Attack dogs for decency

Senator Trillanes announcing that he would file ethics and plunder cases against Senator Gordon. [Photo source: SunStar]

By Joe America

The Bible says to turn the other cheek when struck, the idea being to avoid becoming brutal, too. But there is also a lot of justified smiting going on in that great book.

I think the ‘yellows’ sometimes turn their cheeks too often. They are too nice, too dispassionate about the way things are going in the Philippines.

Definition: ‘Yellows’ are defenders of the Constitution and democracy.

Now, I am not calling for a revolution. I’ll leave those extreme solutions to President Duterte and the NPA. I’m talking about working within the system to better restrain or direct the State’s power, and drive for better treatment of Filipinos.

I see a lot of what I will call ‘ethical injustice’ going on these days. This is a soft form of corruption, actually, because the State is using its power to attack Filipinos rather than protect them. The Constitution, after all, is written for the people. It is there to define government’s role in protecting Filipino rights, freedoms, and security.

Here are some examples of ethical injustices:

  • Senator Sotto wants to file cybercrime charges against the technical person who builds blog operating platforms because the Senator was insulted by a blog’s content, something the defendant did not create. If you want to know what ‘chills’ freedom of speech, this is it. Senator Sotto chairs the Senate Ethics Committee. He should have an essential grasp of how he is abusing the power of the State by using his position to shut off criticism. Either he does not understand, and is incompetent, or he is intentionally abusing his power, and is unethical. Either way, something should be done about it.
  • Senator Gordon seems to have abused his power as Chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in facilitating the jailing of Senator De Lima and preventing Senator Trillanes from performing his role to question resource people in Committee hearing on drugs and smuggling. Senator Trillanes is using ethics and plunder charges to fight back against Senator Gordon. Good for him.
  • Senate President Pimentel is negligent for not bringing Senator Sotto and Senator Gordon into line. He, as do they, acts in allegiance to the President and not the Constitution or Senate as a separate branch of government . . . an institution with an ethical conscience.
  • House Speaker Alvarez has committed act after act in defiance of Constitutional mandate of separate and co-equal branches by making the House a persecution body for the President. The Gadon impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Sereno is a wild and woolly concoction of nonsense. That it is allowed to prosper is one example of ethical injustice. The slut shaming of Senator De Lima in hearings is another.
  • The PNP has stopped being transparent about the reporting of killings. At last count, there were some 13,000 deaths by force over the past year, 3,000 of which were at the hands of the police. The PNP had only 37 cases under investigation a few weeks ago. The State is so afraid of the statistics and truth of the slaughter that it wants to hide them in pursuit of its  . . .  its final solution to drugs . . . unhindered by watching eyes.
  • Officials of the Department of Transportation have filed a plunder case against about half of the Aquino cabinet on what seems to be speculation that there must have been plunder because the trains aren’t running well. “Guilty until proven innocent” seems to be a mainstream idea these days, and it is an offensive idea given the protections assured in the Constitution.
  • PCOO’s Asec Mocha Uson posted a picture of herself alongside former Senator Marcos under the bold headline that he is “the real Vice President”. What a gross violation of respect for the office of the elected Vice President, Leni Robredo. Asec Uson has repeatedly violated the dignity of her office by issuing fake news and performing in a casino; her supervisors have done nothing about it. It’s not right. Her loose and disrespectful behavior inspires the unrestrained and hostile work of an army of Marcos/Duterte trolls as they viciously attack decent Filipinos in social media.

Citizens ought not be the enemy of government, but a large sector is. Anyone with a different idea is cast as a ‘destabilizer” and attacks are unleashed by trolls, by government communications staff, by shills in the House and Senate, and by the Department of Justice and other agencies.

The Ombudsman is fully engaged in dealing with hard criminal acts. Theft, in the main. Ethical injustice is more difficult to argue. It is basically a dereliction of oath, or duty, or rules, or laws. The incidents, such as those I have recited, are mainly abuses of authority, or principle, rather than missing money.

So who represents the people, if the Executive and Legislative branches refuse to do so and way too many lawyers turn to the money and sell the profession’s ethical integrity down the river?

