By Ellen Tordesillas
There is something sinister in Gloria Arroyo’s re-appointment of Efraim Genuino and four other members of the board to the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation in violation of the ban on midnight appointments.
Last week, my friends and I were talking about how the grim predictions about the May 10 elections were proven wrong.
I asked, “Were we wrong about Gloria Arroyo? ”
I asked that because we all believed that she would do everything to hold on to power beyond June 2010 including cause a failure of election.
Our paranoia was not unfounded. We have seen Malacañang’s efforts to change the Constitution to remove the term limit that prohibits Arroyo from staying on to power. There was an attempt to change the form of government from presidential to parliamentary that would have qualified Arroyo to stay on as prime minister.
The people registered their opposition vehemently forcing Arroyo and her cohorts to shift to whatever other options.
Our fears about the automated elections were borne by our deep distrust for her compounded by her refusal to retire from politics once out of Malacañang and instead decided on running for a Pampanga’s congressional seat, which she won handily.
Failure of election didn’t happen and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III,the candidate whose platform was anchored on “change” and making Arroyo accountable for the numerous anomalous deals during her nine-year presidency, won the election convincingly.
The public’s attention is now focused on the official canvassing and the look of the incoming administration.
Does that mean that we are finally through with Gloria Arroyo? That we were wrong in thinking that she would hold on to power by all means because she would be brought to court once she is out of power?
Aquino’s mandate was overwhelming and Arroyo, a seasoned politician, knows when not to confront the people’s wrath. What is more important for her now is to erase traces of her crimes.
Arroyo’s contentious appointment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona was an indication that Arroyo is covering her tracks and it would not be easy to prosecute her for the crimes she committed against the Filipino people.
Her re-appointment of Genuino and for other directors to Pagcor is intriguing. It’s brazenness suggests that she is not done covering her tracks.
Pagcor , which supervises all gambling operations in the country generates some P17 billion a year and a huge part of it goes to the President’s Social Fund. In the past, she used the fund to keep the loyalty of congressmen and local officials.
Gambling aficionados talk of one service casinos give. It sounds like money laundering.
I’m not into gambling so I don’t know how that works.
Just like the many other midnight appointments she issued ( her manicurist to the Pag-IBIG Fund and her gardener to the Luneta Park Administration), the re-appointment of Genuino and company were dated March 9, one day before the start of the ban on presidential appointments.
No one believes that it was not ante-dated. In fact, the receipt by Pagcor of the appointment which was April 28, 2010 support the suspicion that the actual date of appointment was after March 10, which renders it illegal.
The eminent Constitutionalist, Fr. Joaquin Bernas , in an interview with ABS-CBN said, it is not only the appointment date that should be considered but also the date in which the appointment was accepted. “It's [appointment] completed by acceptance,” he said.
Bernas said the Pagcor appointments violate the spirit of the Constitution, which bans midnight appointments. “An outgoing president is just a caretaker,” he said.
Arroyo loyalist Elena Bautista, head of the Presidential Management Staff, downplayed the legal questions saying they have studied and besides, she said, “it’s just for one year.”
A billion things can happen in one year. Ask anyone in the laundry business.
Ellen Tordesillas is a Manila-based journalist who blogs and writes columns for daily newspaper Malaya and Abante, a Filipino tabloid. Her articles published on Purple Thumb are syndications of articles published on her blog.Currently, she writes articles "relevant to strengthening democracy and making life worth living." She is a trustee and writer of VERA Files, a group that undertakes in-depth reporting on current issues.
Reposted From Ellen Tordesillas