As far as political gimmicks go, its not even original. The first dictator did it—several times. I’m referring to commuting sentences of convicts on a special occasion. Marcos did it on his birthday, on Imelda’s birthday, on the anniversary of the new society—just so that he could put a benevolent sheen to his dictatorship.
What did that wise man say about old dogs and new tricks.
The current dictator has taken a page from the old one, which somehow leads me to admire Imee Marcos’s riposte about the current dictator being a “second rate, trying hard copycat” for its candor, if not its media-impact (One would wish that neither Imee nor the current dictator would try so hard though.)
The Easter message of the dictator mentioned a new policy of commutation of all death sentences. Now, all the legal scholars—acknowledged, unacknowledged, self-proclaimed or otherwise—have spoken at length about the commutations being flawed constitutionally because: 1. they trench on the judicial power to review death sentences, 2. they are broad and sweeping and may impair the rights of the truly innocent on death row (yes, there are those) and 3. commutations cannot be given on a blanket basis because they would involve only those sentenced by final judgment to death and would have to be determined on individual merits on a case to case basis. So I won’t bother too much with these.
What I do mind is the dictator using lives to simply toady up to the Catholic church and get the church’s nod on charter change. If the dictator had suddenly come to an epiphany in the cool mountain air of Baguio, I am certain that the Holy Spirit would have told her—just have the death penalty law repealed. Now, that would underscore a serious commitment to the sanctity of life. Oh, and I’m sure in the next whisper, the Holy Spirit would have told her—forget about charter change and just resign.
Unfortunately, from media grabs of the lent retreat, she sat beside Totoy Wangwang (aka Raul Gonzalez) and, despite what she may claim, the Holy Spirit doesn’t sound like Raul Gonzalez—perhaps another spirit, certainly not the Holy one.
I blogged about this before—I’ll believe it when I see it. Certify the bill to repeal the death penalty (of course, there’s nothing to prevent her stooges from inserting another constitutional provision in their proposed constitution on this; but that’s another story altogether.) and stop resorting to cheap—and unoriginal—gimmicks.