Structural violence is alive and well. What’s new?
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno faces impeachment complaint
This story is about a couple months old so let’s start with some exposition.
Larry Gadon is a lawyer who previously worked as part of the legal team of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for four years. He is currently part of the Pro-Duterte Constitutional Reformers to Federalism, and has offered to act as a lawyer for the Duterte Youth. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. She replaced Renato Corona, who was impeached and removed from office in May 2012.
Gadon filed an impeachment complaint against Sereno in September, alleging that Sereno earned P37 million in lawyer’s fees, but did not declare them in her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. Simply speaking, Gadon is accusing Sereno of spending more money than a Chief Justice is supposed to. (Quick fact: according to the 1987 Constitution, an impeachment complaint can be filed on grounds of “culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust.”) The House justice committee voted 30-4, describing Gadon’s complaint as “sufficient in form and substance.” Sereno then responds to this complaint — with the help of lawyer Alex Poblador in her legal team — with an 85-page Verified Answer, rebutting Gadon’s allegations. This was back in September.
A House Justice committee hearing was held on November 22 to examine Gadon’s impeachment complaint for probable cause. Basically, to check if it’s valid. What’s weird though is that Gadon’s personal knowledge of Sereno’s crimes isn’t easily verifiable. Like, he got his information from “a friend”? Documents are missing? The amount of P37 million was a “mental calculation”? In another report, Gadon says he doesn’t remember who his sources are. Who is this dude and how’d he pass the Bar?
Where we’re at now is that three justices have “expressed their intention to testify in the impeachment proceedings” against Sereno. Another discussion on Gadon’s allegations that Sereno has committed high crimes and betrayed public trust is set to take place from December 4-6.
Drug bust coverage gets called out
On November 27, the police carried out a drug bust in a hotel room in Bonifacio Global City that resulted in the apprehension of 11 individuals who, possessing over P380,000 worth of illegal drugs, were allegedly in the middle of a drug-fueled orgy. It seems exceedingly rare for a drug bust operation to go this well, with 1) actual drugs involved and 2) zero tragedies. But this is the Philippines, and things never go as well as they’re supposed to.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported after the bust, one out of the 11 individuals was HIV-positive, and insinuated that this person “infected” everyone else in the hotel room. Many on social media were quick to point out how problematic the report of the bust was, and how it further strengthened the already prevalent stigma attached to HIV-positive people. It should be noted that the PDEA, in revealing that one of the people had HIV, violated Article 6 of RA8054, or the Aids Prevention and Control Act, in breaching confidentiality.
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, who has advocated for HIV awareness, released a statement on Instagram condemning the way the PDEA exposed the HIV-positive individual. On Wednesday, November 29, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino issued an apology, stating, “PDEA has expressed regret in the inadvertent mention during a recent press conference that one of the suspects, though his identity was withheld, is infected with HIV. We may have gone overboard by violating his right to privacy.”
The Libyan slave trade is putting African refugees in danger
In global news, CNN released an exclusive investigative report on the slave trade happening in Libya. The issue, like any story involving political power and the violation of human rights, involves a lot of factors. But to put it in layman’s terms, migrants and refugees often have to go through Libya in order to find better opportunities in Europe. In Libya though, these migrants and refugees are captured by smugglers, and are literally auctioned off.
The Libyan government says it is currently investigating these allegations. Francois Delattre, French ambassador of the United Nations, has pressed the UN to impose sanctions on those involved in the slave trade. President Donald Trump however, in a ridiculous yet unsurprising show of social media tomfoolery, accused via tweet that CNN’s coverage of the issue is “fake news.” Broadcaster Libya 218 has clung to this accusation to discredit CNN’s coverage of the story.
And none for Rachel Peters
By the way, Rachel Peters lost Miss Universe 2017. This would usually be a reason for us to mourn and wail. But she said we should give Mocha Uson a chance, and uh, something about coffee shops? So, no mourning or wailing here. Bye.