OPINION: Aguirre, Yasay...and Caligula!

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Feb 17 2017 03:56 AM

After a period of public acquaintance, I have now come to discern that the Cabinet nominations of Vitaliano Aguirre II and Perfecto Yasay, Jr., Justice and Foreign Affairs portfolios respectively, appear to be irreducible evidence of President Duterte’s natural disdain for integrity--and presidential unconcern for  personal merit.

It is an abject reflection of a pig-headed mindset that has become the distinguishing tatoo of his imperiousness. What  seems to matter most to the dictator from Davao may thus be expressed: “My Kingdom come, mine will be done….”  Recall that the President is so fond of saying “my country,”….”my people.”  Although we have not yet heard Duterte say “I am the Lord, thy God,” to all who oppose him, a cascade of cuss words and other vulgarities always await! Perhaps, even including “I will kill you !!!” depending upon the angle, shape and orientation of the moon!

The confirmation of Aguirre is now a done deal, courtesy of Duterte’s rubber stamp/door mat. A panel of the Commission on Appointments (Committee on Justice/Sen. Loren Legarda is chair) endorsed Aguirre’s ad interim appointment for confirmation by the entire CA’s plenary. It is also a confirmation that political alliances can intentionally be oblivious to an absence of merit and ethical behavior.

Yasay’s pends; in fact, already delayed because there arose unresolved questions of character and moral competence that otherwise ought to result in summary outright rejection.

The subservience and supine slavishness of much of Congress will once more take center stage when when Yasay’s nomination comes up for hearings. Will the Commission on Appointments perform in Pavlovian fashion (uto-uto!) and surrender to a Caligula-like imposition. (braso!) Or exhibit, at last, some spine? The Aguirre and Yasay instances provide exhibits.

The unrestrained display of madness and incoherence emanating from Malacanang since the ill-election of a minority President has inevitably led to a search for comparatives, even if only to endow our current plight with more comprehensible sense and dimension. Thus, I am led to remembering Caligula.He is the Roman Emperor (actually one of the Caesars) who ruled about the time of Jesus Christ. It was Caligula who wanted to appoint his favorite horse a consul of the Empire! Caligula is also famous for a scary utterance: “Remember that I have the right to do anything to anybody.”

Enough said, let us visit the unfitness of Aguirre and Yasay.

The cover-up that binds

There is a confluence that binds Yasay to Aguirre. It raises the question: Is Aguirre, as Secretary of Justice, sitting on, obstructing (and hoping to obscure, maybe vainly wishing the matter would disappear--it will not!) criminal cases against Yasay (and other Banco Filipino principals, notably Albert C. “Bobby” Aguirre.)? The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), and corollarily, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), filed criminal cases against Perfecto Yasay, et al. in August of 2016. The cases may be characterized as swindle. Philippine law refers to it as “syndicated estafa.” Yasay a syndicated swindler?

The Yasay persona possesses facets that demand eagle-eyed CA oversight and fine-tooth-combed scrutiny, all in the pursuit of prudence and restraint. The nominee is, after all, accused of a non-bailable crime, potentially punishable by a lifetime sentence!
Let us take note that Yasay was vice-chairman of Banco Filipino (BF) as well as its chief legal counsel at the time when BF collapsed, the second time around! He was top dog- “consigliere” to the lead accused, Bobby Aguirre, behaving as ‘Don,’ (Corleone or JR Ewing, take your pick!) BSP and PDIC investigations unearthed bank records which reflected expenses for legal fees in the amount of PhP245 million in just one year--2010! (Fasten your seat belts, this is independent of another PhP620 Million in unliquidated non-bank-related personal expenses!)

Already mired neck-high in lies about his dual citizenship and his documented use and past possession of an American passport, let us just zero in on those legal fees. Yasay must provide answers. How was the PhP245 million divied up. Did his law firm report such income in the firm’s Internal Revenue filings for the corresponding year? How much did he report as his personal income in his tax returns for that year? (My prognosis is that there was willful tax evasion. But that is for the CA to discover.)  If hefty amounts did not end up as “legal” income of Yasay’s firm and of his lawyering, who then received the funds?  

What are the odds that Perfecto Yasay, Jr., Duterte’s nominee for Foreign Affairs secretaryship, aside from lying about his citizenship, is not only a ‘syndicated swindler’ but also a tax cheat?

“Thou shalt not bear false witnesses against thy neighbor.”

Do we have a problem with justice in the Philippines?  Yes, we do. Its personification and embodiment is Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre II.

How many times has Duterte’s so-called “Secretary of Justice” swore to matters that he knew  to be untrue? Aguirre’s moral and professional character is defined by and  
finds unequivocal attestation in his reckless and relentless persecution of the seemingly indestructible Senator Leila de Lima. This, simply because she defiantly stood for human rights and investigated the Davao Death Squad, known to be then-Mayor Duterte’s choice instrument of bloody violence that attended his demented view of civic order.
And this, while the nation slept, President Duterte has now transplanted and applied to Metro Manila!

Secretary of “Justice” Aguirre has already have been gifted a ‘pass’ by a Commission on Appointments panel. More than likely, he will continue to serve as a useful, blindly dutiful attack dog of President Duterte. It is doubtful, however, that he will survive the humiliation of disbarment that will be hounding him for the rest of his life. Ironically, disbarment for Aguirre is indeed justice!

Has Aguirre prostituted the ends of justice when he serially slaked Duterte’s blood thirst for Sen. De Lima by dehumanizing and vilifying her? Evidence of trumped-up charges, manufacture and planting of false evidence, witness tampering and coercion, obstruction of justice and perjury are undoubtedly rife. 

May the source of the Ninth Commandment have mercy on Aguirre’s soul!

Enhanced Incompetence and Caligula’s demise

The incompetence displayed by President Duterte when further enhanced by self-centered stubbornness in his choice and appointment of deplorable characters like Aguirre and Yasay while a doormat Congress shamelessly acquiesces, it can only mean that the revered operating principles of democratic governance we have come to know as “advice and consent,” and “checks and balances,”  “oversight and restraint” have all been devalued and debased.
Once, not too long ago, these were sancrosanct. Today, a mockery! What madness!

Oh, before I forget. Caligula was assassinated by his Praetorian guards! History’s verdict: wages of  a sick mind!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.