Category: transparency

andy bautista wins? who loses?

interesting that it is pro-duterte peeps who are protesting, questioning, criticizing the dismissal of the impeachment complaint vs comelec chief andy bautista, yet it is also the pro-duterte majority in the house of reps justice committee that dismissed the complaint on mere technicalities re sufficiency in “form” because, you know, they have to be strict and follow the rules daw; and yet they refused to entertain a correction of the form (which is NOT disallowed) and at once dismissed the complaint even when the rules entertain a dismissal only upon a finding of insufficiency in “substance.”  check out rules of procedure in impeachment complaints, rule iii, section 4, 17th congress.

the big surprise, however, is representative edcel lagman, who is known to be an oppositionist — he is against the drug war, voted against the death penalty, martial law in mindanao, and the CHR budget cut — but who belongs to the super majority pala. he voted, too, to dismiss the case.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of those who supported the dismissal of the case against Bautista, said there is no rule allowing a complainant to amend his verification and his complaint.

He said the attempt of Paras and Topacio to present an amended verification “clearly shows that the original was defective.”

to think that rep. edcel is a member (for the majority) of the committee on suffrage and electoral reform.  is this a portent of things to come?  we will never know if our votes are being counted correctly?  we will always be under the thumb of the likes of bautista (and smartmatic and their cohorts in congress) whose integrity and love of country are under such heavy clouds of doubt?

the andy bautista issue is a unique one that divides the body politic along different lines from the drug war.

the dilawans, of course, are happy about the junked impeachment complaint.  it means that leni is safe.  imagine nga naman:  if, when, andy is impeached, who knows what evil magic a duterte-appointed comelec chief might wreak in aid of bongbong’s claim to the vp seat.  kahit pa sabihing nasa supreme court na ang kaso, we all know how the system works for ones who are powerful enough.

the duterte diehard supporters in congress, of course, are also happy about the junked impeachment complaint.  it means that andy owes them big, and it means that the very crucial plebiscite on charter change for term extensions and economic liberalization, not to speak of federalism, would happen under andy’s watch, with smartmatic pa rin kaya?

which is to say that the duterte camp is clearly divided.  baka wala pang memo from the palace?  or is this one issue on which they will remain divided.  right now it’s social media ka-DDS vs. the house of reps ka-DDS.  the lines are drawn, the battle is joined.

but wait, there’s hope.  rep harry roque says that the House plenary can still override the justice committee’s decision.  hmm.  kailan iyan?  automatic ba iyan, magaganap within a certain number of days?  or will it be the call of majority leader dear rudy fariñas who is said to be, like the dilawans, afraid that impeaching andy means that leni will likely be replaced by bongbong.  he is also said to be of the belief that if not impeached, andy will resign of his own accord.  magugulat naman ako masyado.

a plenary would be good.  and when the reps vote, dapat ay nominal voting, one by one, let the records show who is for what!  itigil na iyang hiding behind viva voce!

and just in case fariñas won’t do a plenary…  if he does, then just in case the plenary lets andy off the hook…  ngayon pa lang, i’m thinking civil disobedience.  why should we vote when we don’t trust the people behind the machines that will be counting our votes?  what if they held elections and nobody came?

national artist award: transparency vs. confidentiality

on facebook yesterday, dr. isagani cruz posted this status and link re nick tiongson‘s objection to dolphy’s portrayal of gay roles:

I was there, but could not reveal this due to confidentiality. Ex-CCP top official opposed Dolphy’s National Artist Award, says Guidote-Alvarez 

which generated this exchange between danny arao and joel david in the comment thread.

Danilo Arao Thanks for sharing, sir. I was surprised [by] this “disclosure.” It sets a bad precedent. Future deliberations could be compromised as supposedly confidential matters could be disclosed in the future.

Joel David Actually transparency should be part of the process. It’s a recognition with the designation “national.” All this secrecy can be regarded as a large part of the reason for the dagdag-bawas scandal that resulted in Carlo Caparas’s “selection.”

