Pinocchio galore in the Senate investigations
IN PINOCCHIO, the Blue Fairy says, “Lies are easily recognized.”
In Senate investigations, a cavalcade of Pinocchio galore is bared routinely. On live TV, ranking military officials and government bureaucrats are caught either tragically pathetic or morbidly comical, or both.
Through the hidden tracks in the human body, eyes, face, nose, hands, shoulders, voice, gestures, mannerisms and general body language, you can spot dishonest answers. Researchers have found a number of non-verbal and cognitive signs associated with lies. Did you observe, for example, the witnesses who have been coached or rehearsed through their staccato invocation against self-incrimination? Don’t they know they have already incriminated themselves by their untruthfulness? Aren’t George Rabusa, and his assistant honestly incriminating themselves but telling the truth! Did you notice the tendency of the military officers and their civilian cohorts to stutter, including the pauses in their answers, their rigidity, their pained loss of recollection, their lack of spontaneity and their emotional facial expressions? What about their implausible answers, negative statements, indirect or roundabout answers, lack of detail and having to think long and hard before replying to questions?
These witnesses flaunt their contempt for truth. With shameless defiance they want evidence of their wrongdoing, instead of admitting guilt.
What is evidence? It is the means, sanctioned by the Rules of Court, of ascertaining the truth. In Senate committee hearings, technical rules of evidence (applicable to judicial proceedings) which do not affect substantive rights need not be observed. What is the truth, for example, about the “plea bargaining,” or the reported military corruption? The rules of evidence say that moral certainty only is required, or such degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. Do the testimonies of Jun Lozada, Rabusa or Heidi Mendoza measure up to that degree of proof requirement?
A fact may be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence, or that amount of evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion. Who demonstrates a superior weight of evidence considering all the facts and circumstances on the subject matter of plea bargaining or military corruption? Whose manner of testifying is most convincing? Whose probability or improbability of testimony do you give probative value? Or, are you persuaded by the interest or want of interest and personal credibility of the witnesses? Isn’t a declaration against self-interest one of the best earmarks of honesty? In a word, if you have an unprejudiced mind and you are a reasonable person, who do you believe are truthful as resource persons or witnesses in the congressional fact-finding?
—LUTGARDO B. BARBO,
former Senate secretary,