I think there are three possible steps, and they may be evolving and emerging now. I’ll call them:

  • Attack dogs for decency
  • Lawyers for a more ethical profession
  • Citizen defense groups

Attack dogs for decency

In this context, dogs are good, like watch dogs, and Senator Trillanes is one. He illustrates how citizens themselves can take the initiative when they have had enough of the disparagement and bad behavior. Attack dogs are people who are willing to file cases against abusers. Senator Trillanes has levied a P2 million libel charge against blogger Thinking Pinoy for falsely stating President Trump called Senator Trillanes a “Narco”. The Senator is also in attack mode against Senator Gordon on ethics and plunder charges. Senator Gordon has gone strangely quiet.

Vice President Robredo ought to be reaching her fill of abuse soon. It seems to me she should take immediate action when bloggers or government officials intentionally try to harm her. The idea that Asec Uson can separate her personal opinions from her official ethical bearing is nonsense. Her audience does not make that distinction. A case should have been filed immediately after the Marcos posting. I’m not going to research the laws as to what statute was violated, but FIND ONE. Either bring the Asec Uson into proper ethical order or get her out of government service.

Other individuals of knowledge and means ought not accept being battered by officials of government, and should start using the resources available to them to punish those who would unethically punish them.

Lawyers for a more ethical profession

Face it, the legal profession these days is a shambles with attorneys rewarded generously for filing specious lawsuits in pursuit of the Administration’s political agenda. The Department of Justice is ripe with ethical abuse where crooks are granted witness protection so they will testify against people who are nothing more than political targets. The lawyer’s code of ethics says this is not right. Either acting attorneys step up to object or the whole profession becomes little more than peddlers and puppets. That’s what ya’ll studied that hard for? To become a sock puppet for someone who is powerful only because he can dip into the taxpayer purse to hire gunslinger lawyers?

Please tell me there is more dignity to this profession than that.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines has occasionally spoken out about . . . but not against . . . some of the offensive or unethical pronouncements of the Administration . . . for example, the group said that the idea of a ‘revolutionary government’ has no legal foundation in the Constitution. But there is no broad and hard advocacy from the group for a more substantial professional and ethical bearing among government officials who are also attorneys.

I know this concerns a lot of practicing attorneys who feel their profession is besmirched by the deal peddlers. The next few years will determine if there really is a legal profession in the Philippines. Or just a bunch of hired guns of no ethical conscience whatsoever.

Citizen defense groups

The masses have no access to attorneys. That’s why they are being shot willy nilly whilst powerful people are granted consideration.

The US has its Civil Liberties Union, but the Philippines has failed to sustain a similar effort because the power brokers buy out lawyer allegiance.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay is on Senator De Lima’s team, and other prominent cases. How great if he or someone like him would organize a fleet of attorneys, and the funding for them, to serve as attack dogs for people harmed by the Duterte government. They could start by holding legislators and executive officials liable for failing to uphold their Constitutional mandates.

Conclusion

Pushback is not needed in the streets. It is needed in the headlines, and in the courts.

Hard, courageous pushback.

Lawful pushback.

A loud, insistent DEMAND for civil and ethical behavior in government.

Bow to a bully and he just reaches for another club.

 

Comments
38 Responses to “Attack dogs for decency”
  1. edgar lores says:

    *******
    The biggest ethical injustice is the Rule of Power, which does not recognize the Rule of Law.

    The second biggest is the Drug War.

    The third biggest is the open invitation to China to rape the country.

    And the fourth biggest is the incarceration of Senator De Lima.
    *****

    • Powerful. You should be active on Twitter with wisdoms such as that. Otherwise I am relegated to stealing them.

    • NHerrera says:

      On the Second Item:

      YESTERDAY’S BIBLE READING

      For I was hungry, and you gave me meat; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came unto me.

      Instead

      You killed me when I have done no wrong and I begged only to go home because I have school homework to do.

      Surely this cries out for decency if not justice.

  2. I hope creating a Philippine version of the ACLU becomes the passion of Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.

    Too many Harry Roques in the Philippines too few Florin Hilbays

  3. Dale says:

    Yes, why does VP leni not defend her office against that Asec Mocha’s unethical posts? Sometimes we also have to fight back . Look at Kris, she nailed that Asec mocha’s grammatically wrong fake news straight on the head. They have to be slapped some lessons.

