In defense of Gordon
What transpired last Aug. 31 in the august halls of the Senate between so-called honorable Senators Richard Gordon and Antonio Trillanes IV was truly unfortunate. To say the least, it has inevitably created two disgruntled factions among the people who eagerly watched the whole incident on television. There are of course always two sides to a coin!
One recalls that the word war between the two senators began when Trillanes moved that presidential son Paolo Duterte and son-in-law Mans Carpio be summoned to the Senate blue ribbon committee investigating the 604-kg shabu shipment from China, a motion that committee chair Gordon vehemently rejected. Saying that Gordon had anyway previously allowed a few other witnesses upon his motion without much ado, e.g., Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr., Trillanes wondered — with an ostensible air of sarcasm — why Gordon refuses to summon Paolo and Mans, and had suddenly turned nervous and panicky when presidential relatives were involved. Ultimately, Trillanes ended his expression of annoyance by calling Gordon’s committee as “committee de absuelto.”
Whoever was at that time in Gordon’s shoes could not really let such behavior of Trillanes simply pass unsanctioned. He cited Trillanes in contempt and threatened to file a case with the Senate ethics committee. Whether or not he would pursue that threat remains to be seen.
With due respect to all other contrary opinions, let me ventilate mine at this juncture. I believe Gordon was right and Trillanes was wrong!
We can all agree that even before that fateful incident, Trillanes had already publicly and directly accused — repeat, accused — and practically maligned both Paolo and Mans as behind the Davao Group which, he said, had something to do with the much ballyhooed “tara” system in the Bureau of Customs.
Methinks the whole nation has been witness to this continuing condemnation of Paolo and Mans by Trillanes before the media, after he also openly accused President Duterte of having billions in the bank sans proof.
Thus, with clear intent, Trillanes demanded Paolo and Mans to be summoned not as witnesses or resource persons like all the others invited to the Senate probe, but as accused. More bluntly put, Trillanes wanted to use the blue ribbon committee not for fact-finding nor in aid of legislation, which is essentially its true purpose, but as a convenient means to prosecute the presidential next-of-kin.
But Gordon was not as dumb as Trillanes thought he was. To be fair, Gordon said he would approve Trillanes’ motion, why not? But Trillanes must present a witness or an evidence to support his accusation of Paolo and Mans as behind the Davao Group, which Abellera had already testified to be nonexistent.
Indeed, not only in a court of law but in all other forums — even in the sheer case of a son accusing his brother of wrongdoing before their own parents — a witness or an evidence (lawyers call it probable cause) is always mandatory for the accusation to be entertained in the first place. That Trillanes — a long-time lawmaker even if he is not a lawyer — does not know, or conveniently pretends not to know, this basic rule of law is not only ironic; it is downright unforgivable!
RUDY L. CORONEL, rudycoronel [email protected]
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