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PIA Press Release
2009/02/18

Commentary: The minority report

By Bong Pedalino

Maasin City (18 February) -- Based on published reports regarding the Supreme Court decision last week on the case of the convicted American soldier, the minority report was generally taken as more straightforward and to the point than the majority report.

This was because the minority report -- commonly known as the dissenting opinion -- was very specific and categorical when it declared that Lance Corporal Daniel Smith be sent to the Bilibid prisons for raping “Nicole” in 2005; as such it would put an end to his luxurious stay at the US Embassy since the last part of 2006.

The majority, voting 9-4, also desired to keep Smith in RP jail, but this has to be done via the cumbersome route of coordinating first with the United States for the otherwise simple task of selecting where Smith should stay behind bars while serving time for his 40-year sentence.

****

The nagging question begs for answer: What if the US would not care to negotiate, or would do everything to delay discussion until Christ’s return?

In such a case Smith will still be in RP but in the US Embassy, and that’s forever.

In effect, the High Court’s decision as a collegial body seems to be lacking force simply because of the pre-conditions attached.

****

Good that the US of A is now under the leadership of President Barack Obama, whose style of governance is far different from Bush’s.

President Obama showed the world a glimpse of his foreign policy inclination when, during his inaugural speech, he referred to relationships with other nations “even the smallest village where my father was born” as to be based henceforth on mutual trust and shared interest.

The Smith situation now following the Supreme Court ruling on his RP custody should give Obama the opportunity to walk his talk.

****

The ball is now in the US’ court, and all we can do is wait and pray that Obama make good on his moral crusade of “change we can believe in.”

When Bush was in power, he disregarded the UN’s Security Council resolution not to wage war on Iraq; Bush flexed his muscles and went on as if the Council had not spoken.

We expect nothing less but the exact opposite from President Obama: that he respect the Philippine Supreme Court’s decision, and make sure the soonest time possible that the judicial order be met in spirit and intent with the US’ informed consent.

Until such time comes, only then can we say that we have asserted our sovereignty!

****

LOCAL FRONT: Philhealth is currently moving everything to make sure its mandate of enrolling as many members as possible can be realized. During its 14th anniversary this year, the Maasin field office launched “Oplan Universal Coverage”, which aims to provide Philhealth ID cards for healthcare and medical benefits to 85% of the country’s total population by February, 2010, in time for its 15th anniversary. Philhealth branch head Misael Paigan was positive this can be done. And at the rate the local government units in the city, the municipalities, and the provincial government are enrolling indigent people to have the “green” Philhealth cards, there is reason to believe the target can be delivered on time. The active support of the private sector is also a key factor for the goal to be achieved.

ODDLY YOURS: In 1969, David Milgaard, a Canadian, was a 15-year old teen-ager typical of the 60’s era, described as a time of free love and exotic drugs. But he was deliberately linked by his close friends to a grisly rape-murder crime that he did not commit. In 1997, after twenty-eight long years, the Supreme Court of Canada finally ruled on David’s innocence and released him out of prison. This made David Canada’s longest serving prisoner – and an innocent man at that. Throughout the 28 lonely years that David was behind bars, sometimes in solitary confinement, his mother Joyce never faltered on the fight to keep his son a free man someday. Her cause was supported by the entire family (a husband and 3 other children). Eventually, her endurance caught the attention of the media, an NGO devoted to correct injustice, and the general public, and all of them came to understand the situation very well, including the family of the supposed victim. In May, 1999, David Milgaard was awarded $ 6.7 Million in compensation. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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