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In his Jan. 15, 2017 column (“Will SC oust Leni and other LPs,” Opinion), former chief justice Artemio Panganiban wrote: “My column ‘Will Bongbong replace Leni?’ (12/18/16) concluded that, in the normal course… the election protest filed by Bongbong Marcos against Leni Robredo… will take a few more years before we see any light.” He seemed to tell us not to worry, Bongbong’s ascendancy to an office just a heartbeat away from the presidency can wait. He assumed, of course, that events would take their “normal course.”
Panganiban opined that what the Supreme Court may resolve earlier is the alleged violation committed by the Liberal Party of the law on “statement of contributions and expenses,” which could result in the disqualification of the winning candidates it nominated for election last year. However, any decision in that case would not result in Bongbong being proclaimed (as second placer) in lieu of Robredo. Her replacement can only come from Congress, of which Bongbong is no longer a member. Hence, no alarm bells there.
With due respect, we think that given the prevailing political conditions we are in presently, anything can happen. When the entire nation put its guard down, President Duterte ordered a “hero’s burial” for the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, in blatant defiance of history which has long laid the issue to rest: Marcos was a scoundrel; he has no place in a “cemetery for heroes”! And just as the nation thought the Court would have the greater wisdom to knock some sense into DU30’s head, it decided to yield to executive privilege despite the manifest mockery staring it in the face.
And now this scary scenario: By 2019 alone, DU30 will have enjoyed the prerogative of appointing 10 justices to the Supreme Court (in lieu of those retiring) who, as members of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will have the opportunity to render judgment on Bongbong’s protest against Robredo. That, by itself, will already be a supermajority in DU30’s pocket. As in the case of his Cabinet, there is no question that Mr. Duterte will pack that Court with schoolmates and friends eager and willing to do his capricious bidding.
This is by no means discounting the possibility that the current majority in the Supreme Court, which had no problem treating the late dictator a virtual “hero,” may simply brazen it out and go all the way—fast-track Bongbong’s protest against Robredo and deliver the vice presidency to him on a silver platter sooner. Having become so impervious to public outrage, could they really care less if the whole country went to the dogs?
So, again, what are the chances of Bongbong becoming the next vice president, as Duterte already announced for all and sundry to hear during his visit to China last year—with Bongbong in tow and grinning from ear to ear? Any which way one may look at it, it’s a foregone conclusion. And to prepare the country for Bongbong’s succession to the presidency, Duterte has already made it known that he is too sick to finish his term and may hand the reins of power over to the vice president.
Even in a mid-term or last-minute succession, Bongbong will be a sitting president boning up for a presidential election in 2022 and in command of all the resources of government. No rocket science is needed to see who is going to sit on the Malacañang throne next. A reprise of “Imeldificalifragilisticexpialidocious” reign coming up, anyone?
God save us!
- GEORGE DEL MAR, firstname.lastname@example.org
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