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Sigma Rhoans in impeachment trial

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things…” (Philippians 4:8, the Holy Bible).

SIGMA RHOANS IN THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Did you notice how Sigma Rhoans---or members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity of the UP College of Law---shone during Day 6 of the impeachment trial? The presiding officer of the impeachment court, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, is a Sigma Rhoan. And so are lead defense counsel, Justice Serafin Cuevas, and private prosecutor, lawyer Arthur V. Lim. Indeed, the Sigma Rho is a fraternity of destiny.

SERENO’S BID AS FIRST WOMAN CHIEF JUSTICE DERAILED? Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno must clarify, real fast, the truthfulness of allegations that she failed to report in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) an alleged P25 million attorney’s fees she reportedly received as a government consultant in connection with the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 arbitration case.

If she did not receive the fees, she should state it right away, to clear her name. If she received the money but did not report it in her SALN, she must come up with a credible explanation, one that would nip in the bud talks among opposition congressmen at the House of Representatives, led by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez and Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, about her own possible impeachment.

This development is unfortunate, because it is seriously derailing Sereno’s chances of becoming the first woman chief justice of the Supreme Court, earlier made a possibility by announcements that President Aquino wants a chief justice in her mold. With a controversy such as this hounding Sereno, it would be understandable if the President will have second thoughts about appointing her as chief magistrate.

OPTIONS FOR IBP PRESIDENT LIBARIOS: Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Roan Libarios is in a fix right now, with disclosures from a supposed witness that he received in 2001 P500,000 from Mike Arroyo. Some are already saying this is the reason why he is fully supporting Chief Justice Renato Corona in the impeachment trial at the Senate.

The argument is that, Corona is a close associate of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and is perceived to be Gloria’s and the Arroyos’ “protector” in the criminal cases that are being filed against them. Libarios is a beneficiary of Mike Arroyo’s generosity and so, the pundits are saying, Libarios is defending Corona as a matter of “utang na loob” (loosely, debt of gratitude).

Whether this is true or not, it is clear that the revelations against Libarios have clearly undermined his, and the IBP’s, position on the Corona impeachment trial. The only decent way for Libarios now is to either stop talking about the impeachment, or quit as IBP president, to save the IBP from being dragged further down in this controversy. We can be sure that the witness who surfaced will have more against him.

PROBE SALN OF ALL GOV’T OFFICIALS: Indeed, there is now an urgent need for the SALN of all government officials, including congressmen, senators and other justices of the Supreme Court, to be made public, and be subject to scrutiny. This is now an opportune time to require transparency among those working in government, and see whether they have been truthful in declaring their wealth.

In fact, I will go so far to propose that all government officials who are still living, but who have retired or have been separated from government service for the last 15 years or so, be investigated likewise over their SALNs, to see whether they also acquired ill-gotten wealth. If so, then they should be made to similarly account for graft and corruption or plunder. President Aquino will be my hero if he does this!

By Atty. Batas Mauricio




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