IBP Pangasinan to the rescue?

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

LAST week, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ national office committed a big booboo, sorely tainting its image and integrity as an organization that upholds professionalism and ethical practice among practitioners.

In fact, I wonder how my lawyer friends in Pangasinan reacted to that totally irregular scenario inside IBP headquarters.

That someone like Peter Advincula can actually use the IBP as a forum for political purposes was something I’m sure that no lawyer worth his name imagined that it could happen.

In fact, I’m certain IBP national could have not have been faulted if Advincula, an excon and a scammer, was clearly aided merely by an obscure college fraternity and surreptitiously operated to make it happen from inside walls of IBP headquarters. But nothing of that kind happened. The IBP facilities are well secured and only an IBP insider could have allowed the presscon to proceed with all the necessary basic amenities, i.e. logo of IBP for impact and credibility, microphone, proper lights, table and chair, podium, stage, area for TV cameras, photojournalists, parking spaces for  invited media outlets, etc.

 That the IBP officials took extraneous steps to explain its rejection of Advincula’s request for free legal assistance only showed that they hoped the rejection of the request would temper the public outrage that followed the presscon.  Again wrong judgment. Little did they realize that the rejection was already expected after the brouhaha over the presscon. So the news of the rejection was, in fact, anti climactic and did not serve IBP any good.

IBP’s lame excuse that no one among its officers was aware that Advincula was going to hold a presscon only served to confirm an attempt at covering up the surprise Advincula presscon. That only made matters worse for IBP.

At presstime, IBP remains silent about the presscon, praying and hoping perhaps that the storm will blow away.  I’m sure it will, but until IBP comes up with a credible explanation, IBP will be tainted and suspected of being political from hereon.

Could such a thing happen at the IBP building in Dagupan City? Could an outspoken discredited critic of Mayor Belen Fernandez or Vice Mayor Brian Lim or Guv Pogi do an Advincula?  If such an event could still happen here after that IBP blooper, our lawyers need to do some soul searching about what their profession stands for.    

What I know can help national IBP’s image is if the Pangasinan chapter would express its own regret over the incident if only to impress upon the public that the blooper was not by any stretch of imagination in accord with IBP’s mandate and mission. It’s not the time to sulk in a corner. It must come out with its head high!

To our lawyers, it’s bad enough that media practitioners are suffering from a negative public perception, don’t add to our ranks!

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COMPLETELY HELPLESS.  The helplessness of Comelec officials in enforcing campaign rules has become more evident by the unabated vote-buying under their very noses.

In fact, they themselves made it so obvious by asking the public and voters to take pictures of evidence and file the complaint when they themselves already acknowledge that they are aware of the rampant vote-buying in most towns and cities.

If they are aware, one wonders why they aren’t taking the pictures of voters queuing on the streets to redeem cash and goodies as promised by printed stubs? Certainly they couldn’t possibly miss them on their way to their offices. Why wait for citizens to file a complaint when they can have the evidence themselves, and help facilitate the prosecution?

It’s a big wonderment that there’s not a single Comelec official in the country that can claim he/she has evident to prove the vote-buying.  They won’t even admit that they know of barangay chairmen actively campaigning for their candidates in violation of Comelec rules. Shame shame.

Could that be the reason why most if not all Comelec chairmen, supervisors retire with a lot of “savings“ in their bank accounts? Check out former Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista et al.!

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GLENN CHONG’S CRUSADE. If there is any senate investigation in aid of legislation that needs to be called after the President’s SONA in July, it should be about the Comelec operations, not only about both its capability and inability to enforce its campaign rules, but to revive the investigation of cheating since 2013!

We need to see a respected, strict and honest Comelec if we are to have a clean, meaningful, orderly and peaceful campaign period and elections. Under the present circumstances, no one believes Comelec can render a credible election except a knowing perception that it cheats for favored candidates, local and national.

It doesn’t help that Smartmatic continues to operate the automated elections.

Hopefully, candidate Glenn Chong will get elected and can be expected to launch that campaign without letup and help us realize the dream of an efficient, effective Comelec with integrity. Give him that vote of confidence!

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REALTY CHECK. After all is said and done by May 15, we will all be faced with the reality that soon we will either be suffering the consequences or benefitting from our decision to elect the wrong and right candidates.

Watch out for the candidates known to be corrupt and won.  Expect them to do their worst to recover and profit from their posts on every turn. On the other hand, observe the candidates who won on their merits as good citizens, we will be seeing them working in earnest to make good on their campaign promises. 

So if you think voters have seen the last after election, the worst or the best is yet to happen in the next three years. 

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