By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The sacking of Magtanggol Gatdula as director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has triggered a war between Malacañang and the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) a story being circulated in text messages says the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) didn’t give in to the request of Malacañang to have retired Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas quit as lead defense counsel of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Cuevas himself confirmed the story when he said he had been approached by a Palace emissary to withdraw from the impeachment trial in exchange for the dropping of kidnapping charges to be filed against Gatdula.
Cuevas, who’s become popular because of his deft handling of Corona’s defense, and Gatdula are members of the INC.
Not only was Gatdula removed as NBI chief, he will also be charged with kidnapping and extortion in connection with the monthlong detention of a Japanese woman, Noriyo Ohara, an undocumented alien, at the NBI.
The President acted upon the recommendation of a Department of Justice fact-finding panel that probed Ohara’s arrest and detention by NBI agents.
While the President’s decision on the sacking of Gatdula is admirable—following his slogan that government people should tread the straight and narrow path—his pressure on Cuevas, if true, shows the character of a Mafia don. (Cuevas on Monday denied that he was being pressured by
Malacañang to quit as lead defense counsel—Ed).
He’s no better than former President Gloria and her husband, Mike Arroyo, who used the awesome power of government against their enemies; that is, if Cuevas is telling the truth.
On the other hand, the 83-year-old Cuevas has a tendency to exaggerate his point to attract sympathy for his client.
While the President’s vindictiveness in pursuing the impeachment case against Corona is repulsive, Cuevas’ playing to the gallery is disgusting if he’s telling a falsehood. For example, why didn’t Cuevas name the Palace emissary if he really exists?
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On the other hand, there’s another side to the Gatdula sacking story: That it was P-Noy who didn’t give in to the request of the influential religious sect not to remove Gatdula.
If that is true, then we should all support the President in his campaign to rid the government of undesirable elements no matter who gets hurt.
But a fly in the ointment is a customs official who’s very, very corrupt but could not be sacked from his post because he’s an INC member.
Other flies in the ointment are Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno and Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres, who were both linked to certain irregularities