Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino

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I do not know if this has happened at any time before: the committee chairmanship is declared vacant to prevent a witness from testifying

I have repeatedly professed my support for President Digong’s drive against criminality, particularly his unrelenting pursuit of peddlers and pushers. While I do not like it that the bodycount rises each day, I still think he can carry on with the hunt and still keep within the confines of the law, for life – all life – does matter!

But what happened at the Senate on Monday, September 19, is just brazen, and there is no excuse for it. I am not blaming Digong for it. But I think his supporters have just done him tremendous disservice. It looks now like his crew is determined to silence Matobato and all others with stories like his to tell. Why not allow Matobato to testify, just as Ernesto Mercado was given almost a year to destroy the Binays and to ruin their reputation, and then subject him to as withering a cross-examination as possible?

Now, it will look to many like there are acres of killing fields to conceal because the controlling bloc in the Senate has gone the length of changing committee chairmanship just to prevent Edgar Matobato from further testifying.  

It would serve the President well to call his hounds back to their kennels and to restrain them. If Matobato is lying, he will implode while testifying. The more intricate a lie is, the more difficult it is to be consistent. And he has told quite a long story with many details. In the philosophy of science, a more informative theory is the preferred theory not necessarily because it is the right one but because it makes more predictions that allow for more rigid testing.

Matobato has said so much that can be checked, should be checked – and if he has perjured himself he will have sown the seeds of the destruction of his own credibility. But he should be heard, and the nation has the right to hear, just as Cayetano and Trillanes have the right to grill the witness while sparring with each other!

Why silence him?

DUTERTE ALLIES. Senate President Koko Pimentel and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano are the President's strongest allies in the upper chamber.

I do not know if this has happened at any time before: the committee chairmanship is declared vacant to prevent a witness from testifying. Dick Gordon is an achiever, but he is not reckless. Will he be eager to continue with the hearings that de Lima started and to summon Matobato and other witnesses lined up? Well, he assumed the chairmanship hot on the heels of one who had been booted out because of the proceedings. Why would he be eager for the chair to be unceremoniously withdrawn from beneath him?

But for the sake of the nation, for the sake of President Digong, for the sake Matobato, I hope we have not heard the last of him. And he should be cared for to: he has admitted to crimes – no less than fifty murders, by his own reckoning, and he has named highly placed people, either truthfully or falsely.  

Does anyone bother? Sandra Cam says that she is not willing to consider him a whistleblower.  Last I checked, no one appointed Sandra Cam to the position of “censor of witnesses.”  Much besides, she has long had a chip against de Lima.  They should just slug it out in some mud fight without involving the nation!

I should reiterate my point: Let Matobato continue testifying. Let all the EJK witnesses continue to take the stand. If any is lying, it will not be long before the lie is brought to light for what it is. But if any has spoken the truth, then we shall have done ourselves a tremendous disservice – and an unspeakable injustice – by silencing him. –


The author is Dean, Graduate School of Law, San Beda College and professor at the Cagayan State University

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