Rousing the advocates in us | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Rousing the advocates in us

How can the general public, who are neither lawyers nor lawmakers, absorb information coming out from the Senate probe on the P6-billion shabu shipment from China?

It began when Mark Taguba testified under oath that Paolo “Pulong” Duterte was name-dropped at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to facilitate the release of shipments.


Photos then floated in social media of Pulong with alleged drug and smuggling personalities, among them Kenneth Dong, who is currently implicated in the shabu smuggling case.

As hearings progressed, the names “Davao Group” and “Charlie Tan” emerged. Recall that Tan’s name had cropped up long before in the testimony of Arturo Lascañas, who alleged that Tan was a drug smuggler protected by Pulong.


As numerous photos of Pulong and Tan together surfaced, Sen. Panfilo Lacson made an exposé on BOC shenanigans, and associated Tan with the Davao Group.

Subsequently, former BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon cut on Lacson’s seething exposé by countering that the senator’s son Pampi is a smuggler of imported cement. Photos then appeared of Pampi in the company of Pulong. By this time, the name of Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera surfaced and also appeared in the photos.

Also by this time, the name Mans Carpio, husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, surfaced as having been often seen in Faeldon’s office.

Not knowing how to weigh in and appreciate evidence as only lawyers could, the general public is certainly left with a galore of accusations and counteraccusations, not to mention trolls moonlighting as character assassins
giving their share of public opinion.

Here is where the ordinary citizen weighs in using the principle of the common good vis-à-vis leaders in authority. Selective justice has always been very peculiar to the Philippines, with sitting public servants’ tendency to protect their own political families. The Ampatuan massacre is the worst paradigm of this form of social cancer.

At the other end of the spectrum is the only instance in Philippine history when this elitism was broken. After World War II, Sergio “Serging” Osmeña Jr. was accused as a Japanese war collaborator. His father, then President Sergio Sr., lifted no finger to protect his son who was eventually prosecuted before the People’s Court.

President Duterte’s 16 million voters expected him to be the ultimate maverick, that one-of-a-kind politician who will call a spade a spade, including the trickeries of his own family. At last, here is a president who can identify with their frustrations, their savior of the gutters.


But in this issue, Mr. Duterte behaved otherwise: Before any one of us could gasp for breath, he very swiftly instead pronounced his own family’s exoneration before any courts of law could do so. It is a big letdown for his supporters.

The disempowerment of the Filipino people has long been in the making. Political science has long established that tough talk doesn’t make for strong governments; a weak state is in fact made up of politicians who wheel and deal their way to power. Mr. Duterte is now being remembered for the wrong reasons: he blames everyone else but himself and his family, not exactly unlike his predecessor’s blame games.

Reinforcing Mr. Duterte’s faux pas is the image of Richard Gordon, now emerging as the season’s most successful promoter of hatred for this administration. Once associated with the P2.4 billion taxes lost annually through car smuggling under his administration at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Gordon’s imperious and pompous ways are hardly the stuff of credibility for the chairmanship, nay monopoly, of the Senate blue ribbon committee.

Sen. Tito Sotto’s admonition of Sen. Antonio Trillanes heard over the loudspeakers: “This is Gordon’s committee, just let him be. You create your own committee” simply tells us that public interest is dead in this Senate.

These developments augur well for the general public to shape themselves as advocates, not partisans. There is an ocean of difference between the two.

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TAGS: Antonio J. Montalvan II, Antonio Trillanes IV, Arturo Lascañas, Customs shabu shipment, Customs smuggling, Davao Group, Kenneth Dong, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Manases Carpio, Nicanor Faeldon, Nilo Abellera, panfilo lacson, Paolo Duterte, Richard Gordon, Rodrigo Duterte, Vicente Sotto III
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