P-Noy’s turn

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Sunday, July 13, 2014


LAWYER Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, who is facing plunder and graft charges with the Sandiganbayan, is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), which has taken custody of Reyes, allowed her transfer to the Heart center from the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital after she complained of chest pains.

Reyes will be subjected to medical tests and the result will be known Wednesday or Thursday yet. So she will remain at the Heart center until then. The status of her imprisonment will be known only after the medical tests are completed and if her doctors are honest enough in assessing her health condition.

Malacañang has already ordered BJMP officials to explain Reyes’s transfer to a hospital when she was ordered detained at the jail in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City by the Sandiganbayan. The transfer, militants noted, was made without a court order.

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I would withhold my criticism of the BJMP move until the results of the medical tests are in. I already learned from the experience of the other plunder and graft cases respondent, Janet Lim-Napoles.

I was among those who thought she was play acting when she cried before the court while pleading that she be allowed to seek medical care. Her doctors ended up recommending that she undergo a medical procedure. It turned out that the pain she was enduring was genuine. In our push for equal treatment of prisoners, we tended to lose our humanity.

I was imprisoned twice in the past, once inside the old Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center and once inside a military camp. I therefore know what it feels when your freedom of movement is restricted. The prison situation may be harsh or it may be lenient—but the feeling of being incarcerated is the same. The difference is in the intensity.

***

President Noynoy Aquino is scheduled to make a televised address to his “boss” tonight, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said yesterday. Coloma had said that the President has read the Supreme Court decision declaring parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional, and is ready to present Malacañang’s reaction to it.

This should be a welcome development because most of what we have been hearing after the High Court’s ruling has been the criticisms hurled at the Aquino administration, especially at Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and, by extension, P-Noy. The public has to hear the other side.

I don’t even think Abad’s silence is justified. Since the DAP became an issue months ago, Abad made himself scarce to reporters. Instead of clarifying matters, he allowed all the tirades, some of them unfounded, to rule. The people needed an explanation but didn’t get it.

In this sense, Abad should also have been at the forefront and not only the President. After P-Noy says his piece tonight, I hope Abad will follow suit and finally come out of his shell to answer questions about the DAP. He is the person most knowledgeable about it and, if he was the one who conceived it, is the most capable official to defend it.

I hope the President wouldn’t end up tonight sounding like his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose addresses to the public in the waning years of her presidency didn’t sound sincere. He should be forthright in his statement because he will be addressing his “bosses.”

I doubt, though if his critics, especially those with hidden political agenda, would be appeased. But I trust the capacity of the majority of the Filipino people to objectively weigh the DAP issue.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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