Danilo Arao Hi, Joel. Yes, transparency is absolutely necessary and I think even minutes of the meeting could be made public. But specific comments, especially those deemed inconsequential, should be made confidential or off-the-record. In our own college, we don’t publicly disclose those nominated for Gawad Plaridel. We only announce the winners so that we don’t unnecessarily embarrass those who did not get it (and I think they’re equally deserving if evaluated by a different set of judges)…

Joel David I really must differ. The Gawad Plaridel is an award given by an institution that doesn’t claim to be public, although it is. So its process should be open to members of the public if any member is interested. Both institutions (UP and NCCA) use public funds. GP doesn’t need to “publicize” its process because the public isn’t interested. But at this point, there is interest in the National Artist awards.

Danilo Arao Yes, I see where you’re coming from and that’s also a valid point. But I think our difference of opinion has to do with transparency. It may be absolutely necessary but it’s not necessarily absolute, if you get my drift. At any rate, this deserves further discussion and it may be imperative for NCCA to review its rules and selection processes.

Joel David Here’s my point. If I were in an NA decision-making process, I would also object to the idea of Dolphy being declared a winner. That’s my personal, subjective position. But I would not want to hide in any confidentiality arrangement. It’s not a national security issue. If I wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by taking that position, I’d just recuse myself from participating. Simple as pie.

Danilo Arao  Quick rejoinder: The issue here is not Dolphy but Guidote-Alvarez breaching the confidentiality agreement. Is it ethical and professional for her to do so? Did she break the trust given to her by her peers who participated in the selection process? (In the context of the controversy surrounding the selection of NAs in 2009, we should also consider the fact that her controversial selection as NA is pending in the Supreme Court, alongside that of Carlo J. Caparas.

Joel David  It’s disturbing to even think that just because Cecile may have been a dagdag-bawas beneficiary, her credibility has been compromised. That’s not how a democracy works. If one day GMA claims to have evidence of wrongdoing by Pnoy, it’s in everyone’s interest to check her claim before judging her motives. As to a prior agreement by the NA committee to observe confidentiality – that’s an arrangement that could have worked given a few assumptions: that collegiality existed among the members, and that they’d be careful enough with the process so that no controversy will arise. In short, it’s purely for their benefit, not the interested public’s. Once that implicit agreement is ruptured, then all bets are off.

i agree with joel david re transparency but not regarding his objection to dolphy being declared a national artist.  like direk peque gallaga, whose thoughts i’ll be sharing in my next post, i think dolphy deserves it, and deserved it 10 years ago. 

i get where danny arao is coming from.  until the rule on confidentiality is dropped, there can be no condoning guidote-alvarez’s disclosure.  however, her controversial selection as NA in 2009 does not render what she disclosed in-credible.  and now that it’s out in the open, there is no ignoring or pooh-poohing the information.  tiongson’s “comment” cannot be rated “inconsequential,” considering that it cost dolphy the national artist award.

if the selection process had been transparent, and the minutes of meetings made public, nothing off-the-record, would tiongson have dared, or gotten away with it?  would someone not have dared in turn, nay, been obliged, to take up the cudgels for dolphy?  tiongson’s position is defensible but only on the level of gay portrayals.  no matter how “violent” or impassioned tiongson’s disapproval, surely there were even more powerful arguments in favor of dolphy.  it’s not as if kabaklaan were all that dolphy’s body of work is about.

confidentiality is elitist, and it sucks.  public deliberations would be highly educational and raise discourse and consciousness on what it takes to be a national artist.

also, what does it take ba to be a panelist in such deliberations.  kailangan ba talaga ng sangkatutak na academic credentials?  baka dapat meron ding psychological screening to determine kung may hang-ups about this or that.  time for the ncca and ccp to level up.

Total transparency

By Amando Doronila

Within hours of the removal of Renato Corona as chief justice after the Senate impeachment court found him guilty of betrayal of public trust for failing to disclose all his bank deposits, the Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday all justices and judges to make public their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) for 2011 in an apparent effort to repair the damage wrought on the reputation of the judiciary by Corona’s 6-month trial.