  4. Joe Dowling says:

    Decency is dying here in the Philippine Government.
    I think Miss Uson may be correct in her statement attached to the picture . Vice, in one of its meaning would apply to lack of decency . Vice President Robredo is in fact honoured by that statement when “Vice ” is voiced by Miss Uson in that context regarding Mr Marcos..

  5. josephivo says:

    “The Bell Curve” of 1984 was prophetic. Although a taboo subject, society gets more and more split up between those who have a strong brain and the rest. Physical strength, working hard, dexterity… all get less important, statistically much more money is made by the better brains. Working hard in a sari-sari earns you a few thousand Peso except for a few lucky exceptions who make a few ten thousand peso, compare with the few hundred thousand made by professionals, the few million by creative new businesses. (Stealing or corruption are different issues)

    People feel this, their chances of a good live as shown in telenovelas and as seen behind the high wall of wealthy subdivisions are fleeing. The “haves” are seen as elites and decency as an expression of the elitism. Decency as the new Bastille, “we have to liberate those with lesser IQ’s”. Shrewd politicians feel this too and know to exploit it, votes of the majority get you elected, not decency. Stressing its need will have the opposite effect.

    (the Bell Curve reasons in statistical terms, so plenty of exceptions to the general rule are to be expected. And in many spheres of life we deal with individuals where “average brain sizes” of the group are irrelevant.)

    What would be a just distribution of wealth? And how to achieve it?

    • I think one first has to end favoritism, corruption, an impunity so that these abberations don’t break down the rule of law. Then a proper system of wealth allocation can be set up, based on accountability and achievement, not just giveaways. Like, two years of community service to get people out of the ghettoes and on a path to self-determination.

  6. A revgov might try to do away with due process altogether, define ‘popular common sense’ as a new legal standard which will be what Mocha and her kind say it is. While filing cases, it is important to make sure the street gets what they are about.

    The lawyers group against EJKs (La Vina etc.) founded recently is important for that. Show people it isn’t just about the ‘rights of Roxas’, but everybody. Show them they also win if decency wins.

  7. Sup says:

    Most of the members of this Sereno committee have cases..

    Examples….

    http://iorbitnews.com/pampanga-congressman-ex-mayor-face-plunder-charges/

    https://www.rappler.com/nation/128351-ombudsman-graft-charges-gwen-garcia-cebu-execs

    Something about throwing stones?

    ”Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.”

  8. chemrock says:

    The silent majority has strength in numbers. It’s understandable that almost all of this class want to get on with their lives. They know their vulnerabilties, and the hopelessness of their lone voices or actions. They have however, one great power in their numbers, which they can exercise without fear of reprisals of any kind. It’s the silent protests. Remember Mahatma Ghandi’s silent protests. Remember it was silent protests that kicked start the Civil Rights Movement in US.

    Silent protests can take in many forms. One great protest underway is the boycott of Tapa King. The silent majority should go on big massive boycotts. Boycott Tapa king and other business that support the evil doers in the country. Boycott Robin Padilla. Boycott Chinese products. Boycott businesses that advertise in the pro-admin media. Write to those that control internet media to stop adverts in socmeds of the evil doers. Hurt their wallets, that’s the only way. In your little barangay markets, stop buying from that nasty vegetable seller who foul mouth the yellows. Ask your like-minded friends to do the same.

  9. Andrea says:

    I think its time to apply the strength of the majority. Like me if somebody I know is a diehard follower of this administration I gradually avoid, refrain from patronizing whatever will be benefit them.At the moment this is all what decent people can do unless somebody comes out to lead us in fighting back.

  10. Mackie Cui says:

    You said “I think the ‘yellows’ sometimes turn their cheeks too often. They are too nice, too dispassionate about the way things are going in the Philippines.”

    You’re very right. Now, Duterte and his minions are after them (Aquino and his some of his cabinet members). For being so nice and quite. They should have known better.

  11. NHerrera says:

    THESE WORDS SOUND CONTEMPORANEOUS

    “A regime of continuous terrorism and anguish stirs up the minds of men, a regime worse than an era of disturbances, for the fears that the imagination creates are generally greater than the real ones. The country is poor; it is going through a great financial crisis, and everybody points with their fingers to the persons who are causing the evil, and yet no one dares to lay their hands on them!”

