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Monday, July 15, 2024

Justice Carpio is afraid to fight his own battles

“Why is he raising the issue only now?”

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Retired Supreme Court (SC) Justice Antonio Carpio, the founder of 1Sambayan and the instigator of the disqualification petitions filed against Bongbong Marcos (BBM) in the Commission on Elections (Comelec), is afraid to go out in the open.

Like a typical corporate lawyer withmany vested interests to protect, Carpio prefers to have others do the dirty work for him.

In June 2021, Carpio created a so-called “convenor group” called 1Sambayan, which unilaterally appropriated for itself the role of unifying the political opposition in the country, with the objective of fielding only one candidate for president in the 2022 elections.

To make his one-man show look like a group act, two more senior citizens entered the picture, namely, retired Ombudsman and former SC Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, and ex-Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

In 2010, SC Justice Carpio-Morales broke tradition by accepting President Noynoy Aquino’s request that she administer his oath of office as president. To insulate the SC from politics, that role is traditionally given to the Chief Justice of the SC. A month after Carpio-Morales retired from the SC, a grateful Noynoy Aquino appointed her Ombudsman.

Del Rosario served as Noynoy’s foreign affairs secretary from 2011 up to March 2016, when he resigned supposedly because of failing health. I suspect del Rosario has a difficult time speaking in Tagalog.

The launching of 1Sambayan on June 12, 2021 was a dud. One by one, candidates for president “shortlisted” by 1Sambayan turned down their “endorsements” and, to all intents and purposes, did not want to have anything to do with 1Sambayan. Only the discredited and desperate ex-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was willing to get himself anointed by Carpio’s pretentious group.

As quickly as it entered the political scene, 1Sambayan faded to obscurity.

It resurrected anew in late 2021 to announce its endorsement of the presidential run of Vice President Leni Robredo. For her part, however, Robredo was lukewarm to the 1Sambayan endorsement and decided to let the driftwoods of her old Liberal Party manage her campaign.

When 1Sambayan was still new, Carpio was at its centerstage. Now that 1Sambayan is insignificant, Carpio has lawyer Howard Calleja manage 1Sambayan for him. It seems to me that Carpio does not want to be associated with a group endorsing a loser.

Analysts believe that if Robredo has a chance to win the presidency in 2022, Carpio will re-enter the scene and make his presence known again. Carpio’s sidekick Calleja will be marginalized, where he actually belongs.

It was Carpio who instigated the issue regarding the supposed disqualification of BBM as a candidate for President. According to Carpio, a decision of the Court of Appeals rendered in 2001 in a tax case involving BBM when the latter was still a provincial governor (1982-1985) provides a valid ground to disqualify BBM from running for any elective public office, including the presidency, in May 2022.

After Carpio published his opinion in his regular column in another newspaper, radicals and red sympathizers took their cue from Carpio and filed the corresponding petitions in the Comelec against BBM. Those petitions quoted Carpio’s arguments. Even Calleja, was part of the anti-BBM ruckus.

Weeks after Carpio first raised the issue in his column, additional petitions were filed. None of them were filed by Carpio himself.

If Carpio is so sure about his arguments against BBM, how come Carpio isn’t brave enough to file a petition on his own behalf? Why does he let Calleja do the fighting for him?

At any rate, Carpio is stealthy and scheming.

Being a justice of the SC, Carpio must have known all along about the 2001 Court of Appeals decision he cited against BBM, and long before he even wrote about the disqualification issue against BBM in his newspaper column last year.

Why didn’t Carpio raise that issue against BBM when the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, was hearing the vice presidential election protest filed by BBM against Robredo back in 2016?

More specifically, if Carpio already knew that BBM had been disqualified from elective public office since 2001, why didn’t Carpio say so in the final decision of the PET which came out last year? Why is Carpio raising the issue only now?

The answer: Carpio knew that his argument against BBM would not hold water if he raised it in the proceedings in the PET. If Carpio’s argument against BBM was rejected by the PET, the stealthy Carpio would have deprived himself of a legal weapon which he can use to harass BBM in the event that BBM does run for president in 2022.

Let’s face it. Carpio has no credibility in his actuations against BBM for the simple reason that he is rooting for Robredo as president.

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