Monday, September 21, 2009

Probable Cause to be Suspicious of our Courts

Nothing has been heard about Celso de los Angeles. It would seem that he has died, not of throat cancer, which everyone is a doubting Thomas, but of newsworthiness. Media has inexplicably stopped reporting of his status, as a patient and as a respondent. One is tempted to draw two conclusions: that Celso is now old news and not worthy of media coverage, and, he has paid off any or all newshounds who have attempted to follow up what is happening to him and his cases.

Except for the DOJ's announcement of finding probable cause for the filing of estafa against Celso and two of his minions, there has been no further news. And to think that several cases were lodged against him, not only by Senator Mar Roxas but by groups of victims of his preneed scams. What about the multitude of cases filed by the BSP and PDIC? Sad to say, nothing to report about.

Earlier, we mentioned that there may be two possible conclusions re the virtual dearth of news, but there is another reason. It has always been believed that Celso was backed by powerful personalities, very high up in politics. One is Speaker Nograles, who has admitted to investing or depositing about P20 million pesos in Legacy accounts. He also acknowledged that Celso is a partymate. The other personality is not a politician, but is the most powerful civilian in the Philippines. He can easily whisper "back off" to any government agency, and one can be sure that it would. And that would explain why the DOJ downgraded the syndicated estafa originally filed by Senator Roxas, to the watered-down case of simple estafa. Expect DOJ to do these to all the cases filed under it, and that would explain why it ordered all cases to be consolidated for filing in one court: the Makati RTC.

Remember the reason why the Legacy banks were able to continue operations inspite of BSP investigations and closure orders? TROs issued by the lower courts which enabled Celso to collect and embezzle an additional P1.4 billion in bank deposits. Do you expect the courts to pull the rug under Celso, and treat him like the criminal that he is? Your guess is as good as ours.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hallelujah! Or is it too Early to Celebrate?

Por fin, after waiting for months, or to be exact, 8 months after the first filing of cases against Celso and his cohorts, the DOJ issued a resolution last Friday finding "probable cause" of estafa against Celso de los Angeles and two of his officers. If you think this is a cause of celebration, first read on and then decide whether you should upraise your hands in praise or clench them into fists of rage.

In the original case filed by Sen. Mar Roxas, the respondents were Celso and 19 board members and directors of the defunct Legacy Consolidated Plans Inc. However, only De los Angeles and his employees, Christine Limpin & Edgardo Marasigan were included in the DOJ resolution announced last week. Limpin was Legacy's SVP for legal, while Marasigan was the corporate secretary.

For reducing the case respondents to 3 from the original 20, the DOJ resolution is a watered-down version of the syndicated estafa case filed by the senator. A syndicated estafa is committed by a syndicate or at least 5 people and is a non-bailable offense. Since the DOJ resolution covers only 3 respondents, the case is effectively downgraded into a simple estafa, which is a bailable offense.

Remember the pledge of DOJ Secretary Agnes Devanadera? who upon assuming the mantle of leadership, that she would revitalize the department and work for the speedy disposition of cases, specifically mentioning among other, Celso and the legacy cases. Well, she followed up on her promise but as expected, bending backwards to accommodate the powerful perpetuators. Now, she can say that she is true to her word, but she is also true to her profession as a government official who protects the powerful at the expense of the hapless victims. Devanadera is the mirror image of Ombudsman Gutierrez, who if not sitting on high-profile cases, files cases that are lame and full-of-holes.

And they are women. Isn't justice depicted as a woman who holds scales? These two could have risen above personal loyalties and monetary incentives(?) to become women of substance. But the same thing could have been said of their boss who is a woman. Perhaps, Cory Aquino was who she was because she had a hero of a husband. So does this mean that the three other women in power now, have zeros for husbands?