I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Leonardo and Lucenito

It would seem that people are having a really tough time accepting the appointments of the two new Comelec commissioners.

Surprisingly, in Leonardo Leonida’s case, the main objection isn’t to the kitschy alliteration in his name (that was my personal gripe) but to the administrative case for which he was admonished by the Supreme Court. Reading through the Newsbreak report, it would seem that the root cause of the admonition was – explicitly – not corruption but the perception that certain surety agents enjoyed a certain level of clout with Leonida when he was still a judge. Apparently, the agents were so influential that they could order office staff to do things like type release forms, allegedly upon Leonida’s say so.

The Court, in other words, warned Leonida to be more careful about how he could be perceived. A judge, after all, is expected to be like Caesar’s wife.

While the bare assertion that he was admonished by the Supreme Court clearly implies that Leonida is a bad character, reading between the lines gives me the impression that he was more hapless than ruthless. Anyone who has had any sort of dealing with government offices knows for a fact that in any office there is always a cadre of private individuals the regularly do business with that office. In most government offices, this cadre consists mostly of agents of suppliers – sniffing around for contracts to bid for or collecting payments or selling odds and ends. In trial courts, surety agents – those who secure bail bonds – are the office lurkers.

And it is also a known fact that these individuals have been around for so long that there is often an easy familiarity between them and the office staff and, on occasion, the boss or (in this case) the judge. This familiarity leads to these individuals being tolerated certain liberties – like telling the boss’ secretary to type up something for the boss’ signature – as Leonida was accused of. In a vast majority of cases, these activities are harmless since the staff can easily confirm the order with the boss. But the staff usually don’t either because the activity is routine or because they’re on good terms with these individuals anyway.

More plainly stated, the act Leonida was accused of – coupled with the finding that no corruption was involved – was harmless and ultimately meaningless. In fact, about the only circumstance that makes it shady is the fact that Leonida was, in fact, a judge and should have held himself to a higher standard. But still, with no corruption tainting the big picture, we are left only with the image of a judge who was lax in running his office, either because he didn’t have a forceful character or because he was easy-going by nature. I would have said incompetent, except that the Supreme Court didn’t conclude that either.

Hardly reason to disqualify him from becoming a commissioner.

The problem, I think, is that people are apprehensive of the Comelec becoming subservient. In truth, there is much logic in this fear. A weak-willed commissioner who cannot even control his own staff will not likely be able to stand up to the powers that be. In that way, the Comelec might truly end up like silly putty in the hands of unscrupulous powers. And inasmuch as the Comelec performs quasi-judicial functions, i.e., at some point, Leonida will have to be a judge again, this track record of weak-willed management portends a future where all his decisions will be mistrusted because people think that he can be manipulated or unduly influenced. He may not be a shrewd operator like Garci was; but his apparent pliability might well ensure the same outcome.

So, taking everything into consideration, I’d have to say, wtf was the Palace thinking? My theory is that Leonida is not a serious appointment but more of a placeholder. Someone who can give the Comelec the quorum it needs but who can easily be replaced when he is inevitably rejected by the CA, or when he is no longer convenient to have around. In a sense, this also explains why he was appointed only to finish out the recently deceased commissioner’s term.


Lucenito Tagle’s appointment, on the other hand, was clearly based on his race’s uncompromising honesty and dedication to cold logic. I mean look at the picture.

The guy’s a Vulcan!


Filed under: 2010 watch, politics, , , , ,

One Response

  1. Eugene says:

    Not in the picture are rene sarmiento (a.k.a. boy kosa) who is now pushing for prisoners’ right to vote, nicodemo ferrer (a.k.a. boy paltik) who heads the infamous gun ban committee, armando velasco (a.k.a little boy baguio) who before becoming commissioner is a regional director of comelec CAR, and Elias Yusoph (a.k.a. boy george) who is the most gorgeous man among the commissioners in the Comelec. hehehehe

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