The Supreme Court should be ready by now to resolve Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s protest asking it to overturn in his favor Leni Robredo’s election in May 2016 as Vice President. After all, the court has been at it longer than half the six-year term of the contested office. Moreover, Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa has already submitted the report that is supposed to form the basis of the verdict.
By “resolve” I mean decide between Marcos and Robredo, not to what next stage of deliberation to take the protest.
At any rate, if the verdict goes Robredo’s way or the case is dragged out further, basically nothing changes: she remains as Vice President and gets to continue as a saving grace of Philippine public service. She also remains first in the line of succession to the presidency, and there lies the great, desperate hope of every Filipino citizen clear-eyed and fair-minded or otherwise normal enough to recognize the incapacity, the immorality, the insanity, of the Duterte regime and the nightmare it has visited upon us.
More of that will likely be the foregone consequence of a verdict favoring Marcos. His family and Duterte subscribe to the same draconian style of leadership and are invested heavily in each other. Duterte openly wishes Marcos were his successor and professes idolatry for Marcos’s father, the late dictator. He admits owing his election to the Marcoses substantially, even publicly acknowledging Marcos’ eldest sister, Imee, as the representative family contributor to his campaign. In the midterms, just last May, she ran on the ticket Duterte had sanctified and now sits in the Senate holding one of the majority votes for him.
If the Supreme Court decides for Marcos, Duterte gets his chance at relief. Advancing suddenly from provincial-city mayor to President, he has been complaining lately of being sick and tired, and he certainly looks it in every sense. But no way is he abdicating for Robredo – she simply cannot be imagined being anything other than a cleanup president.
Indeed, cleaning up after Duterte is the massive emergency awaiting his successor. The crimes of his regime – its drug-war kills, its institutional corruption, its treasonous dealings with China – are the sort that leaves an extensive and still compounding mess. All the same, Marcos, if the job fell to him, would be expected to default and find ways to protect Duterte. But then he would only be useful in that way for the remainder of his term. To be useful longer, he’d have to get elected President himself, a prospect that might improve with the advantage of incumbency.
In any case, the Supreme Court has to decide now. Any more delays will only fuel already existing suspicions of something taking too long to cook, especially with Caguioa’s report in the justices’ hands for more than a month now.
The report constitutes a draft decision, but Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin says the court is not bound by it, which is why a vote has yet to be taken. Is he implying that there’s reason to think that Caguioa has done more in his report than stick to the numbers? But how can an open and simple process of recounting be complicated or manipulated with any credibility?
To be sure, too many incredible things have happened in the Supreme Court, precisely in cases where Duterte had an interest. To be fair, Caguioa had nothing to do with any of them, but Bersamin did have, with his consistently affirming vote.
Without any concrete evidence and on the mere word of life-term convicts obviously herded for the show, the Supreme Court upheld the detention without bail of Senator Leila de Lima, whom they accused of drug trafficking (now reduced to conspiracy). De Lima had begun hounding Duterte for death-squad murders when she was chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and he was mayor of Davao City.
Also, the Supreme Court usurped the senatorial power to try an impeached official, its own chief justice in this case, Maria Lourdes Sereno. It effectively deposed her by coup. A confluence of self-interest made it easy. By bypassing the majority of the justices, Sereno had incurred their profound resentment; for his part, the despotic and narcissistic Duterte could not stand her independent-mindedness; and the Senate – well, it just seems to like hanging on Duterte’s coattails and being dragged along.
The Supreme Court did not act exclusively as hatchet man; it also went along with Duterte as rehabilitator. And, in that role, there’s no precedent more pertinent and premonitory than its decision to allow a hero’s burial for Ferdinand Marcos Sr. – Rappler.com