Technicality, ‘usual refuge of scoundrels’
What many letter-writers have been saying in the Opinion page of the Inquirer is coming to light little by little. The July 21 issue of the Inquirer reported “Mercado can’t testify vs Elenita, court rules” (News, 7/21/15); Elenita is the wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay, herself indicted also for venalities committed during her term as mayor of Makati City. Blocked by the Binay lawyers on, yes, “technical grounds”—that the document he was going to testify on was not “included in the marking of evidence,” and that Ernesto Mercado himself was not on the “list of witnesses”—and some other esoteric mumbo-jumbo, the whistle-blower was barred by the Sandiganbayan from taking the witness stand.
That is exactly what the Binay lawyers have been angling for. Feeling so helpless at the Senate forum where practically all kinds of evidence are allowed without any hassle, they are biding their time for the day when the charges are filed in the “proper forum” (the Sandiganbayan) where they can run circles around any witness against them. While they may be within their legal right to object to a no-holds-barred presentation of evidence, it is really pointless to argue technicalities in a “court of public opinion.” And despite its sometimes rambunctious atmosphere, enough truth has somehow filtered through and given the people the big picture.
None of the claptrap that most lawyers are so fond of kept the senators from getting to the bottom of the matters under investigation. The general idea is to allow any witness to bring it on and the winnowing of the chaff from the grain can be done later. The people trust the senators to have the wisdom to tell what is substantial evidence and what is merely “haka-haka lang” (to borrow the worn-out expression of the Binay camp).
So let the people see everything there is to see—after all, aren’t they the final judge come May 2016 as to whether or not the Binay patriarch is fit to run this country? That is basically a political exercise, not judicial.
It thus behooves the Binay defenders to do their own no-holds-barred presentation of evidence before the Senate to debunk the charges lodged there. Why continue hiding behind the rules of technicality, the usual refuge of scoundrels? Well, it may be apt to retell a popular joke: “When the truth is on your side, hammer on the evidence; otherwise, hammer on the table!”
—ARNULFO M. EDRALIN, [email protected]