Monday, January 30, 2012

The strange pronouncements of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

I was struck by the strangeness of the positions and actions of the current leadership of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines regarding
the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Yet some people claim that the positions of the IBP are supported by the majority of the lawyer members. (no figures to back this up though).

The first strange pronouncement was when I read simultaneously "paid" advertisements of a group of former presidents(chairmen) of the IBP and
the current IBP under the leadership of Atty. Libarios. The first group welcomed the impeachment trial(there are no "sacred cows") and the latter considered the impeachment trial as an attack on the judiciary and presented arguments against the 8 articles of impeachment. The articles of impeachment were signed by 188 members of the House of Representatives, still smarting from the Supreme Court handing a Status Quo Ante order in the ombudsman M. Guttierez case) for transmittal to the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

The next strange pronouncement by the current IBP leadership was reported in (dated Jan 13) that IBP hits Palace use of ‘pork’.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) denounced ALLEGED moves by Pres. Aquino and his political lieutenants to use pork barrel funds to convince senators to vote for the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona.An excerpt from this report:

“Pork barrel is a detestable political tool that should have no place in the impeachment process,” said IBP spokesperson Dennis Habawel, who was reacting to news reports about the purported Palace attempt to influence the outcome of Corona’s impeachment trial.

This elicited some responses from the senators,

Sen. Franklin Drilon,threatened to cite in contempt those responsible for the accusation, saying “that canard is not even worth a denial.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson,(after receiving some messages from a text brigate): “That makes the IBP report a dubious one and a cheap shot to put the senator-judges on the spot,” he said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who described himself as a lifetime IBP member, said: “This charge is not only unfounded. It is old, rehashed allegations.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada recalled that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo USED the pork barrel to shoot down the yearly impeachment complaints filed against her:
I am not aware of any moves to offer us pork barrel in exchange for a conviction (of Corona) and I don’t think anyone would do what Gloria did when she was president.

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr:"In fairness, I don’t believe that the President will allow this nor consent to it.

Finally the latest strange pronouncement from the current IBP leadership, See the Jan 28 article Still no valid proof of Corona's ill-gotten wealth

Prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona have not established convincing evidence of corruption even after the seventh hearing on the complaint

--Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)

This early conclusion looks like a premeditated conditioning of the minds of the general public. The trial is still ongoing, and it may take more than one witnesses until article 2 is fully discussed, and what is more, the prosecution is NOT allowed to offer direct evidence on Section 2.4 about allegations on the "ill gotten wealth" issue.

Trying to connect the dots why the IBP acted strange in these situations, I chanced upon this eye opening and thought provoking article by Ed. Macasaet. He claimed that Corona has destroyed the independence of the IBP and manipulated the organization. We have the IBP leadership behaving like beholden to himself in the same manner that the Chief Justice behaved towards the previous president. Macasaet claimed that there was no election for governor or of the IBP in Western Visayas, still born out by visiting the IBP home page to see the current crop of governors has a glaring omission for Western Visayas!

The thesis of Macasaet's article is that Libarios was virtually installed by Corona to become IBP President. Corona rendered a controversial decision shortly after he was installed as the midnight chief justice that paved the way for Libarios to become IBP President.

Alas we can only conclude that the The IBP under the current leadership of the honorable Libarios is not a watchdog at all in this impeachment trial period but a fierce bull-dog to attack prosecutors and critics of the Honorable Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Further reading:
Ed Macasaet:Corona, Libarios: Disintegrated bar
Ed Macasaet: Libation and lawyers

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