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Opinion of 1,200 weightier than that of one man

/ 08:32 PM April 13, 2012

It was blasphemous and ridiculous of Mr. Rigoberto Tiglao to liken former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Chief Justice Renato Corona to Jesus Christ in his column titled “The people cried, crucify him!” (Inquirer, 3/5/12). In the first place, Christ was a poor man whose only possessions were his coarse tunic and his dusty sandals. He was never accused of amassing illegal wealth. Nor did he hold high public office. In John 18:36, he declares: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Both GMA and Corona are very much of this world, one a former ruler like Herod Antipas, and the other a high magistrate, like Pontius Pilate.

Tiglao assailed as a “mob” the people who in two opinion surveys overwhelmingly condemned Corona as “guilty” of the impeachment charges against him. He compared them to the “mob” led by the Pharisees and Sadducees who cried “Crucify Him!” when Jesus was brought before them after his “trial” by Pontius Pilate. In his tortuous efforts to defend Corona, and also GMA, whom he had served as chief of staff, Tiglao repeats a line from a famous playwright, stating that “the majority is never right.”

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The statement was attributed by playwright Henrik Ibsen to Dr. Peter Stockman, the principal character of his play, “An Enemy of the People.” The doctor was reviled by the residents of his community for revealing the “inconvenient truth” that the local baths, which attracted tourism income, was polluted by the town’s tannery. In a famous diatribe often quoted by aristocrats and authoritarian rulers, Dr. Stockman is moved to declare, “A minority may be right; a majority is always wrong.”

While Stockman, a physician, was right about the baths, he was only half-right in his general comment on democracy. Indeed, “a minority may be right.” That is why in a modern democracy, such as that hoped to be attained by our Constitution, the right of the minority to speak and to be represented in people’s congresses is recognized. But it certainly is not true that “the majority is always wrong.”

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It is also the rule in all democracies that “the will of the majority” is to be followed. Historically, society started being ruled by patriarchs, then by tribal chiefs, priests, a hereditary nobility, kings, oligarchs and strongmen, commonly known as dictators. But it turned out they were more frequently wrong than right.  And the people or the masses invariably suffered under their rule.

And so revolutions occurred. In modern times, these were the American Revolution that overthrew the British King; then the French Revolution that ousted the French monarchy and the feudal system; the Russian Revolution against the Tsar; and of course the Maoist Revolution in China that led to that country’s resurrection from a century of mass poverty and foreign-imposed humiliation. There was also the Edsa revolution that ousted the dictator Marcos. The judgment of history is that these revolutions by the masses were right.

As Sir Winston Churchill famously quipped, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried…”

As for the surveys that Mr. Tiglao strained to debunk, let it be said that the opinion of 1,200 respondents who scientifically represent a cross-section of the population is weightier than the opinion of one man, members of his family, cronies or servitors, insofar as approximating the popular or democratic will is concerned.

Opinion surveys by reputable pollsters have generally turned out to be correct and validated by election results. The only notoriously wrong election poll was taken by an American survey firm in 1949 which wrongly predicted that President Truman had lost reelection, and that was more than 60 years ago.

—MANUEL F. ALMARIO,

spokesman, Movement for Truth in History,

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[email protected] Let the spirit of the law prevail in Corona’s trial

SENATOR-JUDGE Panfilo Lacson is right in saying that the Senate should admit as evidence all the revelations of witnesses and the documents on impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona’s unexplained wealth.

Why should the senator-judges give any weight at all to the position of the defense panel that all evidence gathered from allegedly questionable sources should be deleted from the records? In the first place, it has not been proven that Corona’s bank records are “fruits of the poisoned tree” and therefore inadmissible. How could the statements and documents presented by bank officers and registers of deeds be deemed inadmissible?

And even granting for the sake of argument that some documents, such as Corona’s bank signatures, are of doubtful provenance, does that negate the fact that Corona kept astonishingly fat bank deposits that he could not have earned from his lawful income of just over P600,000 per year? No sir.

It is very clear from the disclosures in the trial that Corona amassed unexplained wealth in the form of multimillion-peso real estate properties and bank accounts. The law mandates that unexplained wealth should be forfeited in favor of the state because it is presumed to be ill-gotten.

The defense should refrain from using the law to thwart justice. Filipinos should reject any such attempt to subvert the rule of law through legal technicalities. The spirit of the law should prevail at all times. There’s simply too much evidence against Corona to let him fly the coop.

—EDGARDO CAYMO,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Jesus Christ, Letters to the Editor, opinion, Renato corona, Rigoberto Tiglao
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