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FASTLANES: Flirting with anarchy

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 11 Jan) – The injustice that had befallen Mayor Oscar S. Moreno has had his political opponents exposing themselves. Truly, the plot thickens.

First to jump on the gun on the mayor was his erstwhile ally, second district Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, who thought the order of dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public office facilitates his entry as Cagayan de Oro’s helmsman.

The congressman, a respected lawyer, a dean in fact, was all over town calling for the mayor to step down when it was clear Moreno still had legal remedies to stave off stepping down from office.

The Court of Appeals for Mindanao has been at the receiving end of pressure from those who want to shortcut the change of leadership at City Hall. The appellate court has been called names in November when Moreno sought a legal remedy to prevent an irreparable injustice. At first, it seemed he was knocking on empty hall when justices of the CA inhibited themselves. Then at the last minute of office hours of November 12 came the 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO).

Rodriguez thought that without Moreno in the mayoralty race, it would be easier for him to beat Dongkoy Emano, whom Moreno routed in 2013. While Rodriguez and Moreno were hurling brickbats last November, Dongkoy Emano was silent. Although it is public knowledge that the Ajinomoto case filed by William Guialani was at the behest of fallen cause of the violet cult.

But even then, his PaDayon cult cannot contain its excitement, salivating much at the chance of tasting more power. Vice Mayor Ian Acenas and Councilor Candy Darimbang were so elated to have experienced power a notch higher, albeit for less than 24 hours as the CA said that the TRO it issued does not only refer to the service of the dismissal order but also put on hold the decision of the ombudsman to dismiss Moreno and acting city treasurer Glenn Banez, based on its power to review decisions by the Ombudsman. This power has been laid out very recently by the Supreme Court in the Junjun Binay case.

Acenas and Darimbang grudgingly allowed business as usual, taking back their respective seats – the vice mayoralty and at the City Council after the appellate court explained that the 60-day TRO retains Moreno’s leadership at City Hall. But Ian, the usually meek-looking politician, had sharp words before stepping down, saying: Mayor Moreno, bilang na ang araw mo!

And then while we celebrated Christmas and New Year, obviously, the vice mayor and their cult leader Dongkoy Emano were counting days in earnest that as soon as the scent of New Year’s gunpower disappeared they suddenly went extremely toxic about stripping Moreno of the mayoralty.

Suddenly, in what seemed to be an awakening, a lucid interval, Ian Acenas remembered he was mayor. No, he is mayor! And the people around him chorused, Yes and what now?

And then they thought of banging through the doors of the Court of Appeals. Accusing the appellate court of bias to Moreno, of being bribed to rule in favor of the beleaguered mayor. Putting up placards like TRO for sale, Buhis gisuhol sa huwis.

It is basic good manners and right conduct to show proof when accusing anyone of wrongdoing. But, obviously, the violet cult does plan to show any proof.

They claim in general terms that “Cagayanons” are rising up to demand justice from the CA. Congressman Rufus Rodriguez belied claims he had called on his supporters to rally at the CA, saying even his initials RR had been used without his permission in some of the placards.

Now, this is one thing the violet cult cannot just ram down the collective “Cagayanons”. It is a fact that many, if not most of those in the CA rally cum vigil are hakot crowd. In barangay Bulua for example, beneficiaries of the 4Ps program of the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development were called to a meeting at the Barangay Hall only to be ferried to the CA premises when they arrived. No 4Ps meeting.

The violet cult leader is a mean political strategist that would make Machiavelli and great Nazi propagandist Goebbels suspect their brilliance.

Their plot is simple.

Create a scenario that 1) the CA will rule in favor of Mayor Moreno because “gisuholan” or bribed; 2) The CA should be pressured not to rule in favor of Moreno, thus the rally and vigil up to the 60th day or the lapse of the TRO. To egg on their followers, the violet cult leader has to show up in the rally; 3) If Moreno gets another reprieve in the form a Writ of Preliminary Injunction, they will be trouble; 4) Meanwhile, Ian Acenas asserts himself as mayor and at the same time plead the court for him to intervene in a case he or his violet cult has claimed to have nothing to do at all.

For all intents and purposes, this is not how civilized society maintain the rule of law and settle dispute, differences and conflicts. The Courts decide on facts, on laws and on the applicable merits. Courts ideally should be shielded from external pressures, lobbyists and yes, even rallyists.

The CA may just be tolerant and liberal, which to me is good, in allowing the rally outside it, otherwise those who have bastardized the principle of shielding the courts from external pressure risk direct and/or indirect contempt of court. We shall see in the next few days if the CA will crack its whip or not.

It is important to respect judicial processes, otherwise our society will fall into anarchy. That would be a tragedy the violet cult seemed all to willing to happen just to satisfy their lust and insatiable appetite for power. Moreno sought refuge in the CA when he thought his right to due process was violated when the Ombudsman ruled to dismiss him and Banez without reading his counter-affidavit.

Due process and the right to free expression are inviolable constitutional rights. Moreno validly sought reprieve from the CA to prevent the violation of his right to due process.

Now, while the violet rally at the CA could be construed as part of freedom of expression, there is one thing they have proved – what grievances do they want redressed? What has crystallized though is that connection between the Guialani case and the violet cult.

With no tangible right violated nor needs redressed, we can surmise power grab as the motive of these rallies at the CA. Election is just around the corner, why can’t they wait? We know fully well the consequences of their anarchic ends is not good for the city and our democracy in general.

Truly the plot thickens, but the soup certainly leaves bad taste in the mouth, it may need to be spit out.

(The author, a Mindanawon, can be reached at bency.ellorin@gmail.com.)

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