    “… of what use are all the codes in the world if because of confidential reports, trivial motives, anonymous traitors, any respectable citizen is banished, is exiled, without any trial? Of what use is that Penal Code, of what use is life, if there are no security of the home, faith in justice, and confidence in the tranquility of conscience? Of what use are all that scaffolding of names and all that pile of articles, if the cowardly accusation of a traitor can influence the timorous ears of the supreme autocrat more than all the cries of justice?”

    “The villainy of some lies in the cowardice and carelessness of others” … “One is oppressed because of the lack of love for one’s self and because of excess regard for the oppressor.”

    IN FACT IT WAS WRITTEN BY JOSE RIZAL

    The above taken from an opinion piece by Inquirer’s John Nery.

    http://opinion.inquirer.net/109057/not-rule-law-caprice-power

  12. Carmen says:

    I miss P. Noynoy and his decency especially now where decency is missing, fake news is abundant, tolerated and supported by Duderte and his minions and paid by us. I did not vote for P. Not when he ran for president as I felt he is no Ninoy nor Cory and I never heard anything he did when he was a senator or congressman. But I felt safe and at peace under his term. He carried the discipline and principle of Cory.
    Now, I do not know where we are going. Duterte’ s word is no word one can hold on. I think if I had a contract with Duterte, that contract will be invalidated by him when it does not suit his purpose just as his non-recognition of the Constitution, the highest and basis of all other laws.
    Thank you TSOH for bringing up relevant issues and challenging discussions.

  13. NHerrera says:

    Critical thinking, Troller style. Very useful to Advisers and some Cabinet members especially of the judiciary kind; to House and Senate members, too.

    Hi Google: read this; check and prepare reply from the extensive DDS lists of canned responses and comments; combine as needed; do some changes; then submit without bothering me.

    (To the army of currently employed trollers: beware, Google will fast declare you superfluous.)

  14. Joe,

    did you know Helen Keller was instrumental in forming the ACLU?

    she’s very prominent in elementary (for kids here), I remember reading and listening about her around 4th grade… how she was blind and deaf and how she and some teacher of hers were able to rise above.

    but we never knew what happened to her after her school years.

    well it turned out she became a Communist and a pretty vocal one at that too. all started out with her working in some house for the blind and deaf , when she realized most if not all those she was helping actually became blind or deaf due to some work place accident,

    some of the blind women she was helping went blind due to syphilis , who were either raped or forced to sexual intercourse from the work place (ex. foreman, managers, to fat cats of industries).

    seeing this power imbalance, she turned to Communism. then she met the guys who stood up the ACLU and lent her full support, i guess she was quite the celebrity then.

    so the ACLU’s defense of the handicapped originated from Helen Keller, though originally it was set-up to protect folks speaking out against the U.S. going to war in Europe (WWI) , then eventually it partnered with the NAACP and fought for that too.

    I guess my point is that, the issues come first in setting-up any ACLU-like organization , then rally people around it, not necessarily lawyers (for lawyers’ sake), Helen Keller was not one, so just people in general pissed off at the status quo,

    Well I just watched an episode last nite of “Years of Living Dangerously”, titled “Collapse of the Oceans” that featured the Philippines, wherein it featured over-fishing, lack (or depleting) of fish now in the Philippines, plus coral reef die-off due to global warming, equals no more sea-foods which poor Filipinos rely on, forcasting 60-70% of Filipinos losing out on their only protein source (though I’m dubious with that number,

    having personally seen Filipinos poor and rich , consume swine),

    but this oceans collapse as experienced in the Philippines now & in the coming years seems pretty scary, and an issue worthy of rallying around independent of political views (i’m sure BPO’s like their fish and seafood too, so they’ll clamor for this issue, if not the EJKs),

    here’s the episode:

  15. Sabtang Basco says:

    What Philippine Media is lacking is tapping legal opinions from legal “luminaries” like they do in the U.S. like this one https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/11/24/why-trump-should-be-nervous-but-not-panicking-after-michael-flynns-lawyers-cut-off-communication/?utm_term=.1df360287528 for example.

    • Sabtang Basco says:

      Above is posted in the wrong thread instead of Mr. Wilfredo Villanueva’s. Anyways, Jover Laurio is a “lawyer” but not making legal opinions rather manufacturing innuendos. I have to Google her name who and what she is about. She is a lawyer and her blog doesn’t seem to sound lawyerly unlike Washingtonpost.

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