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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 14, 2020
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Come To Think Of It
with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia

Second week of the second month


It has been a very busy week for issues affecting our country and if there’s one thing good about it, people who have a deadline have more to write about. So without further ado, here we go…

Another Quo Warranto

Our government’s favorite weapon for removing legitimate entities for whatever reason our officials have deemed necessary was deployed once again this week. The Solicitor General filed another quo warranto petition, this time against embattled media network ABS CBN, whose franchise renewal is currently in question because President Duterte has been making clear to his supermajority in Congress that it is something he would rather not see happen.

The last time a quo warranto was used was during an attempt to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from the Supreme Court. CJ Sereno was already facing impeachment, but probably because the numbers couldn’t be guaranteed, the quo warranto was thrown into the mix to ensure the successful removal of the head of a co-equal branch of government. The quo warranto against Sereno succeeded because the Solicitor General gave our highly ambitious associate justices the golden opportunity to remove a very young Chief Justice whose age effectively killed all their chances for that coveted post.

In a supreme display of conflict of interest, the SC justices didn’t bother waiting for the results of the impeachment process and voted on the quo warranto petition by a vote of 8-6, successfully kicking out the Chief Justice without the benefit of an impeachment trial.

Quo Warranto is back again in 2020, this time targeting ABS CBN, whose franchise expires in March. And just like with CJ Sereno, the President’s Solicitor General is deploying it in another two-pronged approach to ensure that the killing blow succeeds. They could’ve just waited for their subservient allies in Congress to deny the franchise renewal, but perhaps they don’t think they have the numbers again so the Quo Warranto option is once again on the table.

It’s not sure if the Supreme Court will also choose to decide on this petition but since there is no personal gain to be made for our supposedly independently-minded justices, they may not act on this as expeditiously and decisively as they did the last time they were given the choice of bending the law of the land for someone else’s merriment.

The ultimate fate of ABS CBN should give those of us who are observing closely the state of our democracy a better idea of where this country is going.

VFA Cancelled

The Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines was unilaterally cancelled by President Duterte as retaliation for the cancellation of the US Visa one of his favorite Senators, former PNP Chief and architect of the bloody drug war, Bato Dela Rosa. Because Senator Bato can no longer go to Disneyworld, our security forces will have to deal with foreign and domestic threats without the help of the United States. Foreign Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana apparently tried to advise our dear leader against this course of action but he gets what he wants so this is what we get. Anyway, worry not, because who needs the USA when we’re already protected by China’s warm embrace, right?

Drug Listed

In other shocking news, Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido, one of the President’s poster boys for his brutal and unrelenting drug war, has allegedly been spotted on the notorious drug list.

If verified, this spells bad news for the drug war. That would mean either the President’s favorite drug war cop is crooked or the billions we spend on drug war intelligence produces a drug list that is crooked.

If the former is true, a crooked cop of that stature would be a major blow for the President’s drug war. It’s been way beyond 3-6 months, more like 3-6 years already, and it would destroy the credibility of the drug war if there are still crooked cops in such a position.

If the latter is true, it confirms suspicions that the drug list is crap and that we wasted billions in taxpayer’s money on it. That’s a damn shame.

If you come to think of it, whether or not the drug list is indeed suspect, Mr. Espenido is fortunate because policemen accused of drug links are guaranteed due process and his alleged involvement will be properly investigated before he is given a fair trial in a court of law. He will be innocent until proven guilty, unlike other regular folk who do not enjoy his friends and connections, where getting your name in that mysterious drug list is as good as a death sentence.

So there we are. Press freedom is under attack, we have one less defense ally to count on, and the drug war hit another speed bump. That’s all in just one week, in the second month of 2020, and we aren’t even discussing COVID-19 yet.*  

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