Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 23 January 2016


I cannot resist putting in my two cents’ worth of comment, or rather questions, on the news reports on what has been going in Metro Manila this week. So here goes.

The Menorca arrest. 1. Two arrest warrants were served on expelled Iglesia ni Cristo worker Lowell Menorca II, both for libel. They were signed by two regional trial court judges all the way from Mindanao—the first by Alberto Quinto of the RTC in Kapatagan (second-class municipality, 2010 population: 53,916), Lanao del Norte, and the second by Wenida Papandayan of Marawi City (“The only Islamic city in the Philippines”), Lanao del Sur. Why anyone in those areas should be exercised about alleged libelous statements made by Menorca, I fail to understand, except if it is to remove the INC center from all blame. Obviously, someone was. And the judges ordering the arrest of Menorca—didn’t they have anything better to do? Maybe the Supreme Court administrator should take notice.

2. Then there’s the Manila Police Department sending out a “tracker team” (whatever that is)—the members of which weren’t in uniform, but in shorts and slippers, for heaven’s sake—to arrest Menorca. They found him on his way to the Court of Appeals. According to the MPD spokesperson, a decision was made “on the ground,” meaning at the point where they saw Menorca, to give priority to the arrest order rather than to the CA subpoena that Menorca was answering. That doesn’t compute. The decision to arrest couldn’t have been made on the ground, because Menorca was already on his way to the CA. Isn’t it more logical to conclude that the team was bent on preventing Menorca from reaching the court? Ergo, the decision must have been made beforehand.

4. Still talking about the MPD: Its story is that Mrs. Menorca (Seiko “Jinky” Otsuka) grabbed the badge and the arrest warrant from the serving officer, hid these in her car, and then came out to do battle. That shows tremendous presence of mind and calm ability to think on her feet. I saw the video (thank the Lord for cell phones), and noted that Mrs. Menorca is a slender, tiny woman compared to the arresting officer. How could she have gotten his badge and the arrest order, and so quickly? Why didn’t the others show their badges? The video showed her in hysterics (not calm), asking them again and again to show their badges, but no answer. And why, if they knew that the arrest warrant was in her car, were they unable to retrieve it?

Leila de Lima showed the strength of her character when she gave her statement regarding the Menorca arrest. Where other politicians have stayed absolutely quiet, no doubt because they are courting the INC vote, Leila unhesitatingly spoke her mind in complete disregard of what it might imply for her personal benefit. That’s what we need in the Senate. You have my vote, Leila.

The SSS pension increase. Another senatorial candidate who has my vote is Serge Osmeña. He alone, among the senators who voted for the pension increase bill (Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile rejected it outright, the only one), has admitted fault and has said unambiguously that President Aquino was in the right for vetoing the bill. The excuse Serge gave was that he had 54 bills that had to get out within two weeks, and this one was not one of them. As excuses go, that’s pretty good. He at first tried to pin the responsibility on the President (i.e., that Mr. Aquino could have unilaterally raised the contribution rate of Social Security System members), but then backed off because the Senate as well could have done that. The important thing is that he would rather be unpopular than be fiscally irresponsible, and will not do anything that could backlash against the nation. Good for him.

To be fair, the House of Representatives, when it passed the bill, also passed a companion bill that gives the SSS board the authority to decide on contribution rates (now only the President or Congress can do so). The Senate did not pass the companion bill, which would have made everything all right. Question: Serge seems to be the only responsible (aside from Enrile) member of the Senate. But don’t most of our presidential and vice-presidential candidates come from the Senate? What does that make of them?

And if they really care for the SSS pensioners, all they have to do is pass the companion bill or raise the contribution rates of SSS members. In other words, be responsible.

The Sangguniang Kabataan reform bill. Recently signed by the President, Republic Act No. 10742 is touted as the first time that an antidynasty measure has been passed and approved. And I congratulate Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, the bill’s author, for it. It certainly is a start, given that we have been waiting almost 30 years for it. It will bring fresh blood into our youth (unconstrained by “name recall”) who are starting at the lowest levels of elective officials. And in time, who knows?

But before Congress starts congratulating itself for passing the first antidynasty bill, let me point out that it actually hasn’t hurt itself. The political dynasties that the bill prevents are not the dynasties that now reign over our Congress and Senate all the way down to mayors. I don’t think these dynasties consider the Sangguniang Kabataan the start-off point for their children. Too low.