The Manila Times - Do PET members still receive a P100-K monthly allowance?

1 September 2020

By Reynaldo O. Arcilla | The Manila Times

THE law says the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) should have rendered a final decision on the protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against the “election” of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo two years ago.

The Public Information Office of the Supreme Court acknowledged receipt of my column last week titled “The Supreme Court and the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.” In reply, I asked what it was going to do about it. Will it be referring the matter to the appropriate officials in the high tribunal? I never got a response.

And so, consistent with my policy to keep reminding the public and concerned government officials about matters that need their attention, I am quoting hereunder the relevant portion of last week’s column, to wit:

“President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte’s alleged trip to Singapore the weekend before last has again given rise to speculations about his health.

Consequently, the matter of presidential succession again became the subject of much discussion in many quarters notwithstanding what is clearly stated in the Constitution about it.

However, because of the unresolved protest against the ‘election’ of Leni Robredo as vice president more than four years ago filed by former senator Bongbong Marcos, those who voted for him naturally want the protest resolved first.

And, I believe, rightly so. (Just to be clear, Marcos doesn’t know me from Adam.)

The big question is why hasn’t the Presidential Electoral Tribunal done so after four years?

Under Republic Act (RA) 1793 of June 21, 1957, the tribunal shall be composed of the Chief Justice as chairman and 10 other members of the court. However, the tribunal’s composition was changed under Batas Pambansa 884 of Dec. 3, 1985.

In any case, I think the composition of the tribunal is irrelevant insofar as the question of why it has not made a decision thus far on the petition filed by Marcos against Robredo after almost four years.

RA 1793 states that the tribunal ‘shall decide the contest within twenty months after it is filed.’

On the other hand, Batas Pambansa 884 specifies that the tribunal ‘must decide the contest within twelve months after it is filed.’

I believe the Chief Justice, as the chairman of the tribunal, owes the people an explanation as to why the Marcos petition is still up in the air. After four years??!!

Isn’t that a form of dereliction of duty?

In the meantime, the tribunal should also shed light on the information that members of the tribunal receive a monthly allowance of P100,000 on top of their regular salary.

Could this be the reason, or one of the reasons, why the tribunal has taken so long to resolve the issue? Just asking…”

‘Siga-siga’ Locsin

There he goes again, talking like a “siga-siga” (tough guy) against the most powerful country in our neighborhood — China!

President Rodrigo Duterte’s Amboy of a Foreign secretary, Teodoro “Tweeterboy” Locsin Jr., warned China that it should “expect the worst” should its recent military exercises in the South China Sea spill over into Philippine territory.

Early last month, Tweeterboy also warned China that it would be met with the “severest response” should its military exercises held at the time in the Paracels spill over to our territory.

China should thank its lucky stars that no such spillover occurred during the two military exercises. Otherwise…

But wait… how could Locsin possibly inflict the “worst” and the “severest” response to China had something of the sort taken place? Economically? No way.

Militarily? Isn’t President Digong the commander in chief of the Philippine Armed Forces? And hasn’t he in fact said that we would be slaughtered in an armed clash with China?

So, where is Tweeterboy Locsin coming from when he uttered such nonsense?

Soon after China fired off two ballistic missiles, one of which is supposed to be an “aircraft carrier killer,” during its recent military exercises in the South China Sea, the US immediately accused it of “flexing its muscle” and destabilizing peace in the region. The missiles were launched in response to the US sending of a spy plane over China’s claimed “no fly zone.”

As if on cue, Tweeterboy Locsin chimed in with his above-cited remarks against China like the dyed-in-the-wool Amboy that he is.

We actually do not have to resort to guesswork why he made those remarks. He is banking on his masters in Washington keeping their word about defending us in case of Chinese aggression.

He will be badly disappointed. For a fellow who is supposed to be brainy (his Twitter account even has the picture of a brain, human brain I suppose), it is surprising that he doesn’t seem to be aware of the times, the US failed to come to our succor when we needed it most; we who are supposed to be its friend and ally.

Also, for someone who tries to portray himself as an intellectual, he doesn’t seem to be aware of one basic fact in life — that there is no altruism in international relations.

China’s missile launches were reportedly made after the US announced that it was blacklisting 24 Chinese companies and individuals that were part of the construction of Chinese installations in the South China Sea.

Again, as if on cue, Tweeterboy Locsin suggested that the Philippines should likewise terminate contracts with Chinese companies that were involved in the construction of the Chinese military installations.

Malacañang, however, chose not to “dip its hands” into the US sanctions against Chinese companies and officials responsible for Beijing’s military build-up in the South China Sea.

Moreover, President Digong said in case the increasing tension between China and the US worsens into an open conflict, he would always pursue the Philippines’ interests first. To me, that sounded like he will be doing the exact opposite of what his Foreign secretary has been saying.

At the rate Tweeterboy Locsin is going, it is obvious he is the one kowtowing to the US, not Digong, as he himself said.

So, why is Locsin the foreign secretary? According to him, when he was Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, “I was very firm about protecting what is ours, I was very firm about never bending a knee to China. And that’s why he (Digong) took me.”

President Digong, Sir, is that true?

Is the US back in Subic?

There is a report that the mainstream media here has ignored, i.e., that Australian and US companies’ bid to take over Subic Bay will push through.

Australian shipbuilder and US private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management will reportedly soon take over the Subic Bay yard from Hanjin Shipping, a South Korean firm that went bankrupt in 2016.

For the sake of transparency, the government should inform the Filipino people what the actual lowdown is on the report.

If the US does return to Subic, what happens to the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and possibly the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement? Both agreements are inconsistent with President Digong’s policy of pursuing an independent foreign policy as mandated by the Constitution.

An independent foreign policy, in logical and irrefutable terms, means the absence on our soil of foreign troops and military bases which President Digong has in the past asserted in unmistakable fashion.

He, in fact, also said he did not want any military alliance with any country — including China, Russia and the US — which would mean ditching the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the US, a treaty without an instant retaliation clause that would oblige the US to come to our defense in case of an attack from any foreign power. As it were, the parties will have to go through their constitutional processes before any retaliatory action could be taken.

As the late President Ferdinand Marcos said: “We would have already been blown to smithereens before US congressional approval could be given.”