Who cares if hearings are trials by publicity?
One brilliant jurist knew the Rules of Court like the back of his hand. He was a much-sought-after practitioner whose services had been engaged to defend high-profile public officials like former chief justice Renato Corona. We saw him in action during the Corona impeachment trial. He made mincemeat of the prosecution’s case. Pundits agreed that had Corona stuck to the jurist’s game plan (i.e., to bite his tongue and not to testify before the senator-judges), his acquittal on grounds of reasonable doubt would have been a foregone conclusion. For, indeed, the jurist, with sheer mastery of the trial rules, had succeeded in having heaps of evidence against his client suppressed or excluded. But the chief justice believed so much in his own brilliance. Alas, his own testimonial theatrics removed many a lingering doubt about his guilt.
The jurist’s legacy has endured. His style of lawyering is now a model to many aspiring litigators. Following in his footsteps, they have made a career out of such skills to thwart the truth from being told in court proceedings, in defense of scumbags with very deep pockets! Big-time crooks accused of plunder are one in crying foul against Senate investigations where the strict “rules of evidence” are frequently disregarded on the pretext of being “in aid of legislation.” Under our legal system, they are technically correct in demanding that probes of this gravity should be done at the “proper forum,” i.e., a court of law. More often than not, Senate hearings are really nothing more than “trials by publicity.”
But then again, who cares if they are? Given how rotten our judicial system is, where skillful lawyers can block every piece of evidence being presented against crooks every step of the way, and where matters are resolved only after decades of “due process,” what justice can the people truly expect?
In the course of a long, drawn-out litigation, chances are the witnesses and documents will suddenly disappear; and worse, the crooks might have already spent all the loot on lawyers’ humongous fees! In cases involving corruption of great magnitude, nothing lies at the end of this long and dark tunnel we call “judicial process” but the proverbial empty bag! Thus, shaming them here and now at Senate hearings is the only punishment people can ever hope for. That’s the grotesque reality of life in this benighted country.
—GABRIELLE MICHELLE M. AGUILLERA,
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