Issue of September 10, 2017
     
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OPINION
 

69th Courier Anniversary Issue
 
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To go or not to go

Perhaps, most Filipinos are now well aware of what transpired between Senators Richard Gordon and Antonio Trillanes IV during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation on the P6.5 billion worth of drugs that slipped through the very noses of Customs officials. For those who are not, these two legislators practically tore against each other’s throats, making a scene that is unworthy of their stature as leaders. Who started it? It really depends on whose side you are on.

Trillanes has a knack of getting the “goat” out of his colleagues. The manner by which he articulates himself is short of being arrogant. He is impulsive, abrasive, and tactless. He says what he wants to say, unmindful of the manner by which he says it. In the process, he becomes confrontational to the point of being unreasonable. He has had brushes with Senators Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Zubiri with whom he almost traded blows, Allan Peter Cayetano whose microphone he intentionally turned off, Vicente Sotto III whom he branded as lawyering for witnesses, and most recently, Gordon whose committee he branded as “komite de abswelto.”

In retaliation, Sen. Gordon dug up Trillanes’ history of staging coup de etat after coup de etat to advance his political career, how he conducts himself in a very unparliamentary manner during Senate investigations and how he can easily scare away resource persons due to his intimidating way of eliciting facts. Gordon therefore threatened him with a long overdue ethics complaint.

Well, Trillanes is not really that kind of a person who can easily endear himself to the masses. Hence, it is a surprise that he remains a senator. If, however, he continues along the track that he is following, he might have just written ‘finis’ to his political career.

Whether or not you hate or you like Trillanes, it is undeniable that he got guts. To be rabid against an ill-tempered President takes guts, to debate with Gordon on technical matters involving the committee he heads takes guts, to invite Presidential son Paolo Duterte and Atty. Mans Carpio to shed light on their alleged participation in smuggling operations at the Bureau of Customs takes guts. At least, on these matters, I think Trillanes has a point.

Though the mention by Mr. Taguba of the names of the Presidential son and son-in-law, respectively, was merely in passing, they play a crucial role in unraveling the truth. At a time when influence peddling is at its highest point and the President’s men are in the eye of the controversy, their attendance in the Senate inquiry will help dispel the rumors that those close to Duterte are the very ones tainting his fight against graft and corruption. They can clean up not only their names but more importantly, that of the President.

True, the involvement of the young Duterte and Atty. Carpio in this scandal is based on purely hearsay which, according to legal luminaries is admissible in evidence. This concept, however, does not apply to this particular situation. The proceeding upon which Paolo Duterte and Carpio are being clamored to attend is not a judicial issue. Both do not stand as an accused. They are not being indicted for any crime.

On the contrary, it is a Senate inquiry where they are being asked to attend as resource persons. If ever they go, they will be there “in aid of legislation” and for nothing more. The binding effect of the rules on evidence does not apply to legislative inquiries because the Senate has its own rules of procedure. Its rules say that it may invite any person of interest as a resource speaker, if necessary “in aid of legislation.”

There is a saying in the Bible that “the wicked fleeth even if no man pursueth but the brave is as strong as the lion.” Surely, there is nothing to fear if there is nothing to hide. If every coincidental situation depicted by Trillanes in his privilege speeches can be explained to the hilt by Paolo and Mans, let them make it before the bar of public opinion. After all, being directly related to the President, they owe the public not only an appearance of propriety but the lack of an appearance of impropriety. In a country where even the most absurd chismis is taken as a fact, only their word will disprove all of it.

If Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Carpio absent themselves from the inquiry, it will lend credence to the allegations made by Trillanes against them. It will dignify what the Senator is trying to placate against the Dutertes. We do not want this to happen because, as between the Dutertes on one hand and Trillanes on the other, the first appear to be more credible than the second. The Dutertes should not give Trillanes the chance to have the last laugh by shunning their attendance before the Blue Ribbon Committee.

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