The Firm and the First Dude, Part II

The Firm flourished under the Ramos administration, thanks to the political and business savvy of founding partner Antonio Carpio. During the short reign of deposed President Estrada, Carpio kept a low profile as a private practitioner and respected opposition figure. Soon after President Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001, Carpio was appointed to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the Firm forged a strong relationship with the First Gentleman and long-time landlord, Atty. Mike Arroyo. The First Dude, as head of the presidential family and steward of the Arroyo interests, recognized the undeniable legal abilities of the thier tenants. The partnership between the Firm and the First Dude was further cemented by social and personal ties, including the Firm partners standing as wedding sponsors to the children of the presidential couple. The senior partners also served the Arroyo government in various capacities, notably Simeon Marcelo as Ombudsman and Avelino Cruz as Presidential Legal Counsel.

This happy state of affairs started to unravel amidst the controversy generated by the charter revision initiative of Malacanang. Justice Carpio virulently laid bare the infirmities of the proposed process of constitutional change and denounced it as grand deception foisted upon the people. This was followed by Secretary Cruz’ public pronouncements calling the whole scheme “harebrained” and exposing the deep rifts in the Arroya cabinet.

While Justice Carpio can plead judicial independence and the separation of state powers, it is unseemly of Secretary Cruz to have disgreed so forcefully and openly with his boss. Can you blame President Gloria for feeling betrayed ? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

What could account for these turn of events ? With an eye to posterity, Justice Carpio may have realized that there are larger concerns than that of looking out for the Firm. Perhaps the Firm, and its partners, perceive a shift in the political winds and are adjusting their sails accordingly. For whatever reason, noble or ignoble, the Firm has effectively dumped its most valuable client.

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