My attention was called by one of my editors that there is a growing public perception that The Manila Times supports Vice President Jejomar C. Binay. And she was understandably alarmed.
She deserves an explanation and perhaps some of our readers who too might share the same view as that of my editor.
I am proud to say that The Manila Times is the only broadsheet that is neither owned nor influenced by any of the big businesses. The paper doesn’t owe anything to any taipan or any past or present politician. It is, in my favorite expression, “Against all flags.”
As a consequence of our critical articles, some of the big businesses literally boycott The Manila Times. They exclude it from their advertising plans. For now, their identities will remain locked. Why they do so is perhaps a topic for another series.
Ok I submit that some of our columnists may be supportive of VP Binay. But I hope our readers will understand that their actions and opinions are exclusively their own and not necessarily shared by, much less assigned to them by The Manila Times.
The Manila Times subscribes to the proposition that freedom of speech is one of the pillars of democracy. The Times protects and upholds that abiding principle by allowing its opinion writers to comment freely on issues that affect government, business, society and even our daily lives.
The Times editors do not in any way tinker with submitted columns, except to weed out errors in English grammar and idiom and phrases that could lead to libel suits. In short, our columnists enjoy complete freedom. They could be very wrong but we practice what the late Senator Ninoy Aquino, father of the President, once said, paraphrasing Voltaire, “I do not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
What the Times doesn’t welcome are paid opinions and paid press releases or “jukebox journalism.” And for as long as my columnists write articles that flow from their conviction, I would allow their unimpeded publication.
On President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd. The Manila Times is neither pro nor anti Administration. It is just doing its job as a newspaper. I subscribe to the proposition that the media should play a critical role with government. It is not for media to praise public officials or the powers-that-be but to expose anomalies and shenanigans in government.
There will be no praise of the government and its officials by The Manila Times. It was during Martial Law when I first came across the word, “Developmental Journalism” which at that time meant publishing or airing, in the words of the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, only the “good and the beautiful.”
The Manila Times will continue to persevere to look for news behind the news. It will consistently challenge the statements of government officials in order to expose the half-truths and half-lies it peddles. It will continue to skillfully pry open the veil of secrecy behind each and every perceived anomaly in this administration and beyond no matter what. Because it is our job; our only job.
In exposing the malfeasances of government officials, we help build our nation. In writing about the corruption in and excesses of our leaders, we strengthen our institution. In calling attention to the violations of the law and of the things we hold dear, and in fighting for the poor and the oppressed, we enrich our values as a people.
Let’s talk of VP Binay vis-à-vis Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee investigation. Where does this paper stand? Is it for or against Binay? Neither.
The issue is not Binay or whether he is innocent or guilty as charged. What is at stake is the Rule of Law.
Let’s not forget that the mandate of the Senate is to carry out investigations in aid of legislation. Investigations are supposed to be conducted for the specific purpose of crafting new laws or amending existing ones. Determining the guilt or innocence of an individual is not contemplated in the legislative system; it is the exclusive province of the courts.
Senators as we all know are legislators and not prosecutors, judges or executioners. They are to conduct investigations into specific public concerns to identify inherent or perceived weaknesses in the system so that corrective measures can be proposed and enacted into laws.
Also important, is that those invited in the Senate hearings are resource persons; they are guests in the august chambers of the Senate; they are guests of the Senators. They should be accorded respect. They should not be bullied, threatened, disrespected or cajoled into admitting their alleged crimes.
Their presence in the hearings is for the purpose of providing Legislators relevant inputs that can be included in the drafting of the bills should the Legislators decide to do so. Never should they be categorized as suspects. Or worse, labeled as guilty even before they could appear before the Senate hearing or before the investigations can be terminated and a report could be prepared, circulated and duly signed by the members of the committee.
The facts are clear:
Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of violating the rules of the Senate which govern hearings “In aid of legislation” and how these should be conducted. For that matter, the Senate leadership is as guilty too for not putting its foot down against the abuses of the three Senators or remind them of the governing rules of Senate investigations.
Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of violating the Rule of Law by conducting an inquisition, rather than investigation.
Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of misappropriation. In conducting an inquisition rather than investigation, they have misappropriated people’s money for their personal advantage and in pursuit of their burning ambitions for higher office.
Senators Koko Pimentel, Allan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 3rd are guilty of violating the Binays’ and businessman Tiu’s human rights. For they arrogantly denied the Binays and Tiu the dignity due them as ordinary human beings and the respect due to resource persons. Worse, they have also arrogated to themselves the roles of prosecutors, judges and executioners and pronounced the Binays guilty as charged even before the hearings were concluded and before the corresponding report was written and duly signed by the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
For all I know the Binays are guilty as hell. But like the Senators, who were allegedly bribed by the Palace to convict the former Supreme Court Justice Rene Corona, the Binays too deserve the protection of the law. They should be accorded due process. They are innocent until proven otherwise. They should be charged in court, tried and only if and when they are found guilty, should they be judged accordingly; not before.
Oh yes, I weep at the sight of our Senators who wantonly display their contempt of our laws. They act as if they are the law. And that they alone should interpret what the law is and that the law is what they say it is. This is portentous.
Note how our Legislators at the House of Representatives trump the Supreme Court ruling by passing the P2.6 trillion 2015 budget with the PDAF and DAP given another nomenclature. “Bottom- Up Budgeting,” they call it. “Saan ba kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha ang mga ito?” to quote President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd.
When our own public officials tasked to protect and uphold the law are themselves violating the law, it is time to break our silence.
When our very own public officials are trampling upon the Rule of Law, it is time to call attention to it, register our vehement objection, raise our collective voices and say, “Tama na, Sobra na” (Enough is enough).
When our own public offices champion injustice, it is time to decapitate the head of the hydra-headed monster masquerading as Legislators.
Oh yes, this narrative is pro Rule of Law. And only those with a clear conscience and a clean heart can truly appreciate the meaning of justice for all; the Binays included, guilty or not.