Before the former president’s arrest and speedy detention, largely on De Lima’s orders, PNoy had practically made it an election vow to send his predecessor to the slammer. When this happens, one is convinced that it is not justice that is served, but the victor basking in his victory! It was the same thing with Corona, for before he faced the ordeal of trial at the Senate, he was dressed down in public by the President of the Philippines, after having been snubbed at the inauguration rites. And so, when, from a litany of supposed crimes, the House Managers had to admit that they had evidence for only a paltry items that remained after the scathing and vitriolic assaults of the incomparable Miriam Defensor Santiago on the prosecution’s case – including her chastisement of Vitaliano Aguirre II that sent him scurrying away from the Senate floor – and still got a indubitable majority of votes for conviction, it was very hard to doubt the common conviction that PNoy was getting his way, through his minions at the Senate.
De Lima – not without reason – was the object of many of Digong’s choicest epithets in his very colorful oratorical repertoire, and the cheering squad in the Lower House looks days to live out their fantasies of being prosecutor in some thrilling courtroom battle by cross-examining “guests” and “resource persons” whom they grilled over impertinences – like the fruit that Dayan and De Lima supposedly shared in one out-of-town trip. Is it comeuppance, then, that has now befallen De Lima, or is rather the visitation of arrogance upon one who, as Commission on Human Rights chairman, had to do what she had sworn she would do, and risk the wrath of a mayor who had – and still has – virtually nonexistent tolerance for opposition?
And, no, I will not join in the demand that she be thrown in with “common criminals” in the dank, dehumanizing pit that our prisons in fact are, because we do not yet know whether she is a criminal or not. In fact, I maintain the proposition – on the basis of the Constitution’s own text – that the only legitimate reason for denying a person bail as a matter of right is when such a person is charged with an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, AND when evidence is guilt is strong. At this stage, we do not know that – not the judge, at least, whose task it is to make that determination. And so absent a finding that the evidence of guilt is strong, how does one constitutionally defend the denial of the right of one accused to temporary liberty under bail?
Archbishop Soc was once more his prophetic self. Siding with none, neither prematurely acquitting, nor pre-empting the courts, he prayed as every priest prays – and invited Catholic Philippines to do the same: “Lord, heal our land”. And the despicable chorus of trolls derided him for even praying. We are close to being, as a nation, completely bankrupt in spirit. – Rappler.com
Fr Ranhilio Callangan Aquino is Vice-President for Administration and Finance, Cagayan State University; and Dean, Graduate School of Law, San Beda College