that we can criticize the US, as we do.

        This means that I can criticize the Vatican, as I do.

        This means that we can criticize any entity, any idea, any product, and any nation on earth.

        Thus any invitation to debate on the right to criticize with respect to frontiers is violative of the international norm.

        Let me go back to the Preamble and underline that phrase “to promote respect for these rights and freedoms.”

        Respect. To promote respect we must observe respect. And here, on this blogsite, we honor — or at least try to honor — that respect.

        Therefore, with all due respect, the invitation to debate is intellectually declasse.
        *****

      • Hi Chit… thank you…

        just can’t help but join in the fray, I go by the handle “Mary” over there. Yvonne, please stay at raissa’s blog, and here of course..your posts and that of Chit, moonie, Johnny, cha and baycas and others whose names escape me at the moment, make that site more alive and educational, please reconsider, our fight for good governance is far from over, don’t let him win as our country needs the likes of you.

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