House of Representatives

[Newspoint] The court of comeuppance

Vergel O. Santos

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[Newspoint] The court of comeuppance

Alejandro Edoria

Apparently wishing to come across as right-minded, Ferdinand Jr. seems inclined to not only junk Duterte but clean up his mess, although not his family’s own

Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz, chief falsehood propagators and red-taggers for Rodrigo Duterte, the previous president, are seeking protection under the rule of law, the very ideal they themselves mocked and subverted during their turn at power. Not unlike the godless who all too suddenly find themselves mouthing Scripture, they have fallen back on the democratic constitution to save their own hides. 

Cited for contempt and detained by the House of Representatives for arrogant conduct at its investigation into their licentious practice, they demanded to be set free with their rights restored to them, again the same rights they had used to destroy not only reputations but lives. They even appropriated an extreme means of righteous protest among detainees, although it is said they only went on a diet – which both of them could certainly use – not a hunger strike. 

Anyway, as only usual in contempt cases, they were out in a few days. But even if it had been a genuine hunger strike and gone its full course, it would have gained nothing for any decent cause.

For his part, Bong Go, the slavish, if silent, Duterte plant in the Senate, has found his voice, but only to lend it to the improbable chorus for democratic equity, a preemptive public-relations move, I guess. He styles himself now as a champion of the downtrodden, who precisely found themselves crushed underfoot in his master’s draconian regime, which made the poor poorer by misgovernance and corruption and killed many of their young in a drug war so indiscriminate and brutal Duterte and some of his lieutenants – Go, though not among them, is a prospective respondent – are being made to answer for it to the International Criminal Court, in The Hague. 

All this pathetic turnabout has been occasioned generally by the fall of the Duterte bloc from the governing coalition and the consolidation of power in the opposite bloc, which is dominated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s family and its loyalists, among them heirs of cronies from his late father’s dictatorial regime. Apparently wishing to come across as right-minded, Ferdinand Jr. seems inclined to not only junk Duterte but clean up his mess, although not his family’s own. And that’s precisely the plot in which Badoy and Celiz are caught as particular targets, along with the broadcast franchisee coddling them and championing Duterte – SMNI. 

SMNI is Sonshine Media Network International. I don’t know what the “Son” in “Sonshine” stands for, but, combined with “Shine,” it tends to make some sense in the context of network patron Apollo Quiboloy’s claim that he is “the Appointed Son of God” and also “the Owner of the Universe.” 

Like Duterte, Quiboloy is in trouble with a foreign court, in more advanced trouble in fact. An arrest warrant, for now a mere prospect for Duterte, is already out for Quiboloy, for human trafficking, in the United States. But his immediate worry is  right here, not an ocean away. And that is SMNI.  

Although “Owner of the Universe” by self-proclamation, he says he does not own SMNI. But then it is listed as “the broadcasting arm of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ,” the sect he heads. Obviously unable to make his problem go away by any supernatural powers, he is forced to rely on human tricks to avoid being hauled to Congress, the franchise bestower, for questioning and being subjected to mortal sanctions, as were Badoy and Celiz.

Actually, he may no longer expect a summons from the House since its investigating committee is ending its hearings, not exactly good news in itself; the committee has simply decided it has seen and heard enough to become convinced SMNI deserves to be suspended, if not to forfeit its franchise altogether. In its resolution, it cites SMNI “for the broadcasting of obscene or indecent language, speech, act, or scene; or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, to the detriment of the public interest.” 

With the senators, the prospect looks decidedly worse for Quiboloy personally; the agenda for their inquiry is shaping up to include an issue he managed to suppress in a more favorable political climate — sexual abuse. With accusers now willing to go public – if Sen. Risa Hontiveros is to be believed – Quiboloy’s lawyers are scrambling to steer the attention of the public, hopefully along with that of the senate majority – Duterte’s own co-opted majority until his fall – away from that visceral issue and toward the more clinical ones, like franchise and freedom of expression, and the constitutional rights that inform them.

In fact, the discussions in the news media and other public forums tend precisely to be clinical and legal, enveloped in the high-minded context of the rule of law and democratic justice, which all seems to me either naive or pretentious. In a society where the operating culture is one of patronage, true justice, or any semblance of it, is achievable only in cases that don’t interest the people in power enough for them to waste any effort to intervene or intercede. 

I’m not saying Badoy, Celiz, Quiboloy, Duterte, and others in the same boat as they have better chances in a proper court of justice; I’m only saying their cases are just the sort to land and be decided in the court of comeuppance, just desserts, and karma. –

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  1. ET

    The cases of Badoy, Celiz, Quiboloy, and Duterte are tests of our Justice System and Judiciary. Indeed, quoting Vergel Santos: “… their cases are just the sort to land and be decided in the court of comeuppance, just desserts, and karma.” These are cases worth following and keeping updated with for they will lead us to the knowledge of the True Nature of our Justice System and Judiciary.

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