The order was issued after a special full-court session called by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who stepped into Corona’s shoes as acting chief justice according to the hierarchy of seniority in the succession ladder. The fact that Carpio swiftly called the meeting signaled that even under an interim leadership, the high court was not crippled by the removal of Corona.

President Aquino, who initiated the campaign to remove Corona, and backed it with the enormous police powers and political patronage resources of the presidency, said on Wednesday that he would not rush the appointment of the next chief justice to avoid the mistake stemming from Corona’s “midnight appointment” by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The question of who will be the next permanent chief justice immediately arose from legal and political circles, which expressed concern that the appointment of a chief justice pliable to the administration’s political objectives, especially on the issue of the President’s anticorruption drive, could fortify fears that such an appointment would further weaken and undermine the independence of the judiciary relative to the executive and legislative branches of the government.

Even at this uncertain period over the uneasy relations between the executive branch and the high court, Carpio seized the initiative to clean up the judiciary with the order to open its members’ SALNs to public scrutiny in the interest of transparency. He did not leave the initiative of a cleanup of the judiciary to a political witch-hunt in the guise of weeding out corrupt judges and those inconveniently standing in the way of implementing the administration’s gospel called “Daang Matuwid.”

The Supreme Court’s decision to open up the SALNs of all justices and judges came as a response to the public clamor for the disclosure of assets of all officials in the judicial, executive and legislative branches, following the failure of Corona to disclose $2.4 million and more than P80 million in bank deposits. Corona admitted these deposits after he submitted to the impeachment court a waiver of their confidentiality protected by the Foreign Currency Deposits Act (FCDA).

The high court said it was its “collective decision to release the SALNs in full, not [just] summaries.” The guidelines for the public release of the SALNs will be taken up in its en banc session on June 13.

The decision to disclose the SALNs is one of the positive outcomes of the testimony of Corona in the Senate impeachment tribunal last Tuesday, although his testimony was limited to only certain portions of his deposits. This led to his conviction that he was not telling the whole truth.

In his explanation of his vote to convict Corona, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding officer of the impeachment tribunal, said: “The nondisclosure of these deposits, in both local and foreign currencies, would naturally result in a corresponding distortion of the Chief Justice’s real net worth.”

Enrile maintained that “the constitutional principle of public accountability overrides the confidentiality of foreign currency deposits.”

He added: “The provisions of RA 6426 (FCDA) cannot be interpreted as an exception to the unequivocal command and tenor of Article XI, Sec. 17, of the 1987 Constitution, that the highest magistrate of the land, no less, would think otherwise….

“The so-called conflict between RA 6713 and RA 6426 is more illusory than real. Section 8 of RA 6426 merely prohibits the examination, or looking into, of a foreign currency deposit account by an entity or person other than the depositor himself. But there is nothing in RA 6426 which prohibits the depositor from making a declaration on his own of such foreign currency funds, especially in his case where the Constitution mandates the depositor who is a public officer to declare all assets under oath.”

Enrile said some had wondered why the Chief Justice should be held accountable for an offense of which many, if not most others, in the government are guilty, perhaps even more than he is.

The Senate President added: “Here lies what many have posited as a moral dilemma. I believe that it is our duty to resolve this dilemma in favor of upholding the law and sound public policy. If we were to agree with the respondent that he was correct in not disclosing the value of his foreign currency deposits because they are absolutely confidential, can we ever expect any SALN to be filed by public officials from hereon to be more accurate and true than they are today?

“I am not oblivious to the possible repercussions of the final verdict we are called upon to render today. I am deeply concerned that the people may just so easily ignore, forget, if not completely miss out on, the hard lesson we all must learn from this episode, instead of grow and mature as citizens of a democratic nation.”

In fact it cannot be ignored that there is now a clamor for public servants to disclose their SALNs—not only the justices and judges but also the President down to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The doctrine of Enrile in explaining his vote of “guilty” applies to all. Otherwise, we all face a grand hypocrisy by the self-righteous.