Getting the truth and convicting the perpetrators
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-08-07
In the light of all the recent revelations about alleged high crimes electoral fraud, overpriced contracts, misuse of public funds that were committed during the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime, Filipinos must realize that closure to all these must be seen as two separate national objectives.

Our first objective is to ferret out the truth. Not knowing our historical truth had resulted in Filipinos continuing to fall prey to the same criminals and abusers of power who resort to the same methods in victimizing us. Not knowing our historical truth, we have been electing some of the people who have been sucking the lifeblood of Filipinos like vampires. Not knowing the historical truth, we even elect their children, who, more often than not, turn out to be as crooked as their parents.

Whether we succeed in convicting those who allegedly masterminded the plunder and rape of democracy during the previous GMA regime should be of secondary importance to us. The reality is that the rich crooks — able to hire the biggest liars, err, lawyers — can stall court proceedings until they die from natural causes or find those technicalities that get many of the guilty acquitted.

Without even factoring the element of corrupt judges and justices, our legal system is heavily tilted in favor of the moneyed guilty. Smart lawyers can get a case to drag until the Second Coming of Christ. That is not to say that corrupt judges and justices do not play a decisive factor in determining case winners, losers or getting guilty crooks off the hook. They can do that and there are more than enough suspicious decisions to suggest that these transactions happen.

We must wonder if these lawyers who lend their talents to get the guilty off the hook still have a conscience. A doctor may be excused for saving the life of an evil man because we cannot expect doctors to know the facts about a person’s evil deeds. That is not the case with lawyers. If there is anyone who knows if a defendant to a plunder or an electoral fraud case is really guilty or innocent that would be the lawyer of the accused. It is a lame excuse to continue defending a guilty crook by saying that “everyone is entitled to equal protection of the law.”

No doubt that the ascendancy of President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) had created a new climate and encouraged these recent whistleblowers to emerge from fear and darkness and divulge what they know or participated in. Any Filipino with a fair amount of patriotism would want to be party to the effort of setting things right in our country. PNoy succeeded in restoring public confidence in a new administration that is dedicated to doing the right and moral thing. Thus, we see this encouraging sign of participants in the commission of high crimes now coming out to enlighten our benighted nation.

It is also not surprising to hear the alleged perpetrators of the plunder and electoral fraud vowing to address all the charges in court, the “proper forum” they like to call it. This is a public issue of great national importance. Why can they not face the public and engage in the discussions of these issues? If they’re innocent, surely they have nothing to fear.

We must set our focus on knowing the historical truth regardless whether we can make GMA or her husband Mike Arroyo, who has been exposed by some whistleblowers as the chief operator during the 2004 and 2007 elections and named as the mastermind behind the PNP (Philippine National Police) helicopter scam, account for their alleged roles in a court of law. We must understand that knowing the whole historical truth is the bigger national objective. The convictions can be considered as bonus.

No court of law had convicted Adolf Hitler for his crimes against humanity but the truth about the mass murders of Jews and other ethnic minorities during the Nazi era served mankind to prevent its repeat. We may not be able to convict those military generals that faced the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigating corruption in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines). But the knowledge we got from those Senate hearings now helps us to prevent future plunder in the military. We also got insights for the crafting of new laws that will better protect the public fund.

What are important to ferret out in seeking to arrive at the historical truth are the following:

1. That we know the role that people in the highest positions of power played in the plunder and rape of our democracy.

2. That we know exactly just how these crooks shafted us in such a grand manner.

3. That we learn to appreciate the dynamics of our political system that allow such atrocities to be committed hopefully remedy this with the proper legislation.

4. That all perpetrators and contributors are unmasked. 

The priciest lawyers that plundered money can buy are capable of getting the evil masterminds all the postponements, trial delays, and even get them acquitted. However, sending these criminals to jail is not as important as us knowing exactly what they did to us. Knowing exactly what they did to us will allow us to create new laws and impose new operating measures that will protect us from future abuse.

In the US, they were not able to convict all the Mafia Dons. But insights to Mafia operations that were provided by whistleblowers like Joseph Vallachi and Sammy Gravano provided the US Justice Department with enough knowledge on how to combat organized crime. The RICO Act was passed which had led to the apprehensions and preventions of big racketeering operations.

From Wikipedia we learned that: “The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows for the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them, closing a perceived loophole that allowed someone who told a man to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually do it.”

Hopefully, we too can pass a similar piece of legislation like the RICO Act of the US that can plug all the loopholes in our justice system.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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