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The elephant in the room


“Come on,” Percy complained in Rick Riordan’s book The Bloody Olympus, “I get a little nosebleed and I wake up the entire earth?”

Former senator Leila de Lima got more than a nosebleed in the Camp Crame hostage-taking that could have been fatal for her – a near-death experience, she complained. It was a sad and sobering description of her latest nightmare. It might as well be her view of her entire experience in custody – technically euphemism for jail – after nearly six years of incarceration even as witnesses against her alleged drug-related crime have retracted one by one. The judge handling her case must be waiting for Godot.

Of course, the whole earth must have been wakened up by the near-tragic experience she had in the hands of a terrorist while surrounded by policemen, one of whom shot point blank the terrorist who grabbed her in her cell and threatened to kill her at the point of sharpened fork. The United States senators who have been pleading for her liberty ever since she was locked up for trumped-charges by the previous administration must have been shocked; the rest of the world, too. Someone didn’t publicly hide his wish that she rots in jail. No word, good or bad, from him yet.

Whether it was out of politics or out of the goodness of his heart, President Bongbong Marcos has offered her some consolation. She was asked if she wanted to be transferred elsewhere safer. The guy can be nice, pala. Thanks, but no, she doesn’t. Camp Crame cops are good marksmen but lousy security. The Philippines’ top cop was honest enough to admit the lapses of his men.

De Lima is the elephant in the room. So is justice, or the lack of it, in the country. What happened was an accident waiting to happen, and it did not end with the evil-driven satisfaction of one man, thankfully. Will the cops go as far connecting the dots? Before the De Lima hostage taking, there was a hard-hitting, truth-broadcasting journalist ambushed with efficiency. Some guy out there probably suffered more than a nosebleed with his bullet-like tirades. Tit for tat. No perfect crime, though: a footage taken from camera installed in the victim’s car showed an identifiable culprit. Will/Can the cops connect the dots as well?

So much of what it is called justice in this ala-wild west of a land is the abject failure to connect the dots, either out of laziness or competence or something else.

President Marcos, the Junior, has spoken/promised many things for the country and its people his late father loved in his time. And for that, ironically, his father and his whole caboodle were, ungraciously and ungratefully booted a long time ago by the people out of power and out of the country. But they’re back, and with great enthusiasm, if not a real, raw sense of gotcha.

He better listen to former senator Frank Drilon stammers to high heavens the obvious. De Lima’s case has been dragging on for nearly as long as the term for president. The old one is gone and a new one, though not really, has replaced him. The principal witnesses against the former senator have walked back. Ergo, the evidence against her is weak. Ergo, she deserves the right to bail, a Constitutional right. Or she can be placed under house arrest, like two former presidents, both famous for their braces in their upper anatomy. Never mind the other famous faces who are free and kicking in the corridors of power, probably laughing all the way to the bank.

The bigger backdrop, for emphasis, is the back-and-forth issue of probing the previous administration for crime against humanity. The International Criminal Court has denied the Philippine request that it stops the probe because the Philippine government can do it, willing and able can’t you see? The ICC doubts it, based on the evidence at hand. It’s token gesture, not in the spirit of the Rome Statute that the Philippine government, at the behest of legal minds which included the unlamented Harry Roque, signed on and eventually withdrew from when the kitchen heat was too much to bear.

Two important points based on the Statute’s articles stick out like a sore thumb: 1) Article 17 says the ICC will come in when the State is unable to do the job it is supposed to do under the agreement. This is the ongoing point of contention. 2) Article 127 says even if the State withdraws from the Statute, the ICC can still run after the accused official who committed the crime before the withdrawal. It’s no legal conundrum. You bang before you bail out, paternity is yours.

PBBM can’t be in any decent sense pleased about what happened to De Lima and the murdered journalist. He’s probably pissed off, so to speak. The recent two events can only buttress the perception of the outside world, perhaps not including China which has recently reportedly blacklisted the PH for the continued operations of POGOs here while it is forbidden in the Mainland.

His recent “productive” goodwill trips to Singapore, Indonesia and the United Nations may have gone to naught. He should review his priorities, among them rising inflation, soaring fuel prices and drying local food sources.

Don’t forget the soul. Man doesn’t live by bread alone, said the Savior whom PBBM presumably believes. “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of the victims beneath the wheel of injustice,” according to the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.

PBBM swore to do just that when he became the 17th President of the Republic by virtue of 31 million votes. There’s another opinion, but that’s under the bridge.


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